After 15 years off the road, BMW Films is bringing back its series of short films with Clive Owen reprising his role as “The Driver.”
The new short, titled The Escape, is being directed by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) and co-stars Dakota Fanning, Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga. Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin (Spotlight), who produced the original BMW series The Hire, is producing the short alongside Eric Stern.
Presented as an homage to the original series — which featured Owen and such A-list directors as Alejandro G. Inarritu, Ang Lee and the late John Frankenheimer — The Escape will premiere Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. ET on BMWFilms.com.
Blomkamp got a call from his agent at WME saying that BMW was looking for a director to relaunch the series with Owen.
“I was like, ‘Man, count me in,’ ” Blomkamp told The Hollywood Reporter. “When I was in film school, these films were really groundbreaking. They seemed like the perfect halfway point between commercials and features. I actually emailed the production company as a 20-year-old and was like, ‘I’d really like to make one of these.’ They wrote back, ‘Never contact us again.’ And here I am [laughs].”
The critically acclaimed original series included eight short films that were released over two seasons from 2001 to 2002. Each featured then-rising star Owen as the mysterious driver hired to complete various missions. Directors also included Joe Carnahan, Wong Kar-wai, Guy Ritchie, John Woo and the late Tony Scott. The series, which was released without the benefit of high-speed Internet or YouTube, received more than 100 million views online.
BMW not only brought back Owen for The Escape, but also creative director Bruce Bildsten, executive producer Brian DiLorenzo and David Carter, who in addition to serving as a creative consultant, co-wrote the film with Blomkamp. The trio then gathered a group of producers and designers to bring the film to life.
In addition to Owen, original talent included Gary Oldman, Forest Whitaker, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle and Madonna. Season One of The Hire was executive produced by David Fincher, while Season Two was executive produced by Tony and Ridley Scott.
Blomkamp shot the The Escape this past summer and just wrapped visual effects this week. He used drones and disposable cameras to film the signature car maneuverings. Though he wouldn’t disclose the budget on the 11-minute film, he said it was substantial.
“On a cost-per-minute basis, it was pretty close to major feature-film territory,” Blomkamp added.