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An Aston Martin Vantage N430 and the Old Military Road – evo Archive

Shooting an Aston Martin in the Scottish Highlands helped put film-maker Sam Riley on the map

‘This is probably the film that has done more for my career than any other,’ says Sam Riley, evo’s erstwhile film producer. The film in question was shot back in 2014 and stars an Aston Martin Vantage N430 and the Old Military Road through the Cairngorms in Scotland.

When Sam first arrived at evo ten years ago I think it’s fair to say that we got on straight away. I hadn’t done much presenting to camera before and it was Sam’s involvement more than anything else that made me take the leap. We both knew the sort of films that we wanted to make, with inspiration taken from the big travel and extreme sports productions of the day. It took us a while to get our chance but we eventually started making a sporadic series of films about some of the greatest driving roads in the world. They weren’t big-budget productions, but with Sam’s skill with both camera and editing mouse we managed to do some things that we were really proud of.

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> Aston Martin V8 Vantage N430 review, price and specs

Most of the time I would be doubling up, writing a feature for the magazine as well as presenting the film for evo’s YouTube channel, so Dean Smith would be there taking photos too. On this occasion, however, Dean and I had already been to the road with a V12 Zagato a year or so before, so it was just me and Sam on the trip. Now, we wouldn’t usually have got the nod to just disappear to Scotland for a couple of days, but there was a BMW i8 launch taking place up near Inverness and we managed to convince those who needed convincing that if we could film both things on the trip then it would be an excellent use of time.

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‘The timetable was the usual rush,’ recalls Sam. ‘We drove up on a Tuesday, I think, and shot the opening scenes on the west coast of Scotland before driving across to Perth. We then shot most of the film in the Cairngorms on the Wednesday. Then we filmed the BMW i8 in a different location on the Thursday morning and afternoon, before collecting the Aston again and going back to the Cairngorms to get more footage that evening. It was the middle of summer so we could shoot until after 11pm. And we did.

‘Pretty much the last things that we filmed were the dream sequence shots of walking up to the Aston and then driving off in slow motion with a healthy dose of tyre smoke. We didn’t have a gimbal, so to get the smooth tracking we bolted the big camera onto the bonnet of my Golf long-termer and rolled along with the engine off! That shot would be so much easier now.’

I also remember someone asking me later what sort of drone Sam had used to get the big, high-perspective scenery shots. I had to tell them that we didn’t have a drone, Sam just walked up a big hill with his camera and tripod.

‘You then drove all the way back home that night, you madman!’ remembers Riley (something I’d forgotten or blanked from my mind…). ‘I set off but pulled into some services and fell asleep in the car. I got a parking ticket because I’d overstayed the two-hour limit. I think I snuck it through on expenses though. Probably cost more than a hotel would have done.

‘Anyway, as there was no time pressure the edit kept being put on the back-burner, so it wasn’t until nine months later that the film came out. Aston absolutely loved it though, and I remember them talking to me at whatever the next motor show was. When I went freelance a couple of years later some of the first work I did that really helped me get off the ground was with Aston Martin. I’m sure that film was a large part of the reason.’

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