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9:24 am - Fri 11/12/04
Hangin' With \"Jack\"

Hangin' With "Jack"

Thurs 11/11/04 (10:40 p.m.)

Had the Jack-In-The-Box shoot earlier today...

I really could have walked to the shoot; crew parking was at a church down on Wilshire & Plymouth, but "base camp", on 3rd street, turned out to be even closer to my apartment (When the shoot was over, at 4:30, I was changed, signed out, and home within 15 minutes).

At the suggestion of someone on the crew, I rode my bike from the church parking lot to "base camp", locking it to one of the trailer hitches there (I'd given myself so much time to get there–I left the house at 10 after 7–that I was still 15 minutes early for my 8:00 a.m. call time).

I went in wondering how this shoot might be different from the non-union shoots I've done.

And the clearest difference I noticed was that there were trailers set up with dressing rooms for all the actors (I don't want to make too much of this–the rooms were each about the size of a walk-in closet, and sparsely appointed–but it still struck me as a big step up from having to change in the makeup trailer bathroom, and a happy harbinger of "better things to come".

When I went in, my wardrobe (I still want to call it my "costume") was laid out for me, along with my SAG contract and W-2 form.

(Fun note: Since I was wearing my own shoes, pants, and belt, I made a little extra for the day. Another nice union benefit.)

I'm looking through what I wrote during the day...

(9:00 a.m.)

I'm in wardrobe–shoes and pants from home, along with a green plaid shirt and blue windbreaker from the fitting on Tuesday.

Like on the Time-Warner shoot, I have on minimal makeup (Actually, they didn't do any makeup–Just a little mousse in my hair, to keep it in place).

(Once I was told I was going to be the "Father" and not the "Minister", I thought it might be, in part, because of the dark circles under my eyes; I've obviously logged many a sleepless night worrying about "My Son The Salad Dodger".)

(9:41 a.m)

(Sitting in folding chairs with some of the other actors, just outside the location, a private home at 3rd and Van Ness.)

Earlier, I talked at some length with Brogan, who's playing "The Poker Buddy".
Brogan's four years younger than I am, but has been doing this for some 15 years. Interesting to get the perspective of someone who's been out here that long.

Like I imagine all actors out here have to do–And I've certainly wrestled with it myself–Brogan has had to figure out how not to make himself crazy over auditions (And the resulting, near-constant rejection). And a lot of what he had to say echoed both what Brian K. used to tell me at the bookstore, and what I've come to realize in my own experience out here–You basically have to do the auditions, then immediately let them go. Otherwise, you just make yourself miserable.

(10:37 a.m.)

"Jack" just introduced himself to our little group ("Jack" is Jacques Tate, a middle-aged actor who wasn't the first "Jack"–there have been some 300 Jack-In-The-Box commercials at this point–but who's been doing it for quite awhile now. I guess he specializes in voiceovers and costume character/clown stuff. A funny, personable guy–He has the aura of someone who's used to getting a lot of attention.)

This is actually going to be a "regional" commercial, and not a "national" (I'd suspected that would be the case, since I don't think I've ever seen Jack-In-The-Box commercials in prime time), but it should still be a pretty good haul–"Jack" said it might "pay our rent for the year", which sounds pretty damned good from where I'm sitting.

Apparently, where the deal becomes really sweet is if the spot is "re-negotiated", which I guess means that it has its initial run, then they decide to either extend it, or else run it again at some later date. Kind a commercial "gift that keeps on giving".

All I know is that they run the hell out of these spots here in L.A., so I ought to do okay with it.

(12:50 p.m.)

Shot my first stuff around noon.
It was interesting to see how "Jack" works: There was his "regular" head, then another head, with a big panel missing, for particular angles of shots (That head also worked on a swivel).

"Jack" also has a stand-in, which is understandable, cause the head, which weighs about 14 lbs, apparently doesn't really allow the actor to breathe, and gets hot and uncomfortable pretty quickly (Between shots, a crew person would take off the "hat" and fan "Jack" through the hole).

The crew was amused by the actors' reaction to "Jack"; it was a novelty to us, but of course, they were pretty used to him.

(2:30 p.m.)

Back from lunch–Carne Asada, spanish rice, Santa Fe corn, a couple different kind of salad, and two desserts (Pumpkin cheesecake-Yum!–and a "chocolate brownie sundae").

Interesting note: Dick Sittig, the director, is also the voice of "Jack" and apparently conceived the character. After some 300 commercials, I can't even imagine how much money he's made (It was a bit surreal, listening to "Jack's voice" tell "Jack's body" what to do).

I think at this point they've shot all the stuff facing PJ (aka "the salad dodger") and Kelly (aka "the wife"), and now they've turned the camera around and will be shooting "Jack" and the people taking part in the "intervention".

Still adjusting to the fact that a little "scene" like we're shooting today isn't just filmed as a scene, but as bunch of separate shots (I know–Exactly how dumb can I be?).

And that was pretty much all I was able to get.

The last shot of the day was a second angle on the "group hug", as "Gary" ("The Salad Dodger") faces up to his problem, and Jack sheds a tear of joy (As you can see in the picture).

We wrapped at 4:30 (I had thought it would probably not be a long day, and had agreed with one of the other actors when she predicted we'd wrap when we did).

As I rode home, I found myself thinking, quite sincerly, "the only way this could have been better is if there had been some acting involved...".
I'm not being facetious about that; as acting goes...well, there really wasn't much "acting" involved (Even less than I'd imagined). It's hard to imagine this leading to anything else, because I don't really do anything in the spot.

But I got paid serious bank to basically hang out on a set, chat with other actors, write in my journal, and enjoy a free lunch. And to me, that's a pretty good day.

(What will be perfect is when I get a union spot like the Time-Warner gig, which would marry my desire to get well-paid with actually getting to do some acting.)


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