Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Takes the Biscuit

Today, I worked on my first commercial. It was a TV advertisement for a magazine. I am excited about it for two reasons. First, it pays better than the film work I have been doing. About three times as much, so today was the best single day's pay I have ever had. Second, I should be seen in this commercial, given that there are only six of us in the scene, and it will be shown repeatedly, thus maximizing my public exposure.
I arrived early, which is good for me. As I was sitting waiting, a gorgeous actress walked in. She had a beautiful, full head of auburn hair, flowing down over her shoulders. Wearing a business suit, she also had a sizzling hot figure. I later learned her name is Carla and she's a TV presenter on Sky Channel 634. She's also a former dancer, which would explain the figure. For my sins, I got to sit next to her for the entire shoot. What's also impressive about Carla is that she's over thirty, but still looks gorgeous. That's one of the nice things about working in TV and films, you get to work with some stunningly beautiful women, sometimes.
The premise of the ad is that Carla and I, plus four others, are sitting around a table in a meeting room. We are all dressed like lawyers. At the head of the table is an empty chair. It's empty because the boss is not there. Instead of being in the meeting, he's off reading this magazine we are promoting. He can't put it down. We're all bored waiting and doing various things to pass the time. One woman is texting on her mobile phone. Another woman is doing a crossword puzzle, while a male colleague sits next to her, trying to chat her up. Carla is doodling on a pad. Originally, I was supposed to be rolling a biscuit (cookie for American readers) back and forth, across the table with a male colleague, opposite. After a couple of rehearsals, the director decided that instead, my colleague would be sleeping with his head on his hands. That left me and the biscuit. He asked me to play with it in some way. I decided to spin it, on edge, like a top, on the table. The director liked that idea and decided to go with it. Thus began the great biscuit challenge.
The director decided he wanted to end our shot on my spinning biscuit. The problem was to work it so the camera finished tracking back just as I spun the biscuit, but have all the action fit within the time allotted for this part of the commercial. We were shooting for a 30 second commercial and our scene was supposed to take 7 seconds. Coordinating the camera tracking, my spinning, and the 7 seconds, became very difficult. We did take after take. I finally lost count when we hit 40 and that's not counting the numerous rehearsals we did. Little bits and pieces of the scene kept being adjusted and re-adjusted. We had a female cinematographer, which was a first for me. The whole crew were great and a joy to work with. They got us water and fed us breakfast. When we finally wrapped, around 1PM, I was being teased about being typecast, forever more, as a biscuit spinner. Given that my spinning biscuit became such a central part of the scene, I feel fairly confident I will be seen in this commercial. I am looking forward to when I finally see it on TV.
Between takes, I spoke with Carla as much as possible. When I asked her where she lived, I thought she said "northward." So I guessed Honslow. To this, she replied, "northward," or so I thought. I tried Harrow, even Luton. Still, every time she would say, "northward," in an ever more exasperated voice. Then I figured out that she wasn't saying "northward," but "Northwood." I found that funny. Carla looked so good, I thought she should be doing bigger time stuff than this. I pictured her as a leading lady in some film. When I asked her if she wanted to do bigger acting projects, in the future, she replied in the negative. "I'm a better TV presenter than I am an actress," she explained. She just does the acting on the side, on her days off from TV presenting. In any case, she made my day. In what other line of work can you spend a day playing with biscuits and chatting to a gorgeous lady, and get paid for it?

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