Gymkhana in Detroit? Let’s be honest, this was bound to happen. With Ken’s almost decade long partnership with Ford, we knew the series would one day come to the Motor City.
Having only previously shot Ken during his rallycross stint a few years back, I was excited when I got the call to shoot a Gymkhana.
Now let’s take a look back to October of 2017. This would be the first of FIVE shoots, and would take over half a year to film them all.
Detroit was going to be a short segment in the overall project of Gymkhana TEN, so there were only two days scheduled for the shoot.
However, things went south, fast.
The city gave us a window from 6am to 3pm to film each day, and we wouldn’t be able utilize a single second of that as Mother Nature had other plans in the form of rain. The downpour was just too extreme.
So there went day one.
Unfortunately, I had to head back to Los Angeles as soon as we wrapped day two. As the official Photographer for Global Rallycross, I didn't have the option of missing the event.
Ron Zaras (Hoonigan social wiz) and Mike Blabac (#1 skateboard photographer) were on site to shoot stills so me being absent on the final day of shooting wasn't the end of the world.
Day 2 of (now) 3… and my final day.
The first scene would take place near Detroit’s famous Michigan Central Train Depot which Ford recently purchased.
Ford plans to rebuild it into a modern city center. It will have restaurants on the bottom floor and new offices up top.
Everything looked perfect as we started our day, but as soon as we got to the location, it started raining.
We spent a few hours just waiting on the rain. There were pockets of dry weather, but the roads were still damp and that doesn’t make for good burnouts.
Since this was the opening sequence of the Detroit section, it had to be absolutely perfect.
We filmed a couple intro pieces and continued to wait.
Finally, by noon, we got things going (it was still raining, just ever so slightly) and Ken launched the car for the first official shot of Gymkhana TEN.
With rain delays dwindling down our window to shoot, everyone headed over to the next location: the soon-to-be demolished (or not) CPA Building, with Downtown Detroit as the backdrop.
The shot would be the, now famous, Segway + 360 donut stunt that has become popular among the series.
Scotto would be on the Segway, he technically has the most experience of anyone on set. Since the Hoonicorn V2 is powered by methanol, he would have to wear a gas mask while cruisin’ the streets.
After the first take, Ken had a quick look at the footage and we moved on. It was nice to have a win after all of the questionable weather.
No big deal, just Kado holding $60k worth of cameras on each hand.
A quick bite to eat, then we headed across the street to the front of the Train Depot.
If you look at the satellite view on Google Maps, you’ll notice that the road forms a U-shape in front of the building. Perfect for a 1400 hp Mustang to do a high speed 4 wheel drift into the station.
Without any reference points, it was hard for Ken to gauge his proximity. A few takes in Ken got a little too close to the curb, completely messing up his rear driver side suspension.
After a quick fix, there was about an hour left before our cutoff time. We were miraculously able to complete everything we needed at the Train Depot.
I rushed back to the hotel and headed straight for the airport. Later I got word that the third day of shooting went well for everyone, and the rain came in right after the final scene was shot.