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HomeCraftsCameraA Common Thread’s Maz Makhani Orchestrates a Tango in the Desert

A Common Thread’s Maz Makhani Orchestrates a Tango in the Desert

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Audi's ad from director Maz Makhani
Audi’s ad from director Maz Makhani
The grace, speed and agility of Audi A7 and A8 sedans are compared to a pair of sensual dancers in a new spec spot directed by Maz Makhani and produced by A Common Thread.

In the spot, two Audis, one black, one white, race across a flat expanse of the California desert; leaving billowy dust clouds as they cut through the sand. Out near the horizon, a man and a woman, also arrayed in black and white, engage in an erotic, tango-like pas de deux, mimicking the swift, bold arcs made by the cars. The editorial pace quickens as the cars weave an ever-tightening circle around the couple and its dance reaches its final flourish.

Makhani and A Common Thread created the spot to showcase their prowess in automotive advertising. The piece, in fact, seamlessly includes nearly every technique common in car ads — high speed photography, aerials, crane shots, pursuit cars — not to mention the dazzling choreography of the dancers.

“We want people to know that we are leaders in running footage and running footage ads — in capturing gorgeous automotive imagery that requires beautiful lighting, beautiful photography and perfect execution,” A Common Thread executive producer, J.P. McMahon explained.

An image from Audi's ad, "Tango," directed by Maz Malkhani
An image from Audi’s ad, “Tango,” directed by Maz Malkhani
Makhani shot the spot over two days in the El Mirage dry lake bed. He employed an ARRI Alexa camera for principal photography, RED Epic and Scarlett cameras for specialty shots, and a Phantom camera for high (750 fps) speed. Aerials were captured using remote-control drones. The director also employed a 50-foot Technocrane, a Pursuit Systems camera car and sophisticated car mounts for POVs.

“Although this was a spec project, we made no compromises on the technical side,” said Makhani. Similarly, Makhani and A Common Thread assembled a first class crew that included choreographer Michael Silas, who previously worked as a dancer and choreographer for Lady Gaga.

Makhani originally came up with the concept for the ad two years ago and had been waiting for the right opportunity to pull it off. “The concept was inspired by a music track that I originally heard on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica,” Makhani said. “I liked the idea of cars emulating dancers. Later it became a dance off and, ultimately, a battle between the two.”

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