Get your own
 diary at! contact me older entries newest entry

10:24 am - Tues 2/03/04
The Commercial Death March

The Commercial Death March

Well, the shoot for Hyundai was yesterday (At Cruisers Car Wash, in Northridge. It's the same area where I shot the student film I did early last year).

Honestly? It pretty much sucked--Everybody was courteous, the director was cool, craft services were nice, the costumer was cute and flirty (And no, I wasn't taking it seriously)...and the whole thing was a grueling commercial death-march that went on and on... for over sixteen hours.

I tried to do a little "Commercial Shoot Journal", but didn't get as much down as I did last time:

Monday 2/2/04

(7:00 a.m)

A half-hour into my day on the Hyundai shoot, at Cruisers Car Wash in Northridge.

(Note: I was a little non-plussed when the A.D. was surprised to see me at 6:30. Apparently, he'd still thought call for the two "principals" was at 9:00)

(8:18 a.m.)

Just finished shooting a couple background scenes. Zeke, the other "principal" (He's the other "vacuum guy"), said he'd seen the storyboard for today's shoot, and he didn't think they could get through everything they wanted to do today.

If that turns out to be the case, The bad news is that I'd have to call out from work tomorrow (The good news? I'd have to call out from work tomorrow. And I'd make another $500 for the day).

(Filling out some forms...)

A bit of a wrinkle; They want me to sign an "exclusivity clause".

I had this conversation with JS when I booked the gig--He said they might want exclusivity, but since it was a non-union thing, we didn't have any obligation to honor that. And I think it's pretty ballsy of them to expect it; I'm not going to pass up an opportunity I could potentially live on for the next couple years--A union spot for Honda, for example--for one $2000 payday (Even I have enough math skills to know that doesn't make sense!).

(Note: I told the A.D. I wasn't going to sign it, because of the conversation I'd had with my agent. He said they needed it, and he'd have the producer come over to talk to me about it, but it never happened.)

(10:18 a.m.)

Zeke and I are sitting off to one side, while they do some shots we're not in.

I imagine things are moving at a breakneck pace, relatively speaking, but it's still a pretty tedious process--Almost four hours in now, and and we've done very little (Some background shots, and one shot of Zeke and I closing the rear door of the vehicle)--but I'm not complaining; once again, I find myself thinking of that actor, whoever he was, who said "I act for free; they pay me to wait around".

I've had about two cups of fluid today--half a cup of hot chocolate, a cup-and-a-half of coffee--and have had to pee three times already, so risks of dehydration notwithstanding, I think I'm going to have go beverage-free the rest of the day.

The shoot today--day two of a two-day project--is a lot more involved than I'd envisioned. I assumed they were shooting everything but Zeke and I on Friday, but Friday was just shots of the happy Hyundai owners at another location. Everything that needs to be done at the carwash (Various background/establishing shots) is being done today.

(Just made an important decision--Come lunchtime, I am having at least one dessert.)

Right now, they're shooting a shot of a trained squirrel jumping into the vehicle (This sets up a later scene, where the aforementioned squirrel gets sucked into my vacuum hose).

(Zeke agrees with something I just said--It will be a nice milestone when we get a gig where we have our own trailer.)

The shooting schedule has us going to 6:30, but the last hour-and-a-half, I think, is just devoted to close shots of weird stuff we found in the car, so I don't know if they'll need us for that or not.

(11:15 a.m.)

Just did a quick shot with a live squirrel (They have a "mechanical" squirrel for the "gag" where I pull him out from my vacuum cleaner hose).

Kind of funny--the "squirrel wrangler" (First time I've used that phrase in a sentence!) said "Don't worry if he jumps on you--we'll get him off."

The things one does for art...

I somehow assumed, since this is all being shot at one location, that we'd be shooting in sequence. Live and learn...

(3:15 p.m.)

Lunch at 12:30--Teriyaki Tri-Tips, roasted potatoes, wild rice, salad, strawberries (with a little whipped cream), and some sort of apple dessert.

A high point of the day (Though I was embarrassed about my "breach of etiquette"--I was about the sixth or seventh person in line, when the A.D. informed me the crew goes first, since they'd been there longer. Color my face red...).

The afternoon's pretty much been Zeke and me (Zeke, who's 25 years old today, is a good guy. I've been enjoying working with him).

Feeling a little anxiety, wondering how I'd actually act under these jerky, constantly stopping and starting, out-of-sequence circumstances. How do people put actual performances together...?

(Almost 9:00)

This is becoming some sort of commercial "dance of death"...

Still here. Still with scenes to shoot.

And did I mention it's been raining (Since about 4:30 or so)?

This has been quite the "reality check"--the other things I've done so far have certainly had their dull spots, but were pretty easy to do, when the time came to do something.

But this one has been tough.

Really tough.


I'd heard there was rain in the forecast before I left for the shoot, and wondered idly if it would be an issue, but didn't worry too much about it (I hadn't heard exactly where the rain was being forecast, and the Greater L.A. area is pretty huge).

But it was overcast and cold all day long, and of course, when it did start to rain, it was a huge issue--Suddenly, everything was exponentially more difficult; Extra lights, extra screens, different lenses, etc and so forth, were suddenly required to make a dark, rainy background look like the sunniest of sunny days.

And as Zeke wisely observed early on, they had way too much on their plate (But we were both naive, or just ignorant, in assuming they'd wrap things things up, wherever we stood, at 6:30. Apparently, the cost of getting the space for another day--assuming they could--trumped the overtime they were having to pay the crew. So we were going to be there for the long haul. And let me tell you, it was so long I was considering the wisdom of my career choice more than once!).

And I think there was tension between the director (Justin, who I liked a great deal), the ad agency people, the D.P. (Director of Photography), and maybe a number of other folks.

Speaking of the D.P. (Who was a nice enough guy), the director actually apologized to me at one point, in private, because of that particular conflict (The issue? Instead of blocking me to do an action, then figuring out how to best light that action, the director had allowed the D.P. to light me however was easiest, which left me having to twist and contort myself in order to do what I was supposed to be doing and be in the light at the same time. The director said he knew better, but that he'd just let himself be rushed.

And I'm sure I was something of a problem too. I was certainly willing, and I tried to remain positive (Which became extremely challenging around hour 12 or so), but in the midst of fatigue, technical demands, and mounting tension (Nobody seemed to be mad at me, but you could still feel a sense of mounting pressure), I lost any sense of giving a performance.

I hope it went all right, various snafus notwithstanding (The mechanical squirrel--which had to be rigged through a wire that snaked through my jumpsuit--worked a couple times, then died).

And you know the real bitch of it all? I found out yesterday that, while the spot is going to be national, you're not going to see it unless you're a big fan of Telemundo; It's only airing on Spanish-language stations (And if you're wondering, no, I haven't picked up Spanish in my time out here; there's no dialogue in the spot).

One of the things I thought yesterday, and not for the first time, is that it's fun to act on stage, while thus far with commercials and video, it's fun to have done it, but it's not really much fun to do it.

Not yet, anyway.

But now that the Hyundai shoot is done, all that remains is to wait for that nice paycheck, and hope the next commercial gig won't be quite as painful.


previous - next

2 comments so far
about me - read my profile! read other Diar
yLand diaries! recommend my diary to a friend! Get
 your own fun + free diary at!