Thursday November 06, 2008
With an 8:30am calltime, I mistakenly took the express bus, unaware it would not stop at Tampa, a major cross street, and quite near crew parking.
The next local bus back was too far away timewise, so I caught the express bus back in hopes from its next stop a local bus would get me back to the crew parking lot in time.
Thankfully the bus halted at a red light right at crew parking location, and the driver was surprisingly helpful enough to open the door and let me out
(normally an MTA driver will go on obtusely for eight minutes why they "can't" open the door, instead of just opening the door).
From crew parking I caught the next shuttle van to where catering was set up and I had my breakfast, and eventually found someone with whom to check in.
The first segment of the commercial was being shot around the corner, and I was given a room in which I could wait.
Unfortunately it was also being used as the production office, so I couldn't exactly stretch out.
A shot breakdown clarified they would not get to my segment until just before noon.
At least it was relatively amusing; the two-way radio played the AD instructions to the set, and I got to hear various things that could have gone more smoothly.
Generally this meant "civilians" drifting into the shot, one backgrounder hoping there was time to go to the bathroom but relenting when it was hinted someone else would do the background's bicycling business, et al.
Clint Culp and Arleigh Castle arrived, and the three of us got our wardrobe.
Clint had a bathrobe and Arleigh a morning housedress, and of course I received a postal carrier uniform.
I was informed that this was not merely a national commercial, but it was to premier during the
2009 Super Bowl.
At first I was told this was a rumour, but quickly enough it was stressed throughout the enthusiastic crew and friendly ad-client producers.
Clint said in the initial breakdown he received it declared it would be a Super Bowl spot.
This would make my third national SAG commercial I'd booked.
while Taft Hartley'ing me "into" SAG
(making me SAG eligile, at any rate),
outsized me so I received no residuals.
second national commercial
was booked, filmed; the ad clients on hand loved it...
No holding fee, no word, no airing.
Based on results, the funny spot simply never aired, if it was even completed.
While waiting to be called for set for the current commercial, I checked and found I had a phone message: my agent, conveying an additional aspect to the commercial.
To help promote the spot, we were each to be interviewed in character... and it would provide a second contract to that effect, to run online for a year and a day or so.
Also while waiting, set PA
came up to say hello.
It was awesome to see him, considering Jesse had been the
on the indie short film
on which I worked, playing the
After around 11am that segment was complete, and everyone came back to our area.
Clint, Arleigh and I were brought to hair and make-up, and then we were brought down the street to the house being used.
The shot breakdown originally had their pet Bruno coming from around the house, but now it would emerge from the open front door.
As I did get to say the same line as from the audition and callback, I was body-mic'ed.
It was becoming clear that there might be only one pet owner, and eventually while spending most of the day there, Clint was wrapped.
At least he would be paid for being booked and being there, but that was as far as it would go for him.
He didn't mind: such had taken place before.
Diminutive and seemingly frail, albeit deceptively so, Arleigh is a sweetheart, and similar to the luck of
this commercial could end up helping Arleigh tremendously, at least via the online interview aspect.
Later she would demonstrate an amusing
aspect of being totally unaware at how hilarious she can be.
She had no problem chasing and calling after "Bruno"
(whose actual name was Ira).
Meanwhile I got quite a workout throughout the day myself.
I lost count how often I got to depart the property at a full run.
The directors were
Patrick von Krusenstjerna
Ole Kristian Krogstad,
whpse surnames I would eventually learm as, at the time their surnames were not on the callsheet.
During a momentary lull during the shoot day, I inquired of Patrick his surname, but his surname being either Norwegian or Swedish
(I confess I do not know which),
he said it once...
and I wouldn't even risk trying to pronounce it.
At the shoot Patrick just went by
after his production company.
First Assistant Director was David Dean, who on our meeting, stressed to me that
(an important aspect of)
his job was to make sure I Was Comfortable.
I assured him I was very experienced at physical comedy, so should anything as-yet-unscripted be required, that I would be up for it
[but not limited to],
Bruno managing to knock me down, standing or sitting on me, et al).
Patrick was a great director, and was patient not only with me but with Ira's performance.
Patrick was very good at communicating what adjustments he wanted me to make
(I just hoped my adjustments were accurate reflections of what he was conveying to me).
As early as the auditions, I named Arleigh's character.
At the first audition, it was suggested to say a "little hello" to the home-owner.
My full given name is Geoffrey Lawrence, and Lawrence is also the surname to an aspect of my mother's side of the family, so as a meta-joke and a bit of a shout-out I exclaimed, "Good morning, Mrs. Lawrence!"
At the callback I retained it, and it stuck within the commercial itself
(during the interview later, Arleigh gave herself the given name of Sheila).
Based on the camera angles and thermal images being burned and added to the storyboard
(essentially on-the-fly frame-grabs),
unless they did some judicious editing, I would have some considerable coverage.
We never stopped for lunch or any sort of meal break
(e.g., an hour of overtime and two hours of meal penalties).
The background and those from the first segment were fed a meal;
the second AD C.J. retrieved some food for me.
"Unfortunately," anytime I had a second with which to eat one to two bites, I'd be called back to my first position.
The contract and paperwork and such was finally given, but as with available time for any attempt at eating, I barely had time even to look over it/them.
Finally the gate was checked for the last time, and the commercial spot was wrapped.
But we weren't done.
From the ad agency,
reiterated to me about the interview, for which I was ready.
We decided to let Arleigh go first.
She was hilarious.
Her improv was concise, and very sweet, and hence, extremely funny.
At one point she asked if what she was saying was any good.
She was strongly reassured she was doing great.
Aside, we likened her innocence to the hilarious Margaret Dumont, famous for being unaware she was doing comedies.
Ad agency clients
were wonderful and supportive.
Right as we wrapped, Margaret took a photo of me with Arleigh and Ira
(which I promised would post only after the commercial begins to air),
which she said she'd email to me
(as of the end of January 2009, she didn't).
I provided Guia my email
(when I thanked her via email from her card she provided me).
When Arleigh was done, the camera was set up for me.
A sheet of paper with "suggested" lines was provided.
I was assured I could make the lines my own, go where I wanted with it, et al.
They did slightly stress I include the "She should just get a dog" reference.
As my mailman character clearly considered Bruno an ongoing nemesis, I took the slightly dark humoured lines and went a little darker with them; very dry and dead-pan, and my off-screen "interviewer" frequently bowed in efforts to keep from laughing out loud.
We ended with my taking off at a run, as though Bruno was coming up from behind the camera.
On returning, I completely forgot to retrieve and retain the dropped sheet of paper with the lines.
On my way back to the trailer, I checked my messages, finding my calling service, seeing if it could be clarified if I was available the next day for
I assured him I was, and I was listed as confirmed for the shoot the next day.
I finally managed to fill out the paperwork, and on changing to my own clothes, discovered that wardrobe had left... and my own socks were missing.
The ones I'd been given were snug and by then digging into me, but the assist provided me with a new pair of socks, still with th'$4.95 price on'em.
Still, they were black and fit quite comfortably.
C.J. was aware that as I did not have a car, I didn't have to go back to crew parking, and he instructed the shuttle driver to take me to the nearest bus stop.
As we approached Ventura Boulevard, an express bus zipped by.
But as we approached the next nearest bus stop at Reseda, the next express bus crept up directly behind us.
As we were at a red light, I was able to hop out, race to the stop before the bus arrived, and caught it back to Universal.
So the commercial was scheduled to start its run February 01, 2009 during the Super Bowl.
This also meant once it began airing, it would be available via YouTube and/or MySpace vids, and I could then embed it below...
Margaret and Guia each strongly assured me I would receive a DVD copy, so with adding it, I would be able to update my
I could also post frame-grabs from it, once it began to air, whether by February first and/or when it became available for viewing online.
I certainly hoped they would provide me with the finished web-based interview segment/s as well, plus the Making Of stuff being filmed right and left throughout the shoot.