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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

A-List Family "Gym"

(National / International) commercial

Saturday August 29, 2009
It is rare enough to have a commercial callback on a Saturday; this was the first time I'd had two callbacks fall on the same Saturday, for Canon and for AT&T. For the AT&T spot, while on the phone to each other, two female friends are each on respective exercise treadmills. Due to a group plan, each treadmill "beams in" ten friends each. One friend has the proper AT&T plan, the other does not, the latter's group of which are hurled unceremoniously off the treadmill onto the floor.
For the initial audition a few days earlier, all we had to do was jog in place in a line, then seem to smack into each other like a squished sandwich.
For the callback, as we were previous notified, the commercial's stunt coordinator would be on hand, and we Would Be Falling... and that On The Day, there would be no mat...
Due to the Canon callback being in Santa Monica and the AT&T callback in Beverly Hills, I erred on the side of caution and was early for both... for the AT&T callback three hours early... and that was after stopping to have lunch.
While for the initial audition we did have a full ten person group, for the callback it was three at a time. My group consisted also of a lovely girl (Ali Cobrin), and a goth'ed out fellow named Mickey Jury. All auditioners had all been informed we could opt not to do the fall, as there was a treadmill in which the group is not thrown off. Having spent about 35+ years doing major pratfalls on no-mat stages for childrens-theatre shows, I indicated to the clients no issue with doing the stunt. I was placed between Ali and Mickey, and we all took our dive. Then the stunt coordinator came over and ("neglecting" to tell me I was about to be used as a practical prop), it was demonstrated how Mickey was to fall on top of me, which we did for the second take, after which we were thanked and done.

Monday August 31, 2009
Booked / Fitting
In the late morning, around 11:30am, I came upstairs to get a cell signal but there were no messages. When I went to leave for the day, I had three messages waiting (not surprisingly, the first call came at about 11:45am...). Two were from my agent, the first congratulating me that I was booked for the AT&T spot (the second hoping I got the first message), and that their wardrobe people would contact me as they wanted a fitting... the same day.
I called back the designer (whose was the third message), and learned the production company was über content, which was the same company that in April 2008 made the McDonalds commercial in which I was the lead. I arrived a half hour early for the 5:30 appointment time we scheduled, and by 5:30 they'd finished with those who were there before me.
They fitted me with various outfits, though the clients indicated Really Liking the outfit I'd worn for the audition and callback. One gentleman remembered the t-shirt "had something on it," which I reported was a "Property of Deep 13 Athletics" shirt, a reference to Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (technically I'd worn it for the audition and the callback as a quasi-joke, due to its athletic reference).
I was given the location map (not letting on my being aghast to learn it would shoot in distant Torrance...), and that I'd be called the following day with the calltime. At home I went through and clarified getting there and back would be possible, depending on the calltime. If it was before 6:30am, I would have a problem. A friend indicated having a meeting in Venice Wednesday afternoon: if I needed a ride back she could come down to retrieve me. I knew the buses would get me back okay, and most likely could find someone willing enough to get either back to the Valley, or at least to Hollywood or such.

Tuesday September 01, 2009
According to my research, the earliest I could get to the Del Amo Financial Center location in Torrance would be a bit after 6:30am, and that would just be getting off the bus, thankfully at least at the Hawthorne Boulevard/Carson intersection.
I should have predicated that the moment I pulled my clothes from the dryer was when the phone would ring. From über content I received for the next day an 11am calltime, which was an obvious relief.

Wednesday September 02, 2009
I arrived at the bus destination at the time I expected: 10:10am for my 11am calltime (a couple of blocks shy of my destination I espied MTA bus stops for the 210, a route up in the Hollywood area I use a lot... never even considered it offering it as an option). Following production signage, I came across grip trucks in the parking lot, just as SAG Rep Melissa was arriving as well. At first I thought she might be part of production; she and I followed the labyrithal levels and sidewalks until we began to spot equipment and such. I was not previously aware that SAG Reps were outside-hires: not fellow actors.
No trailers for principals for this production: the holding area was a single room off the set, uniform for principals and background alike (no worries for me there). 2nd Asst. director Jason Slaughter provided me with my contract paperwork which I was able to fill out efficiently and unhurried
The massive McCrafty's craft services layout almost rivaled the principal-only craft services at my first commercial principal work, though in this case crafty was available to all, not just the principals. Just before lunch I noticed the soda cooler was gone, and was informed it was brought over to where catering would be serving lunch. I pointed out this was the very first time craft had even considered such considerate movie, generally letting cast and crew eat at catering and have to use catering's lemonade. Instead of having to obtain a soda as lunch was call; soda was available with the 1pm lunch (lunch for the 11am calltime folk was 1:30pm on paper, but we pretty much all ate together). The lunch provided by Alex's Gourmet was fantastic: baby BBQ ribs so perfect the meat all but melted in the mouth; they had some excellent mac and cheese that clearly wasn't made from a box.
The commercial was shot in two segments, as we anticipated. The non-AT&T group had calltimes from 6am-7am, with some background at 7:30am. The AT&T group had 11am calltimes; with a few gym background at 11:30am. The non-AT&T group on the treadmill were all SAG and apart from non-AT&T Hero Yeni Alvarez. the ten people behind her were all SAG with the stunt contract as they all were to fall off. It was amusing to learn that SAG Rep Melissa appeared quite concerned with the stunt and the safety of the actors, none of whom had any problem with doing the stunt.
My group was correct in our prediction our segment would not be filmed until after lunch. (Unaware he was a bit premature), 2nd AD Jason sent down to the wardrobe trailer in the parking lot myself and Mercedes Colon (playing an Executive). While "chef" David Basila was already there (we joked that based on his hat, David was actually a Baker, just as Ali seemed more befitting the character "Girl" as opposed to "Woman"), the wardrobe ladies (Lynette Meyer, Brenda Ware and Robin Prather), told Mercedes and I that our outfits were upstairs: they actually were awaiting for background people to come down. Jason hadn't mistaken us as background, he just hadn't been notified who wardrobe expected to come down. When our segment began, it was obvious that while the non-AT&T group were all SAG, with our group from the second row (right behind David, Mercedes and I), were all [featured] background. Ali and Mickey were both in the non-AT&T group, along with Calvin, and as a Skateboard Kid, Noel Howard, and James Logan as a Mechanic. Skateboard Kid Noel looked quite familiar to me, and after a few moments we realized we'd "worked" the same day on Lords of Dogtown, even though it was the day in which those of us cast ended up sitting in holding all the live long day, never once used (the wardrobe ladies distressing every square centimeter of my homeless outfit notwithstanding, to the point that to clean it I had to use a special high-grade caustic cleaner [I mention this all here as, when I worked Lords of Dogtown, as I was used, I never really did up a report on it]...).
Noel, Ali and Mickey conveyed how during their numerous takes of falling both off the treadmill and onto each other, et al, there was no shortage of bumps and bruises and a few actual cuts, all of which the lot of us had anticipated would all but have to happen no matter how carefully it was handled. The non-AT&T group was finished about maybe an hour after lunch.
Our group's AT&T Hero was the enthusiastic Stephanie Arellano, who (with a strong resemblance thereof), easily could play daughter or very younger sister to Salma Hayek. SAG principals David, Mercedes and I were placed directly behind Stephanie; behind us were the seven SAG Featured Background. Initially my character was BBQ Man: I was given a large spatula and tongs, but this was considered probably unsafe so they were switched out with a long attachment for a garden hose with various settings. Comically enough, considering its silver colour metal shaft and black nozzle with a rounded end, I really looked forward to holding it as some could easily see my construing it as a Dalek utility arm, but before cameras rolled, it was also switched out, this time finally for a simple newspaper, and so BBQ/Newspaper Man I became and remained. At the fitting they went through varius outfits for me. The one with which they began at the shoot was the blue Hawaiian shirt with pink flamingos under a "wife-beater" shirt. This got switched out with an off-white/cream shirt, also remaining open to the "wife-beater" undershirt.
From über content, director Chris Hooper directed we four, while 1st Asst. Director Phil Elins relayed relevant instructions to the background performers. I could not help but find this amusing, as at first, Chris conveyed to we three treadmill principals his wishes, strongly emphasizing his "hope" that the background would "magically follow" our actions/example. The main director is not actually allowed to direct background action: this is always the purview of ADs. In this case, Phil Elins reiterated to the treadmill background Chris's directions to us.
On and off we filmed our scene from about maybe 1:30pm to just before our 8pm wrap.
The casting notice initially implied the spot could air on the Internet, but based on results (no mention of Internet airing within our contract, and no separate Internet contract, as was done with the Pedigree commercial), so much for that additional payment. (If it does turn up online, I will embed the video here for viewing, as well as notify SAG it's airing without paying us...) As it is, as we filmed two separate versions of the spot, one with the hero-girls in Spanish and one in English with the full-one same casts, we are being paid for each spot, then residuals each time they air (the Spanish version will air nationally, the English version will air as a regional spot, puzzlingly enough airing only in Phoenix [Arizona]...).
To avoid the ten A-List friends and family appearing simultaneously, after filming us flat-on profile they set up a green-screen and filmed the farthest column first (David and the background performers behind him), then the middle column (Mercedes and her backgrounders), then my column and background performers.
The last background performer in my line was done up as an Executive, but he seemed to have difficulties performing in the directed action of how to convey the sudden-appearance on the treadmill. While the other columns were being filmed, the background performer in front of him, Robin, demonstrated how he could do it safely, but based on results he felt awkward and self-conscious. Amusingly, the crew figured out how to handle him. Each actor on "the" treadmill actually was on a separate treadmill set so closely together it appears to be a single line. Two in the center actually had to share one, but were able to do so safely. As the guy at the end of my column had his own treadmill, and as each was controlled separately, they suddenly lunged his treadmill to an extent he all but had his feet yanked out from under him, forcing him to reflect the exact stumble'y look that was needed... The rest of us were far more impressed (and amused) by this strategy than was he.
The camera angle was changed to straight-on and Stephanie again did her lines in Spanish and in English, as we continued our same actions for each version. The group behind Stephanie was literally finished by about 7:15 or so, as a few of Stephanie's close-up were handled. It became clear everything was done and we were wrapped and signed out at 8pm, having us signed out precisely at eight hours.
Chris Hooper posed for a photo with me, and I asked if he had also worked on the McDonalds commercial/s which über content had filmed two Aprils previous, which he did, and he was amused to realize I'd had played the lead role in one of them.
Some photos were taken with Mercedes and David, the latter of whom lived in Los Feliz and was gracious enough to drop me off at Hollywood and Western from which I could take the Red Line back to the Valley.
Probably around the end of October I will drop a line to über content inquiring after the protocols with which to procure a copy on DVD of both finished spots (considering it's not just an English version dubbed into Spanish: each version will be just noticeably different).

Thursday September 03, 2009
I awoke and was brutally reminded at how one's body typically reacts to considerable strenuous work-out/s the day before. Were I still taking Matol Km (e.g., throughout the day of the shoot), I would have been taking a tablespoon's worth maybe once an hour, and the next day suffer no such pain as experienced on awakening. Ironically my legs weren't so much at issue, considering of late my doing a "shredding" workout via Jillian Michaels's 30-Day Shred DVD. My issue was my neck and shoulders which were as tight as cables. The painful effect wore off as the day wore on, but it was an extremely unpleasant morning...

Saturday September 12, 2009
Behind the Scenes photos
I finally finished off the roll of my then-current one-time-use camera, and got developed the behind-the-scenes photos of the AT&T commercial/s...

Click on any thumbnail for the full size photo...
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Calvin Dean in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial'' Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''

Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
With Mickey Jury and Ali Cobrin,
the three of us from the same callback.
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
Wearing my initial outfit,
along with fellow principals
Mercedes Colon and
David Basila.
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
In my final, approved outfit
with David and Mercedes
(the newspaper is my prop).
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
With fellow principals
Mercedes Colon, commercials'
co-lead Stephanie Arellano,
and David Basila.
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
The impressive craft services
spread [w/Mercedes and
co-lead Yeni Alvarez].
Geoffrey Gould in ''AT&A ''Family Plan'' commercial''
With commercials' director Chris Hooper.

Sunday September 27, 2009
Still waiting...
On Facebook, Calvin notified me he'd already received his stunt-fee check; checking my rental box for my session fee (private-sector compensation for labour), I did find yet another compensation for labour payment (e.g., residuals payment) for my mid-2003 Day Player gig for The Practice.

Monday October 19, 2009
Video posted
I did receive my paycheck/s for my compensation for labour on the two spots, which helped out considerably with my bills.
Calvin J. Dean received a copy of the AT&T commercial, which he posted on his Facebook profile, and acquired from me my email, to which he might be sending along a copy. He did not post the Spanish version, so I was unsure as to whether that had been provided as well.

AT&T commercial (English, regional version)

Sunday July 21, 2013
Return of the Treadmill?
Calvin conveyed that the previous Wednesday, his cousin in Emonton, Canada reported having seen the AT&T commercial airing on cable there!
Not surprisingly, this was news to us.
Just as Calvin was doing, I quickly emailed my agent to notify that the spot was airing again four years later. Not bad as a) new residuals, b) new Session Fee/s and/or Holding Fee/s, c) we don't know how long it's been airing there, and d) financially it couldn't come at a better time.

Monday July 22, 2013
Questions will be asked
My agent was predictably as surprised as I with such out-of-the-blue news. She clarified that, being "just" Canada, it's not technically an "international" spot, which wasn't all that surprising. She still has the information from the spot and as the same woman at the ad agency is still there, there shouldn't be much miscommunication involved (as opposed to Someone New there, who can plausibly deny stuff).

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