"But it's a cold heat..."
The first two commercials I ever did were for Volvo, the first of which was filmed two days in late May 1998 up in the Mojave Desert.
The second filmed at Universal Studios backlot in August 1998.
Although both commercials were non-SAG commercials,
it was the "ice breaker" at least; my First Commercial/s.
They would also only be airing in England and/or Europe.
The first one shot for two days - and was so far a drive north-east drive that I was almost late for my first day's call.
I expected it to take So Much Time to drive and it ended up being even farther than I'd anticipated.
I was so in the middle of nowhere, I was close to a bit of a panic, but kept calm in the knowledge that most car commercials tend to be shot in the middle of nowhere.
I finally saw the many white location wagons in the distance and I arrived still with some time to spare.
It turned out that throughout the otherwise sunny day, the desert was freezing cold, an aspect that as an east coast transplant I had not anticipated from a desert.
The entire first day, dressed as a road repair crew
we were absolutely freezing, the wind easily cutting like knives through what little clothing we were wearing.
Meanwhile the crew on the camera car and camera truck were all wearing thick hooded parkas...
As it was, due to the cold, at the end of the first day, one of the four guys of the spot went completely unprofessional and announced his refusal to come the following day.
Most of the morning of the second day
(before we of the road crew were needed),
were shots taken by helicopter.
Replacing the unprofessional fourth guy from the previous day who refused to return
(ironically the second day's temperature of which thankfully was nice and toasty most of the day),
we did have a new fourth guy.
The new guy was a super pleasant and friendly fellow who donned the jumpsuit and hung out with Paul Pruett and me the entire day, the three of us cracking jokes and generally making merry between takes.
When an overly cool breeze would come through, we'd hustle into "the road crew" truck.
This time we also brought to the "set" our jackets to have on between takes.
At day's end we learned the new fourth guy was the commercial's producer.
Sadly, by the time I began putting together these reports, I have no idea where the callsheet might be, and I cannot recall the pleasant fellow's name.
Wednesday August 12, 1998
Working an award winner
Months later, my commercial agent Jennifer called me to say I was asked to do another Volvo commercial at Universal Studios.
I thought at first she meant an audition, but she clarified the
(ten years later for which
I would work again),
liked me from my working the previous shoot, and they Just Wanted Me to come be in their latest Volvo commercial, shooting at Universal Studios.
The scene would be working the New York street set on the Universal Studios backlot, my first time there
(not my last...).
Pleasant Frank Herbert fan Paul Pruett and I were the only two of the previous Volvo spot that were doing the latest one.
They had us dressed in clean white shirts and dark pants... to collect trash.
We politely pointed out to wardrobe that is not how any American sanitation men are dressed while working, but we were told "that's how Europeans think [they] are..."
Between takes and hanging out near our trailer, Paul and I would wave at the happy Universal Studios Tour Tram tourists as they frantically took photos of us, Paul under his breath saying to them that we were, "Yes: actors, in our natural habitat..."
We were principals, treated well and had our own trailer rooms, and our action on set was placing light-weight garbage bags into our truck, presumeably to reflect the time as early morning.
The scene for the spot, titled
had us picking up filled but lightweight trash bags at the curb and placing them into the back of a standard garbage truck, as some business man nearby is confronted with a friendly, bouncy Jack Russell terrier.
Never receiving a copy, Paul and I would have no idea how the rest of the spot looked.
Lunch was directly across from the famous Clock Tower/Town Square seen in countless movies
(and television series...).
As it turned out, the second Volvo spot was a Bronze Lion Winner at the 1999 Cannes Lions Awards!
I found out about that from a call from Melbourne, Australia, from a woman inquiring about it.
Apparently she was representing an Aussie TV show that wanted to air such winners or such.
For a time I felt nothing ever did seem to come of that
(as she had mentioned an "appearance fee" for the talent...).
Several months later (around the time I began to suspect it was not going to be used), I did finally receive payment for the usage.
I wonder if my friends in Canberra
and in Sydney
ever came across it (although possibly not, if it only aired in Melbourne...).