It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is right around the corner here in the United States, and that can only mean one thing. No, not a turkey dinner with the family, I’m taking about the insane discounts at local retail stores on Black Friday. Everyone always rushes over to their local malls to fight for 80 per cent off laptops, massage chairs they think they need but don’t, and shirts they will eventually throw into the corner of their closet. Well, almost everyone…
The Hoonigans have their own way of doing things, and when it comes to Black Friday they have a very unique way of shopping. I was recently invited along to see first-hand what that means…
The formula is simple: Hoonigans + abandoned mall = Hoon-tastic action x1000Day 1
The location was Hawthorne Plaza in California, the carpark of which was used as a set for The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift a decade ago. For this video shoot however, two Hoonigans were required to slay tires through the actual mall’s empty and dilapidated interior.
Hoonigan shoppers included 2009 and 2014 Formula Drift champion Chris Forsberg driving the white ‘hero’ car.
And high-ranked FD Pro driver Ryan Tuerck behind the wheel of the red ‘devil’ car.
Directing was Andrew Laputka, the great mind behind the entire Tuerck’d series, and someone who just last year directed 50 Years Of Fun with Speedhunters’ own Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Then there was the Director of Photography, Will Roegge from Keep Drifting Fun, who just recently filmed some Ford Escort action with Ryan.
Getting straight into the first scene, we all assembled in the middle of the mall to film Chris drifting around the central escalator. The two cars featured in the video are Chris’s FD Pro-spec Nissans that were re-wrapped for this project. What I love about smaller productions like this is that everyone one is extremely efficient with their time. Shots were banged out left and right.
That was mainly because glorious rays of sun were bathing the floor in light and no one wanted to miss the magic.
Having never been inside any sort of abandoned building before, thoughts of awesome zombie apocalypse scenes and end of the world scenarios were crossing my mind every few minutes. The mall was enormous, and with all the light beaming through the ceiling I had so many photo ideas. If only I had the opportunity to shoot a complete car feature here…
Jumping back to the shoot, after the first scene we made our way to the back of the mall for some donuts.
No, not breakfast donuts, burnout donuts. Breakfast donuts would have been cool though.
As you can see, we had nine hero cars on set. Yep, the above image is most definitely not a composite one…
This is actually the first time the hero car ‘meets’ the devil car. I spotted a couple of holes around the staircase that dropped down a good 15-25 feet into the underground parking lot. Scary.
Hearing the cars echoing throughout the mall sent shivers down my spine.
Also, more rays of light. So good!
Lunch came around quickly, and as everyone went outside for a breather and food I stayed back to grab a few shots.
Only then did I really get a sense of how abandoned this place actually is. Post-apocalyptic thoughts and stuff, you know.
After lunch, the cars were magically teleported upstairs. I swear.
This scene takes place in the beginning of the video where the hero and devil cars have yet to meet. It’s basically the hero car hooning inside the mall as the devil car creeps around, out of sight. I didn’t think that thin bridge was going to be able to hold the weight of the 370Z, and with all the holes in the ceiling I honestly thought the roof was going to cave in too.
Back downstairs, Chris decided he wanted to do some roosts. Maybe he had just finished watching BJ Baldwin’s Recoil 3?
Man, I never would have guessed an abandoned mall could be so beautiful.
With the rays shining through holes in the roof, it made for some magical photo opportunities.
By this point we were late into the first day of shooting, and it was evident that everyone was getting tired. The reason why you see the crew wearing dust masks is because this place was built in the 1970s, which means asbestos would have been used in its construction. Asbestos fibers are known to cause cancer, so safety first!
Here, Dr. Director and Chris are discussing the next scene, which just happened to be the most dangerous one in the video.
Chris was to drift around the pillars on the second floor…
Before coming out wide and getting as close to the edge as possible. Simple, right?
Definitely not. If he went too wide here there was 20ft fall to look forward to, which would surely cause some serious injuries. It wasn’t a 100ft drop, but it was very dangerous nonetheless.
Chris managed to get his tires about three inches from the edge of the second floor on his first try.
We all had to see the footage and concluded that it was pretty dumb and that Chris shouldn’t attempt it again. So, he did the stunt again. It was awesome.
The next scene involved Chris drifting on the second floor while Ryan drifted the bottom floor.
As the day started to wind down, it was really nice watching the cars and hearing their sounds echo around the mall.
The best seats in the house!
The final scene of Day 1 was a chase sequence on the second floor.
This was the first actual ‘at speed’ scene on the bridge. I’m a really paranoid person, so I was getting goosebumps watching Chris and Ryan fly over it at the pace they did.
With the first day wrapped up, it was time to knock off and prepare for another full day of shooting.Day 2
The second and final day of the shoot started off with a bang. The camera guys set up the ‘Scorpion Rig’ on the back of Chris’s car for some 360-degree action shots.
Following that, there was one final inside shot left to capture before we moved outside.
With the insanely tight confines of the mall, it was amazing to watch the guys hoon their cars around the obstacles with so much precision.
I took the opportunity to grab one more inside shot too.
After spending all of the first day inside the mall with the whole asbestos thing tripping me out, it felt so good to finally be outside and able to walk around without a mask on.
It was manji time for both drivers. The parking lot attached to the mall (cue Tokyo Drift) is just as abandoned as the mall itself. It doesn’t really show it as much though, because, well, it’s a parking lot.
We had the entire lot to ourselves and Dr. Director made good use of it. We continued on to the next scene, which was Chris and Ryan driving from the parking garage into the mall.
Earlier in this story I mentioned that the cars were teleported upstairs. Well, the crew actually hired someone to break a hole in the wall, which allowed the cars to access the second floor.
Following the parking lot wall-breaking scene, we headed up to the first floor for some leaf blowing.
We didn’t have any leaf blowers on set, so the cars were used instead. I mean, it worked, right? The leaves are definitely being blown.
Here’s another angle of the drift. Chris managed to get this close on the first try. If I had a pair of SSR GTV01s, I wouldn’t even let my car outside the garage, let alone using it to blow leaves.
With the last sets of tires ready to be fitted on the Nissans, the guys needed to finish off their current pairs. It’s really hard for Hoonigans to not slay tires, so when it was time, Chris and Ryan melted them off their wheels.
The scene I was most excited about was the Tokyo Drift one. You guys know exactly what I’m talking about, but just in case you need a reminder, check it out here. I’ll never get tired of that scene, and being able to witness a reenactment with two of the best drifters in the business was on another level to me. And it was a tandem!
The entire shoot was a blast, and miraculously everything went according to plan. I have to thank everyone that made the video possible – from the drivers to the production crew and all the people behind the scenes.
Don’t forget to check out the Bonus Images chapter below!