Thursday, February 12, 1999
Taft Hartley'd, et al
The ice was truly broken with my work on the Frito-Lays/Star Wars
tie-in commercial spot shot down in San Pedro.
The audition was a couple of weeks earlier, and those auditioning were all told by our agents to be Trekkies: "to go all out!"
Once at the audition we were all startled to learn it was to be audience members of the new Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which of course has nothing to do with Star Trek.
The girl handling the casting breakdown apparently didn't understand the genres of fantasy and science fiction...
I asked the woman running the audition that if called back, should we dress "more Star Wars'ian..." which she affirmed.
At the callback, I went "Corrilian:" wearing a white shirt with black leather vest and a low slung holstered Lazer Tag pistol
(I use quotes as it's become common abeit inaccurate mythos that Han Solo is Corrilian, when in fact, his actual line in the Mos Eisley bar refers not to himself but regarding his ship being able to outrun Imperial starships: "Not the local bulk cruisers, I'm talkin' the big Corrilian ships now..."
Solo refers to the Imperial Cruisers that are Corrilian-built
[or rather, Corrilian class)]
Our spot was of theatre goers reacting to an annoying Star Wars: The Phantom Menace audience member flipping out finding a winning game piece in his Lays chips bag.
When the camera panned to me, my reaction included my pulling my blaster as though contemplating whether to use it.
I didn't aim it, I just held up in a sort of James Bond pose, while silently snarling at the noisy miscreant.
With a unsuccessfully stifled laugh, the director couldn't help saying, "The guy's pullin'his piece...!"
My concern that the move may've been too Over The Top ended when Jennifer called to tell me I was being Taft Hartley'd: I was booked for the SAG spot!
Steven, whom I met at both auditions, was also cast, and he was with Circle Talent as well.
At the costume fitting, I wore the Han Solo type outfit, but the director indicated there was to be "no old Star Wars reference" type stuff.
This didn't stop other talent being dressed in Jedi type robes, or Steve and I being put into tie-die t-shirts sporting C-3PO and R2-D2.
We wore the same shirt; I wore the front
and he wore the reverse
With the shoot all the way down in San Pedro, I left way early to avoid traffic and arrived at 6:00am for my 7:00am call.
"So used" to doing "background work," I all but went to the wrong holding area, and was sent to the right one.
I was directed to the Talent Area where I came across Steve and after we had our breakfast, we were led to Our Trailer with Our Own Room/s.
After a short time we were taken to hair and make-up.
At about 8am we were brought to set and after a friendly lighting designer spent about a half hour properly lighting us, more "regular" background talent filled in seats behind us.
Steve sat to my right.
All but without warning
(and certainly without any direction or rehearsal)
the director called "Action!"
He did not cue us as to When To React, or what he wanted us to do.
Finally we got it straight and did as we were finally told.
At one point the director asked if we/I had my ray gun.
"No," I simply said politely, not reminding him he had strongly vetoed the blaster himself at the costume fitting.
Had I even suspected this I'd have had my Lazer Tag gun in the trunk of my car.
We had to use our empty hands as guns and pretended to be shooting at the guy.
I thought it a bit lame, but later a woman named Beth Rogers
(a friend of our agent)
told us we were very funny.
We were brought back to our trailers: the entire time we were being filmed could not have been ten or fifteen minutes total.
I relaxed for about an hour, then asked as to the location of Craft Services.
I was lead along and nearly reached the small card table on which was good, then the AD or PA said, "No no; you're a principal: your craft services is over here..."
It was a massive spread across two or three long tables.
Steve came to it as well, and as we noted the obvious distinctions between background and principal we couldn't help but chuckle we could get used to such treatment...
Understandably, Steve and I hoped to make the final cut, considering we were told this spot was most likely going international, not just national as we were originally told.
To our amazement we were released at 10:30am!
We got copies of our contracts and call sheet and released.
I was able to have lunch with my then-girlfriend Kerian before her trip to Arizona for the weekend.
As it turned out, Steve and I were omitted from the final aired version... so I received from the spot no residuals.
private-sector compensation for labour,
however, was more than I expected: despite footage of me not being used, they did make the spot into both national and an international versions... I received full compensation for labour for spots...
Plus it did make me SAG eligible, but I was still without enough money with which to join.
Had I more foresight, I should have kept aside $25-$50 a week until reaching the then $1242 fee with which to join; then when the
spot booked me
(or even once I was On Avail for it),
I could have scooted right over and joined SAG and had the full AmeriTech session-fee check to myself.