Shutterstock employees worked tirelessly throughout the heat, noise, and excitement of the Indianapolis 500. Yes, the IndyCar race that draws over 250,000 fans. In the summer of 2022, Mark Infante, Executive Producer of Shutterstock Studios, walked this hallowed ground as he followed racing celebrity Jimmie Johnson and his pit crew—amongst screaming fans.
Together, Carvana and Shutterstock Studios created a seven-episode docuseries, episode trailers, and a series trailer. Their work was aired on SKY in the UK, NBC in the US, across various Carvana social channels, and even at the numerous IndyCar races.
Shutterstock’s team captured every moment of the race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Infante himself was working on a new Carvana documentary series titled Reinventing the Wheel, which was produced by Shutterstock Studios, the company’s creative and production arm. Shutterstock Studios offers end-to-end branded content creation for some of the biggest clients around the world.
“I gave up a lot of weekends over the course of the season to be a part of this, but it felt worth it. I did things that I will probably never get to do again,” said Infante.
He was tasked with telling the real story of an athlete reinventing his career. The tale of Jimmie Johnson’s ambitions and experiences–all with beautiful videography and photography.
Photos by Shutterstock Studios for Carvana.
Carvana Has a Story to Tell
“Carvana is a long-term client and one of the first clients that the Shutterstock Studios team worked with when it began two years ago,” shared Mark.
The team had a goal from the beginning to hone in on storytelling-focused content, even for commercial clients. Shutterstock Studios is determined to develop stories that deserve to be told, and to tell those stories authentically. Carvana’s project was exactly that sort of work.
To be as authentic as possible meant not just gathering race-day footage of Jimmie. They also needed to capture experiences off-track. These include shots of the pit crew, families, and children.
Infante and his team’s approach could be described philosophically as “observational storytelling.” They wanted to create content that didn’t feel overproduced. Instead, they strive to create stories based on real life.
Shutterstock Studios Are the Storytellers
“A Forbes article called this something like a ‘season-long home video’ and that is a good summation of what we wanted the project to feel like for the viewers,” said Infante.
He wanted the documentary to feel intimate. It feels like viewers are hanging around with their families, because that’s how shooting Jimmie Johnson’s career transition felt to him.
Infante spent so much time with Johnson that he, and the other Shutterstock Studio employees, began to feel like an extended part of his team. And, that too is part of telling a great story. Sometimes, you need to just be there and capture the world as it is.
As Infante noted, “It takes restraint to let things happen–as they happen–rather than to dictate it.”
The Big Payoff of Reinventing the Wheel
But, it wasn’t all barbecue sessions and family parties with Johnson’s team. In order to create the necessary content, the Shutterstock Studios team had to deal with a variety of complex environments.
“We were a small part of a massive production,” shared Infante. Broadcast teams always had the first shot priority.
Johnson’s car speeds around oval tracks that are miles long. With that in mind, the Shutterstock team was constantly scouting, planning, and coordinating to get the best footage possible to craft Carvana’s most honest story.
It paid off. The Carvana series has received global coverage. Most importantly, more people than ever now understand what it’s like to be Jimmie Johnson—an accomplished professional athlete who’s taking on a new challenge at the height of his career.