VW Passat Feature Films


While we were shooting a New Beetle campaign for Arnold Worldwide, they approached us about this other idea they had ... to make 120 little “feature films” explaining the 120 new features of the new VW Passat. We showed them the fifty “Art Breaks” Brand New School had done for MTV over the years and claimed that we had invented the genre.

There was one crucial difference though: MTV Art Breaks are meant to be conceptually and visually random and unconnected, while the VW Passat films needed to communicate a very specific technical feature of the car, albeit in a possibly very oblique, absurd way. Each film is like a little puzzle, and the viewer is not quite sure what it means until the type appears to explain it all.

During the writing process, our team came up with more than 80 concepts. The agency chipped in some of their own ideas and eventually pared the list to an initial round of 25 films. Just like we had done it with the first ten Fuel TV films, or with all of the MTV Art Breaks, we tried to incorporate as many different techniques, looks and feels as possible. Some films are straight live action shot on film or video, others involve CG, stop motion or cel animation. It is this very Brand New School-specific sensibility that Eye Magazine later described as “über-dextrous.”

The agency liked the idea that most of the films had the quality of an art or film school project produced over a weekend, which in those days, of course, was the formal signifier for being “viral.” The remaining 95 feature films were produced by Lobo, Brickyard VFX, Tomato, Life Long Friendship Society and Shyam.

Agency: Arnold Worldwide, Boston
Client: Volkswagen

Development, Animation & Post Production: Brand New School, Los Angeles
Creative Director: Jens Gehlhaar
Writers: Eli Carrico, Sean Dougherty, Max Erdenberger, Anthony Furlong, Jens Gehlhaar, Mark Groeschner, Kevin Hanney, Hugh Keenan, Doug Lee, Eli Mavros, Megan McGinley, Zach Wakefield
Designers/Animators: Camila Benitez, Andy Bernet, Ian Etra, Anthony Furlong, Kyu Kim, Robert Kim, Thomas Kurniady, Carmine Lalette, Han Lee, Kevin Robinson, John Sadler, Clarissa Tossin, Mark Wurts
Editors: Robert Auten, Trevor Matcek
Flame Artist: Alan Latteri
Producer: Craig Houchin

Production Company: Brand New School
Director: Jens Gehlhaar
Director: Ben Go
Director: Max Erdenberger
Producer: Bo Platt
Director of Photography: Michael Percasio
Production Designer: Simon Morgan
Photographer: Ian Brook
Shot on stage and location in Los Angeles

Music: On Music and Sound, Santa Monica