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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

national commercial

Tuesday, November 04, 2003
From the (October 13th) beginning of the nightmarish MTA strike hitting Los Angeles, my ability to travel became extremely limited. I notified my commercial agent Jennifer that I could only do auditions in the Hollywood area to which I could walk or take a bike. That limited my auditions to three places I knew local to my domicile. I received an 11:45am audition for Halls at one of the two easiest within-reach spots, having gotten the call for it the day before. I was auditioning for the role of a stadium groundskeeper. I had a pair of khaki pants, so I visited the Supply Sergeant on Hollywood Boulevard and found a small (e.g., my size) long sleeve matching khaki shirt. It had button-pockets on each breast, giving the impression (with the khaki pants), that it was almost a uniform. It certainly matched and resembled to my eye a groundskeeper outfit.
I bought the shirt for about $11.00.
Characteristically, I arrived at my 11:45am audition around 11am. I looked over the storyboard which was "the story/script," and it looked like a very cute funny bit. From a close up of a loyal sports fan screaming at the top of his lungs, it is revealed that the shrieking sports fan is alone in a massive empty stadium. Understandably, he now needs a Halls to refresh his yelled-out throat...
Down on the otherwise empty playing field is the stadium groundskeeper. He notices the lone, screaming fan up in the otherwise empty stands, and he shakes his head to indicate the guy up there is nuts.
They had just finishing auditioning a few screamers before I was to go in. Other performers auditioning for the groundskeeper role were coming in and I couldn't help but notice they were almost uniformly dressed as though they were auditioning for immigrant assistant home-landscapers.
They were also auditioning for Assistant Groundskeepers as well. I went in with another fellow. After slating, I was to push a dolly (as though it were the machine that leaves white lines on a playing field), stop at the mark, turn directly to camera (the screaming fan), shake my head, then say the line, "Should've locked that gate..."
We would "go back to one" [our first position], then the same action, but one this "second take," the assistant would say the line. We did so, and we were done.

Monday, November 10, 2003
It used to be that a callback for an audition was one to three days later. Lately it's been up to eight days. Friday the 7th I got a call that on Monday I had the 1:59pm callback for Halls.
I arrived at 1:20pm, in the same matching khaki outfit. A few "immigrant assistant home-landscaper" type performers were back, plus two in Actual Stadium Groundskeeper type outfits, one of whom was also in khaki matching shirt and pants as I (the other was in a dark blue outfit).
I could hear recorded screaming, so I knew that within, the producers were watching tapes from the other day. It turned out they were "short" on Assistant Groundskeepers (it was, after all, still a tad early), so the one guy they had on hand was asked if he could stick around "a few times." He went in with the guy just before me. As I waited, the young woman at the front desk called someone's agent to put him On Avail for the screaming fan role.
I was called in. "Normally," at a callback, there have been drastic script and/or story revisions and one needs to rethink a character at a moment's notice. This wasn't one of those times. I was to do exactly as I'd done the week before. The only adjustment was, I was to address my line to my assistant, and when I'd initially auditioned, the guy auditioning for the assistant had chosen to lean way over the dolly at my right.
Apparently now, in the previous callback guy's slot, the assistant had been asked pretty much to follow a step behind the groundskeeper, and I was not informed of this change. So I said my line again, glancing towards my right.
"Could you do that again...?" one of the seated gentlemen said.
I moved Back To One, and asked, "Did you want any adjustments?"
He considered for a moment, then said, "This time, shake your head, look to [the assistant] and say your line. And do the line a bit slower this time."
I clarified as to when he wanted the head shake (before or after the line), then on Action, I started. I stopped at my mark, in the dead silence looked towards camera after the slightest bit of a "from where is that sound coming...?" look on my face, then shook my head wearily, glanced over my left shoulder (sure enough, there he was...), and said my line, "Should've locked that gate..."
I moved on, trying not to scream.
"I'm sorry," I said a bit sheepishly. "I think I said that a bit too fast again: would you mind if I tried that again?"
I'm sure the pause wasn't as long as I would later interpret it.
"No, that's okay," he said, and I was thanked. I thanked them all and I left.
I signed out and walked home, internally kicking myself for several blocks. Even as the line had come out, I knew I was saying it too fast, probably the same speed as previously.
I had to let it go. But I felt I'd let myself down; as though the entire callback had been a complete waste of time...
About an hour after getting home, my pager went off. Jennifer reported that I was On Avail for the commercial. Still, I'd been On Avail before, and they'd gone with someone else.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
A week earlier I'd worked on my first student film, out of UCLA: Solo. After the lunch for its wrap party (having finished before noon), I had provided the director and crew (themselves student directors), with enough of my calling cards should any of their friends or classmates need talent.
I'd received a call to audition for a Thesis Film as she'd gotten my card either from Patrick or Matthew, and I was scheduled for a 5pm audition. With no transport apart from my bike, I rode the roller-coaster like road that is Sunset Boulevard from Hollywood to UCLA. I was way early, mostly as I wasn't sure how long it would take me.
On my way, my pager went off. It took me a few minutes to find an actual pay-phone along Sunset Boulevard, but when I did, it was Jennifer congratulating me for my having been booked on the Halls commercial.
I called back, and Jennifer clarified this was a National Spot, and indicated I'd get a call later on for a fitting for sometime the next day. Unfortunately the pay-phone wasn't exactly hi-end, so she began getting softer until I was just barely aware she hadn't been disconnected altogether.
After my UCLA audition, I was just about to unlock my bike when my pager went off. I went back in and checked, and had received a voice-mail from Kerry, scheduling me for a 4:30pm fitting the following day. She indicating not knowing what I'd worn to the audition/s, so I figured I'd just wear what I wore, and as she wanted "a change" (which I didn't have), I figured I'd bring along my paratrooper boots. I haven't owned steel-toe workboots in years.
I called back the number she gave me and got her voice mail (most likely she was calling the other actors as well). I confirmed my appointment time and that I'd be there.
It occurred to me as I initially wrote this report, that this was the second principal-role commercial I've done in which a small investment in clothing may have helped get me the role. Pre-SAG, I auditioned as a head scientist for a commercial for Fox Sport Interactive (for which they actually made two different spots in one day, using me as the head scientist for both spots).
As I actually had enough notice for its audition, I'd gone out and obtained a lab coat for about $15, and wore it over a shirt and tie at the audition. The two spots were non-SAG and a one-time buy-out, but they aired a lot at the time (though mostly on Fox cable sports channels), and I was even told by a then-coworker that he'd seen one aired on the JumboVision at the Staples Center.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Through much of the night and during the morning, it rained. It let up in time for me to head over to the fitting. I arrived for the 4:30pm calltime about 3:40pm.
Most of the top brass were in a production meetings, but two ladies working wardrobe had me sign in and began to have me check out an outfit of a light grey shirt and dark green work pants.
The fellow playing the screaming fan arrived, and they fit him with varied sports-team type numbered shirts. The fellow who spoke at the callback is the director, Jeffrey Gorman. Rather tall, the man either has the driest sense of humour since my friend Frank Milewski, or he's all work.... I'd neglected to remove my green t-shirt, and a bit of it was showing under the grey shirt. He looked me over, then pointed out he didn't like the li'l bit of green. The wardrobe ladies and I indicated it was my own t-shirt. He pretty much snarled, "You're ruining the whole thing!"
I prayed he was kidding.... I was quickly given a white t-shirt into which I changed.
The third actor arrived, a Scatman Crothers lookalike named Gerry Black. He got into a similar outfit to mine, and Jeffrey Gorman led us into the production room, where friendly but unintroduced fellows looked over Gerry and me. Then Jeffrey began to point out to the men that Gerry was the "head" groundskeeper and I and the assistant.
I decided it would most likely be detrimental to correct anybody, mostly as I figured This Sort Of Sudden Unexpected Change probably happened a lot. Clearly they'd made a decision and some miscommunication had taken place. I concluded I must have heard wrong Jennifer on the conking-out pay-phone back on Sunset Boulevard.
As it was, I was still a principal, and I had a contract. All I had to do now was to do My Best with which to bring director Jeffrey Gorman and producer Lilly LaBonge's vision to life on the screen without ego getting in the way.
I signed out and received a callsheet and directions. I was told by pleasant production manager Philip Brooks that the misspelling of my name on the callsheet would be corrected by the next day, and certainly corrected for the contract. It was the same misspelling as with the ending credits of the Statue of Liberty TLC documentary (GEOFFERY instead of Geoffrey)...
Along with the other two, my calltime was 8:30am and we learned it was being shot at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at USC.

Thursday, November 13, 2003
I was dropped off at 6am for my 8:30am calltime, thereby acquiring a good hot scrambled egg and bacon breakfast. It turned out they were filming two spots that one day, and there were just over a hundred background artists. who did have the 6am calltime. Second assistant director Jason Slaughter had just put onto our trailer doors our names. My name was still misspelled as Geoffery, and Nikitas (as the screaming fan) found his surname also misspelled on the callsheet, but I did not acquire the correct spelling. For my door name-label, Jason could only go by my misspelled name on the callsheet.
We three got our costumes and relaxed throughout the morning while the first commercial was filmed. Nikitas and I chatted for some time. This was his first Big Gig and he was Taft Hartley'd into SAG for it, and had not yet really done very much prior to this. Jason escorted him into the stands for his single shots.
Lunch was called at noon, during which I kept wondering why the director looked so familiar, apart from having met him at the wardrobe fitting and his being at the callback. He was never really in proximity for me to inquire as to on what he'd previously worked about which I might be aware. There seems to be more than one Jeffrey Gorman on IMDB. A few days later I began to suspect Jeffrey Gorman might have been the director for my first national commercial, through which I had been Taft Hartley'd, but I had no way to verify it.
Gerry Black had an easy enough name to be spelled correctly. He and I spoke for some time before lunch about some of the work he'd done during his career, including but not limited to having been in Hill Street Blues for its earliest seasons.
Gerry and I were escorted out to the field sometime after 1:20pm or so. The camera was set up in the stands in the lower rows. Gerry was positioned at the line-drawing machine, profile to the camera. I was set up next to him, Gerry between the camera and I. At first I thought I would be a step or a half step behind or ahead of him. I got placed Directly Next To Him, so seemingly he would eclipse me from the camera.
The first few takes we were both to be looking up at a certain point. This eye-line point was shifted a few times, and each time on the playback his "Shoulda locked that gate" line got a laugh from those in the open tent with the monitor. The camera was moved down to field level, but the same angle; they had it so Gerry was still eclipsing me, making me wonder if I was completely blocked or if Gerry would appear to have two noses.
After we were done, after Gerry did one last take with a different (in-joke line with which Jeffrey had supplied him, regarding locking out someone specific by name), the young, smiling ad clients came over to us and thanked us both fervently. Politely, I "neglected" to ask them if I was at all visible.
They had a photo of themselves with Gerry and I, as well as with my camera.
Gerry and I were wrapped. Earlier Nikitas had offered to drive me home, but now he still had work to do with more shots. Gerry then offered to drive me home, even though Jason implied being able to get me home.
On the drive home, Gerry pleasantly insisted I should have my own show; my character looks were such as to remind him of Robin Williams (a reference I've heard before). At Gerry's request I gave him my card as he implied Working On Something in which I could be used. (I never ever heard from him.)

Monday, December 16, 2003
Deck the Halls with Boughs of Silence
Amongst numerous auditions and callbacks, my agent Jennifer called regarding another commercial audition the following day. She also indicated my pay for the Halls commercial finally has come in, which I could pick up at the office on Friday.
Beyond that date... silence. No Holding Fee, no status update/s, and to anyone's knowledge no airing and no commercial. The spot simply vanished. I never even saw the other commercial they'd shot that same day. I have no idea why the amusing spot never made it to the air waves.

Saturday May 05, 2012
Just a test?
After posting a previous day's update on my Facebook group, and Sharing it therefrom to my regular profile, regarding finding online the Charter commercials on which I'd worked background, I got a reply-thanks from Robert, as well as his notifying me that he'd learned some of those five spots were "test commercials," that were not (to be) aired. Makes me wonder whether this Halls commercial was "just a test," hence it never airing...

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