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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

As the principal lead in "Office,"
a St. Louis-based
regional wild spot

McDonalds commercial

Friday, July 04, 2008: Due to a file mix-up, this report has, apparently irrevocably, lost much of its opening-report data. Really though, all that's missing is my audition being scheduled, the callback at which the director really liked my delivery, and had me dead-pan it even more. So this picks up right about there, still in late March, early April, the immediate date I'm not entirely certain, and the report content picks up at this point:

Just before 11am I checked my message to find my agent Jennifer relaying I was officially On Avail, as opposed to Everybody Being Called-Back Being "On Avail," which thankfully doesn't happen with most casting places. A little while after I got home in the afternoon, Jennifer called to congratulate me for booking the commercial!
It turned out that this will be a regional wild spot, which still is better than most. Jennifer didn't know what part of the country would be the region in which this will air, but was sure I'd get a copy, and even I figured I'd find out soon enough. I also learned of the three spots, mine was scheduled as a night shoot, which was fine as I won't lose too many hours at my day-job temp-assignment. Jennifer indicated wardrobe would be calling, and an hour or so later I did get a call from Mayumi, setting up a 3pm appointment Wednesday at Hollywood Center Studios, where I'd worked on the Going for the Gold episode of The Suite Life With Zack and Cody.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I arrived at 2:40pm for my 3pm appointment, the production offices of über content being next door to the wardrobe department (and the sound studio), for The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. The fellow at the callback is the director; so far I only know his name is Dave, and he brought me in to the small conference room where five or six relatively quiet but pleasant men (each with a laptop, which I presume were all linked with each other), and like Dave's surname, no one officially introduced themselves, nor were introduced. As requested, I wore my tan janitor outfit, which to those in the room Dave emphasized he loved, but as I silently predicted, I was handed over to wardrobe to try on various outfits, in this case, of a slightly darker colour. One was a comical one-piece coverall that I found amusing, and one of the men in the conference room found pretty hilarious. Along with a tolerable if awkward set of boots, the choices were made, and the wardrobe ladies suggested/requested on Friday that I bring my own outfit Just In Case.
Earlier while I was waiting I met Shaunt Benjamin, playing one of the two robbers. Sadly, Ezra had emailed me the night before, deducing he had not been selected. Sean said he'd seen me at the callback and forsaw I would be cast. I related how I once had the same thing happen; at an audition years ago I came across Jason Carter, auditioning for the same role, and I Just Knew he had it, and told him so. He'd not had a gig for quite some time, so was pleased to hear my prediction, but I assured him I Knew he had the part already, and neither of us had even gone into the audition room yet. I was not surprised a few weeks later to see the commercial airing... starring Jason Carter...
We were each given directions to the Friday location: the Museum of Natural History, which was fine by me; I've worked enough USC student films to know how to get down there, plus around the corner from it I worked two days on Charlie Wilson's War.
I'm very pumped up about this; so much so I neglected to ask in what region this will be airing, and for a copy of the script to study my lines, despite my already knowing them (as I want to be sure the lines I know are accurately correct).

Thursday April 10, 2008
Auditions and confirmations
Before I was SAG (and even once I was), I would be on a set for a commercial through which my agent had gotten me, and on which she knew I was... and she'd page me to notify that "even though [I] couldn't make it," I had an audition (or a callback), to which I couldn't go as I was already on set for the commercial being shot. Ironically, once again I got a same-day audition (for State Farm), in the [San Fernando] Valley. Only this time, as it was at noon'ish, I can do the audition, still have a couple of hours to prepare, and be down to the location before my calltime.
I got a call from Gareth, one of the shoot coordinators, letting me know my calltime was 6:30pm, but a meal was being served at 5:30pm in case I wanted to be there for it. He also emailed me the script, which later in the evening I checked (figuring it was the same script), and found it'd been slightly revised. At the time my printer was not working, so I had to walk down to the Internet cafe to print it out to start studying the new version of the lines. It wasn't radically different, but I know I would have to go over it all that I could.

Friday April 11, 2008
Night at the Museum
In the morning while studying the revised copy, I noticed it listed the air-date as the day before the annual day when my birthday is traditionally celebrated (e.g., legally, no one has direct knowledge of their own date of birth [being too young at the time to remember]: in a competent court of law such is inadmissable hearsay, having been provided by those purporting to be one's parents J ...). At any rate, still no mention (on the copy), as to what region it will air.
I arrived for the 5:30 "dinner" a little after 5pm. Mainly the meal was a hamburger BBQ, and as craft services was not there yet, there was nothing to drink other than orange and lemonade. Bleech. But the cheeseburger was okay.
I met 2nd AD Mark Vance, who provided co-principal Karimah Campbell-Taylor and me to available rooms in one of the trailers.
Just past 6:30pm we were brought inside to hair and make-up. Like an idiot I neglected to pocket my camera; so I have zero behind-the-scenes photos regarding this event. While in make-up, Marc passed behind us and dropped a fountain pen or such (directly behind my make-up chair), which quite literally exploded, sending ink every which way. Thankfully there was already thin cardboard sheets on the museum's marble floor. Garidey Griesemer did my make-up, and gelled down my more fly-away hair.
At wardrobe, Shirley Kurata and Mayumi Masaoka from the other day came close to having me wear my own shirt, but it ended up being an outfit of dark green pants and slightly lighter green shirt. I still had my "prop'age," as they called it the other day: my own pager, belt keys and cell phone. They were astonished not only that I even had a pager, but that there was pager-service still available, what with the advent of cell phones. I indicated since December 2007, my own new phone had been phasing out my pager, and while technically its service should have cut off at the beginning of April, at the time it was still goin' (and that generally I use the pager now as an alarm clock).
Shirley added an embroidered name tag "Art" to the green shirt.
I'm unsure as to what time we were brought to set, but we were done by about 10:45pm and signed out at 11pm.

I had the lines down, about 95%, not quite as well as I'd like. After a few rehearsals they eventually came easier, and soon I had them, if not as smoothly as I'd have liked. One line that was killing me I occasionally said the original way, which thankfully at one point script supervisor Kiran Saini notified me they liked the way I was saying the line, so I was allowed to say it the way it was stuck in my head. Also thankfully, the commercial's director Dave Laden was very patient and understanding (it helps to hear someone call him by his full name, as well as being provided a callsheet at the end of the night).
After several rehearsals and camera rehearsals we started filming. Karimah passed behind me, while co-principal Steven Pierce was at a fake albeit special-effects driven, "functional" water fountain. At the end of the spot (in which those not taking advantage of afternoon pick-me-up drinks at McDonalds are so sluggish my character calls it "Office Stupor"), I point out to Steve he's at a water fountain, not a copy machine (as he's been trying to use it as such).
I don't know if it's commercial-director tradition or what, but Dave had me do something similar to what Adam Goldstein did for the commercial spot I did for his director demo reel (one take of which he requested I substitute a line for a rather rude comment). (Adam Goldstein's spot is the first thing on my demo reel.) As it was, Dave did the same thing here. He quietly requested that at the end of my line, where I tell Steve, "That's a water fountain, not a copy machine," I was snarlingly to add, "douche-bag..."
So I did.
It took Dave quite a few seconds to say "Cut," possibly as he may have been snickering and guffawing as everyone else before the laughter really broke out. That or he wanted to see if those in front of the camera would start laughing: I didn't ask. I was having a challening enough time maintaining a straight face while the chuckling and laughing began building. I started to break an instant before "Cut" was called.
When the principal photography was in the can, we did Wild Lines, so I read from the script to make sure the lines were accurate and correct. I also did two additional tag lines (meaning there could be three versions of the spot: one promoting Premium Roast Iced Coffee, another for the [return of] the 42 oz soft drive for .89¢, and a third promoting Sweet Tea): if the other two tag lines are used, I'll receive SAG scale for each of them as well.
Our spot completed, and I was thanked by who I would presume were the producers, clients, et al.
As I changed back to my own clothes, I noted some odd dark dots on the back of my tan shirt. I deduced that Marc's pen splatter may have had more collateral damage that we'd realized. Marc was sincerely apologetic and felt very bad for this mishap (at least it's on the back), and he wrangled PA Kenny Taylor into driving me home, rather than my learning whether buses still ran locally that late.
As Marc and I completed my paperwork, Shaunt Benjamin was being brought in, along with Michael Robert Jones from the other day, and playing the third art thief was Dmitry Karpov. Shaunt was pleased to see me again: this time I was able to give him one of my cards, none of which I'd had with me the other day at the fitting.
As I was leaving, as I thanked him I did ask Dave if he knew in what region this would air. Apparently, St. Louis. I don't know if that means only within the city limits, or the surrounding area as well. I have one friend who lives in or very near St. Louis, so I'll see if she can keep an eye out for it...
Kenny and I chatted on the way back to Hollywood, particularly as the highways he was taking to get me home were being extremely uncooperative, even for the lateness of the hour. Kenny is a background actor, and I provided him with one of the Strictly Background promo cards and told him about its last Los Angeles film festival screening the following Saturday, April 19th.
I got home pretty much spot-on midnight, making it as a whole a very worth while day, evening, and the start of a great weekend...!

Tuesday April 29, 2008
More to do
On emerging from the Red Line in the mid-afternoon the day after the commercial was tentatively scheduled to begin airing (according to its original script copy), I found my voice-mail had a few messages. Jennifer call to relay that the McDonalds people needed me for some ADR work that Friday. At the time she didn't know if it was to be re-recording a line from the spot, or a fourth insert line. I called back to let her know to tell them I was available Friday, and that I looked forward to where and at what time.

Wednesday April 30, 2008
Friday and Thursday
Jennifer called to clarify Friday would be at 1pm, and later in the day they would email her with the location, which she forwarded to me when she received it. I was told it would be another session fee for my private-sector compensation for labour, slightly less than the initial session fee (being off-camera work), but still Very Helpful towards my financial status.

Thursday May 01, 2008
Jennifer notified me by phone and email that the next day/Friday was a Go for 1pm at the Venice location provided in the forwarded email the previous day. Apparently this year McDonalds has upped the price a bit for big 42 oz soft drink, to .99¢ instead of last year's 89¢, and that's the line being re-recorded, to reflect that update. Considering the Premium Roast Iced Coffee seemed to be the main focus initially, this could possibly mean maybe two or all three of the different insert lines will be used. J

Friday May 02, 2008
As the Venice location being used for the ADR session is not precisely on the bus line proper (though close enough not to be inconvenient), I left downtown at 11am, taking the 33 bus which stops the closest. According to the bus schedule, the "express" 333 bus "saves" all of five minutes at arriving at the closest destination, but its stop is farther from the desired street than the local 33 bus, negating the negligible "time saved." I chose to take the local 33 mostly as I'd never been to this particular location (or even its street), and I wanted to make sure I had enough time to find it while still being a bit early.
As it was, I arrived way early, even for me. I finally went in around 12:40pm, expective some of the McDonalds people or Dave Laden. Not so much. In fact, at 12:55pm, sound mixer Eric Ryan introduced himself and brought me up to his studio. He played back the spot, which was pretty funny, and from the way it's edited I suspected it was probable it would just be the single spot.
He brought me into the sound booth, made sure the headsets were on, and played back my line, the only difference being the .89¢ to .99¢ update. While between us my brother is the musician in the family (singer, dancer, choreographer, pianist, trumpeter, and I think still a bit of violin), I can carry a tune in a bucket. I can sing, just not as impressively as he. Meanwhile, I have a rather good acoustic sense. If I hear a version of music I know, I can tell if it's the original or a later version, et al. Somewhat pointless, but there y'go.
But when it comes to ADR, all Eric had to do was play my line and I was able to repeat it as I did on the set. He had me do it thrice, then twice more. And that was it. He wanted to make sure the omitted "Not bad" line was really being omitted, as it was not in the [visually] edited spot. He called one of the producers (he didn't mention which), reporting he got the line, but wanted to clarify about the Not Bad part. Eric even said he had me say the line a couple of times and as for dropping it right into the spot, "it's seamless." So the Not Bad was gone; Eric and I went back downstairs where I was given the faxed contract to sign. A photocopy was made for me of the signed contract, and I was done.
Getting to Venice and the location was so easy I easily could have worked another half hour in the morning before leaving for the ADR gig. It was literally about 65 minutes from 4th and Spring to Venice and Abbott Kinney. Getting back was another story: the MTA seems to have no issue with bringing people to Venice in the late morning, with far fewer transports eastbound. I got home around 3:30pm.
I would have to wait to see if my friend in St. Louis either sees the spot, or (as she's not really much of a TV watcher), see if she can get her local tv-watching friends keep an eye out for it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008
At the beginning of June I sent a letter to the two main offices of the ad agency which created the commercial, requesting the protocols involved in acquiring a copy at my expense. I received a phone message that a DVD would be sent and I'd receive it the following week, and it was on this date that it arrived. While I did receive compensation for private labour for all three tag lines being used, I didn't really expect to get all three versions of the spot with each of the tag lines, but thankfully the one that was sent was the soft drink version for which I did the ADR work.

Thursday February 19, 2009
Residuals, or rather, lack thereof
In late 2008 when actor friends learned I had done not only a national spot but a Super Bowl premiering spot, I was "quoted" amounts ranging in the thousands regarding its residuals. Around the time that national spot began to air, one actress friend of mine related that she had done a national spot for Weight-Watchers, and that three weeks from its debut date, she began to receive residual checks in the amount of over four thousand dollars, and each month for the subsequent six months no less than four thousand dollars in residuals. Checking my rental box this date, my first [private sector/non-federally connected] residual check was for about ten percent that single-month amount my friend had begun ti receive. Also considering that to date I have received no residuals whatsoever for the McDonalds spot (despite at least one report that it aired, plus receiving two sets of holding fees for it so it could be used in two 13-week cycles, one for its initial cycle, then another for October 2008), I suspect I may have to see if SAG ever implemented that Commercials Monitoring program, and/or at least learn SAG's formula with which residuals are calculated. If in a month I only receive a few hundred dollars in residuals for the national spot, I will know something definitely will be amiss.

As seen starring in "Office" - the St. Louis regional McDonalds Spot
Office stupour.

Happens every day. By three o'clock this place is crawling with zombies.

And if you don't have a pick-me-up drink from McDonalds?
[Offscreen male voice in men's room]: Whoa -- hey...!
It could happen to you too.

All you gotta do is drive though. It's simple.

You can get a forty-two ounce soft drink for just ninety-nine cents! Look at this guy... That's a water-fountain: not a copier.

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