So, what does it take to produce a television commercial? Apparently two days, a crew of about 15 and me putting myself in harms way… and loosing. And that, is how the story begins.
It was that time of year again. Time to create the latest in the Access (one of our favorite clients) series of television commercials. The scripts had been written, the locations and actors approved (much to Darren’s dismay seeing as how he had to be in them again!) and we were ready to go. So, Darren and I packed our bags and headed on down to the “Keepin’ it Weird” capital of Texas – Austin.
As we descended into the Austin airport we didn’t know what to expect. The day started out with a bang with Big D discovering that the rental car lady had the same birthday as he did (she was super excited and called her manager who consequently had the same birthday as well…we chatted on speaker phone – awkward!) Upon arriving at our destination our day got even better. We had chosen Action Figure to be our production/post house and a better choice could not have been made. We were treated like commercial royalty (see inset couch pics below and name on the marquis), the studio was totally legit (see inset of mammoth Cyc) and the crew… well, they were ridiculously talented.
We had a grueling schedule, shooting three different television spots over the course of two days with multiple locations and actors. We commend our Producer, Meredith, for her skills in herding all of us from place to place and mostly on schedule. So all of this is sounding quite like a walk in the park, and for the most part it was… enter accident prone me.
One of the spots has two women working out at the gym. The camera focuses in on one lady who is running and checking her banking account on her mobile phone. I was not this lady, but rather the filler woman beside her. My task was simple, run on a treadmill. That’s it, no words, no special movement, just put one foot in front of the other… yeah, that didn’t quite happen.
I actually managed to make it through the whole commercial sequence, it was the dismount that got me. In order to exit the scene I had to step over the other woman’s moving treadmill. Well, I glanced at something at the last minute whilst mid stride and managed to step down with my right foot on the moving part of the treadmill. My foot went flying out from underneath me and the next thing I know I was fully launched in the air… and as most of you know, what comes up, must come down… and come down I did, right on my exposed right hip and knee. I scrambled to get up before anyone noticed the almost 6 ft blonde woman lying on the ground, but the loud thud I made didn’t allow me to do that. With much protestation I declared that I was fine and that it didn’t hurt (man that was a lie). I picked my ego up off the ground dusted it off and tried to move on to the next shot… albeit with a limp. Consequently, the bruise on my right hip is grotesque and resembles a great tie-dye Tee… The pic below doesn’t quite do it justice, but you get the gist.
That night we had a fantastic meal with Ariel (the director) and Meredith. We chatted about the shoot, movies and of course food. A lovely evening to end a great day of filming. But, it had to come to a close because we all needed to do it again the next day.
Day two was all about Darren. And, while the big man won’t tell you this (because he is actually very humble) he is a dang good actor and the camera loves him. So, for twelve consecutive hours he put up with me and the director stopping him and “taking it from the top.” A good sport to say the least. Fortunately, Darren is also less accident prone than I, and managed to stay upright the whole day!
As the day came to a close I think everyone on the set was really excited about what had been accomplished. Darren and I raced to the Austin Airport where, once through security (Darren takes longer to get reassembled than most girls…), we sat down to enjoy a BBQ meal from the famous Salt Lick BBQ. Nothing like a cold one and some BBQ to put a period on the day.
The spots are now in post and we can’t wait to see the final outcome. What did we learn from this experience? We are willing to do just about anything for a client – create, direct, act and even take a hit.