This Is How We Captured This ‘Grey Ghost’ BMW
Photography by Jeremy Heslup
Another crisp morning before sunrise in San Francisco. Sean and I are up again early before the sunrise in order to meet up with Jim Huff and his 1600 NeueKlasse BMW 4-door, nicknamed “The Grey Ghost”.
Shooting in the city always presents its challenges, and we do our best to avoid them at all costs. However, there are some opportunities where exceptions can be made, especially when the cities provide such a scenic backdrop for the films. To start, we met up with Jim before dawn at Twin Peaks, a park area just southwest of the city that’s elevated with an outlook of most of the surrounding area.
Not surprisingly, we weren’t the only ones there: we found ourselves at a Land Rover commercial shoot that had already staked its claim to the side of the mountain facing the city. Thankfully, we were quick enough—and they were nice enough—to allow us to get a few static shots before giving us the boot. We then moved to the other side for the drone shots, and to get what else we could before the sun appeared in the east.
The most amazing thing about shooting in the Bay Area is the easy access to roads like Skyline Blvd. Roads like these are optimal: a lack of traffic during weekdays, and also tree cover. Trees make our lives easier, and their cover gives us a ton of extra time to get what we need in soft light…ensuring less of a rush in the mornings. We move to Stage Road, another quiet staple of the Bay Area shoots, just inland from Pescadero. The great thing about filming with cars like the BMW and with guys like Jim is an understanding of what’s needed, and the ability to maneuver around quickly and not burn too much time.
Huff is a character, you can tell he loves to drive, and loves to drive his 4-door. His style is extended through the 1600, and it just oozes cool from every angle. Not the flashiest car that people have ever seen, but if you know about 1600s then you know it’s special. We moved onto the interview after breakfast at Alice’s, and we have a great time discussing the story behind the BMW and what led Jim to it—which, funny enough—can be traced back to a scale model car his wife got him. After the interview, we moved onto somewhere with different scenery, at a place we hadn’t shot before: Ocean Beach and Lands End. Even though these places were quite populated, we were able to find nice pockets to do side-by-sides, and then at the end, overlooking the water for the sunset.
All of these shoots are quietly fun, for a number of different reasons. Huff and his 1600 were a breeze to shoot. He’s a fun-loving guy who just loves to drive his car and share it with others; what more could you ask for? Because of the teamwork and cooperation it takes on both sides, when an episode like this is finished quickly and without too much fuss, everyone truly feels some level of accomplishment and gratification.