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Romania filming for Mercedes-Benz ad shoot

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes-Benz filmed rural Romania as 1880s Germany for a commercial campaign drawing inspiration from the first long-distance automobile journey.

The campaign was created by Mercedes-Benz's creative agency Antoni and was produced by Anorak Films as Bertha Benz: The Journey That Changed Everything.

The four-minute short dramatises an arduous 65-mile journey made in 1888 by Bertha Benz, Carl Benz’s business partner and wife, using her husband’s automobile technology.  

The story follows Benz as her automobile breaks down in a remote village, and the suspicion with which she is regarded by the local people.

Anorak chose the village of Casolt near the Transylvanian city of Sibiu in central Romania as their main filming location, with servicing from Icon Films of Bucharest.

“Romania was always going to be more cost-effective than Germany,” says producer Christoph Petzenhauser of Anorak, in comments to KFTV. “Romania was also ideal for recreating a period Germany as the country has a long history of German heritage and architectural styles.”

German locations would also probably have looked too modern for the specific visual style sought by director Sebastian Strasser, who wanted a ‘Wild West’ sensibility to the campaign as a way of raising the dramatic stakes. 

“We initially planned to shoot in several different Romanian villages and film them as the single story setting, but the travel involved would not have worked for our schedule."

Mercedes-Benz

“A major advantage of working in Casolt was that it was only a 20-minute drive from Sibiu," says Petzenhauser. "It would have been very difficult to shoot anywhere more remote than that as the regional production infrastructure is limited.”

Ten days of prep in Casolt led to a four-day shoot, with modern background elements - such as cables and pylons - painted out in post-production.

The spot’s key creatives were international but below-the-line crew were hired from Bucharest. Many of the extras who appear in the film were hired from local villages and had never acted before.

Romania launched a base 35% cash rebate as a filming incentive in mid-2018 for features and TV series, and has also had a profile boost from the success of Corin Hardy’s horror hit The Nun, which filmed in several of the country’s historic buildings.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Romania.

Images: Anorak Films