July 16, 2014

Behind the Scenes of JCVD’s “Epic Splits”

When the Volvo ad aired last year, it immediately put Jean-Claude Van Damme back to the top of his game and most importantly introduced him to the new generation of action fans.

FX Guide provided a great behind the scenes look at how the commercial was put together by talking to the people behind it.

The Idea Behind It: “We wanted to show the full potential of Volvo Dynamic Steering, a world-first innovation,” Folke Film told FX Guide. “So before we started the creative work, we interviewed the engineers that invented the system.



In the middle of this interview one of the engineers said, “By the way, the other day I reversed with a truck and a trailer at high speed. I didn’t think it was possible, but with the new steering…” And there it was. Then we started to think about what could happen between two reversing trucks. When the idea to do a split came up, Jean-Claude Van Damme was the obvious choice.

Apparently Folke Film researched the stunt for about five months which included various tests and building a safety support for JCVD.

Folke went on to discuss the location which was in Spain: “We wanted road that was absolutely straight for as long as possible, and a smooth surface in great condition, preferably in a closed off area so we could work and prepare undisturbed.”

FX Guide explored how they shot the stunt: An ARRI Alexa was used for the all-in-one shot mounted on a Scorpio Arm Camera Car. Since the commercial shows an early morning sun, that left only a small 15 minute window to shoot. Van Damme was supported with a system of wires attached to his body. “But the wires was just for safety reasons, it didn’t affect the test or the stunt itself,” notes Folke. “In addition, on each of the two side mirrors we built a small platform, one for each foot, for Mr. Van Damme to stand on.”

“Since all was done in one take, the edit was almost ready on set,” explains Folke. Once we had the shot it was just a matter of finding when we wanted to open up and when we wanted to end the scene.”

“We did the grade with The Mill, the colourist worked magic with the look,” adds Folke. “But Ed Wild, our DoP, and his team had paved the way so it was hard not to succeed. And after that the safety rig and wires were removed (by Swiss Stockholm), purely for aesthetic reasons. The tricky part was that when we tracked out in the shot and had the safety rig against the sky. And of course there was some reflections on the trucks that we needed to get rid of.”

For the record, I consider FX Guide one of the best websites on the internet as they always provide great insight into the behind the scenes work that goes into creating stunts, action scenes and commercials.

As a little flashback, check out “The Epic Splits” Volvo Commercial from last year. It almost makes you want to buy a Volvo… almost.


Source: FX Guide

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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