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I In a massive hangar-like building owned by the London based Warner Bros. film studio stands Rankin, black jeans and T-shirt, in front of a gigantic clockwork, checking every detail once more. How does the light play over the teeth of the gears? Does the sand trickling through the hourglass have the right granularity? Does the leading man’s suit fit correctly? Rankin tugs sharply on his jacket. Rankin is shooting the commercials for the launch of the new Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+. For one of the best photographers in the world, the spotlight is his natural habitat. Just as it is for his models. Madonna, Kate Moss, David Bowie or the Queen — the list of celebrities who have stood in front of his camera is long. And the list of celebrities who still want to be photographed by him — and only him — is even longer. But this setting here is also a first for Rankin, or more prosaically, John Rankin Waddell. “I’ve never shot on such a big set,” he admits, grinning. Located in the northwest of London, Warner Bros. Studios are the largest film studios in the UK. Here, on the site of a former Rolls-Royce factory, the Harry Potter films and Stars Wars: Episode I were created. Of course, you could simply portray the 612-hp Mercedes- AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+ as a pure powerhouse, but Rankin wouldn’t have that. His work — whether photography or film — is always distinguished by its depth, a glimpse into what lies behind. “The point is,” he explains, “to show the complexity that successful people are exposed to today. In our stories we are saying that you have to go your own way to reach the goal.” “Focus your energy”, “Don’t waste anybody’s time” and “Appear where you are not expected” are the titles of the three spirited short films — but how does that relate to the Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+? “The concept for the campaign comes from the heart of the target audience, which consists in large part of successful businesspeople and entrepreneurs,” explains Thomas Mock of Mercedes-AMG’s Marketing and Communications department. “These people are distinguished by their willingness to take unconventional paths.” F For that reason they deliberately chose to translate quotes from a business context into the realm of mobility. And focusing energy is one of the analogies between man and machine. To achieve maximum success, a manager must concentrate his or her strength. Rankin depicts the “Focus your energy” maxim as theater in miniature with an almost monochromatic set design — with a blonde boss, beautiful as a cinema diva, moving between brightly illuminated glass office cubicles in which her employees work. With a sense of mindfulness and purpose, the manager gives her people valuable motivation precisely where it is needed. In the video, the Mercedes- AMG E 63 S then rushes into the frame; its new, fully variable 4MATIC+ all-wheeldrive system distributes the energy exactly as the situation requires. In Rankin’s short film, the two fields of power from the business and automotive worlds create a compelling synergy. Each of the two other works by Rankin for Mercedes- AMG also consists of a character driven role as well as a driving sequence. The fastpaced driving scenes were created in Downtown Los Angeles. Rankin filmed the person-oriented scenes in London using skilled actors. “For this kind of thing you need professionals,” he says. “It’s not easy to convey a message without saying a word.” How provocative! But Rankin understands the art of wordless speech. In his haunting photo portraits, Rankin produces his own narrative worlds, creates sharply defined characters and stories that captivate through stylistic incongruities and evocative details. At the same time, he leaves room for interpretation, opens up space for the viewer’s own thoughts. The 50-year-old Briton is one of the most renowned fashion and portrait photographers of the last 30 years. Galleries all over the world exhibit his images. “Rankin is known for doing his own thing — that’s why he was the ideal partner for us,” says Thomas Mock. “He manages to illustrate things in an unusual and yet also authentic way that is close to real life.” As is the case on the set in London. The leading man in the suit is standing in front of a pair of head-high iron gears hanging from the ceiling by heavy chains. The gears stutter as though they were out of sync. The man courageously reaches into the gear mechanism, pulls out a small flywheel, holds it up to the light and places it with such precision that the mechanism starts turning again. A mover and a shaker. Someone who gets things done. Even if he doesn’t give that impression outwardly. Later we see him striding across a halfpipe, helping a fallen skateboarder to get back on his feet. The same individual shows up again at a meeting. It turns out that the manager hired the young skater. A violation of the rules? No, instead it’s the conviction that your own intuition overrides conventions. “Appear where you are not expected” is the message of this video clip. The Mercedes-AMG E 63 S 4MATIC+, which has perfect synergy with the two main characters, surprises the viewer in the same way. From 0 to 100 km/h in 3.4 seconds. Who would have thought a business sedan would be capable of so much ferocity? Y “You must dare to do something new” is also Rankin’s mantra. The work for Mercedes-AMG excited him primarily because “these clips are done differently from traditional car commercials — more like a 60-second play.” The set in the studio is very reminiscent of a theater backdrop. The minimalistic stage design. The black and white tonal palette. Above all, the light that Rankin 63


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