When Toyota approached writer/director Julian King to craft a documentary-style profile of their Arizona Proving Ground, they were looking to celebrate the Proving Ground’s 25th anniversary. Years before a Toyota car or truck hits the market, they prove themselves here, in the secretive expanse of roads and highways in the Arizona desert known as the Proving Ground. It’s where Toyota brutally drives every pre-release car and truck to their absolute limit, through every driving condition, every weather pattern, every potential calamity. With deep roots in an elevated, cinematic approach to documentary-inspired work, King came on board to tease out the deeper ethos and find untold stories from Toyota that connect on a human level, while pushing the limits of traditional auto advertising and exploring the experiential.
King’s process began with spending time on the Proving Ground to begin to understand the people who define it, the work that happens there, and what it tells us about Toyota. He walked the highways, dirt roads, and race tracks with Richard Woodroffe - the Proving Ground’s manager and a retired race car driver - getting into deep conversations as Woodroffe would kick the tarmac for cracks, musing on his quarter-century stewardship.
As the two chatted, a theme began to emerge — Woodroffe’s sheer diligence, his quiet honesty, and his unrelenting pursuit of perfection emerged as the pillars of the brand made manifest. And not only does the sheer diligence of the testing speak volumes about Toyota as a brand, the Proving Ground has a uniquely American identity as well — it has played a pivotal role in Toyota's expansion to the US and their evolution into a global brand. That reliability, quality, and durability that define Toyota in the US - those principles are built here, on Woodroffe’s Proving Ground.
King dove deep into these principles and set out to capture the sheer force of the Proving Ground. The place where cars are bent to break, where every bolt is battle tested, where one man demands the best of his team. Inspired by the twists and turns of the track and the explosive quality of cars being pushed to their limit, the writer/director sought to bring the Toyota consumer into the driver’s seat to create a film that immerses the viewer in the lived experience of this place.
Through high-velocity car work and aerial photography, juxtaposed against the intimacy of King’s recorded conversations with Woodroffe, we are left with the beautiful balance of authentic humanity and epic vision that reflects the monumental legacy of Toyota.