I managed to find the tiny gravel fire-road in the middle of the woods where we were going to be filming the first shots for a commercial I’d been cast in. How the location scouts had found these roads to begin with, I had no idea. I drove down and found the crew setting up. Pulled up, said hello to the director, and he said, “Hi. Uh, so… you afraid of heights?”
This was a concerning start to the shoot.
This commercial basically involved me walking through foggy, wet forest in a very expensive suit, and the first thing we were filming was the big final shot – originally it was going to be a shot by a sunny lake, but they decided at the last minute to have an aerial shot of me standing on the edge of a cliff. A cliff with wet rocks. With me in slick-soled dress shoes.
The thing is, I’ve worked with this film company many times. They’re great. But they also film a lot of outdoor/extreme sport stuff, and so there’s a mentality of adventure that doesn’t usually involve dress shoes. For example, I bumped in to one of the managers recently, and she told me about how they’d just gotten back from Alaska, filming guys jumping out of helicopters in wing-suits. When someone tells you that, all you can do is dread them asking what you’ve been up to (“Oh, uh, I went to REI and thought they didn’t have the jacket I wanted, but then saw it on the clearance rack and there was only one left and it was my size. So… you know… that was pretty exciting, too…”)
The suit I’d be wearing had been custom tailored to me, and one of the first questions I asked when I got hired was, “So, does that mean I get to keep the suit?” They said they’d ask the client. I was told, though, that I definitely wouldn’t be allowed to keep the very expensive, hand-crafted Italian shoes.
Which was fine, because after two days of tromping through the wet forest, they wouldn’t be so slick looking any more. Weird, right? It’s almost like they didn’t even factor off-trail hiking in the Pacific Northwest when they made these fancy dress shoes.
We did a couple trial runs, and I didn’t fall to my death, so proceeded. If you watch the ad at the end of the post, it really won’t look like it took hours and hours and hours to shoot the ending. That’s the thing about film shoots, though – it generally looks like something you can crank out. It also probably doesn’t look like I’m freezing (I was trying to be a Team Player, and Tough It Out which led to me Shivering Uncontrollably later in the car).
The second day we had a larger crew, and I had a handler. Having someone who’s job it is to meet your every need, including hold your umbrella and touch up your hair every few minutes makes you simultaneously feel very important, and like a pathetic, delicate little flower.
I met the clients and we all chatted for a bit. I waited at least 45 seconds before casually dropping, “So. The suit. Tailored to me. Only me. Can I keep it?” They said that seemed like a possibility. They’d have to discuss it.
So we did shot after shot after shot with me walking along, flanked by a couple burly guys blasting me with fog machines.
There were several locations, down tiny fire-roads – some of which were so narrow and so bumpy we went down without entirely being sure of how we’d get out.
Finally, closing in on done, we were losing daylight, and using the last fumes of power to generate fake light.
We got done, shared high-fives all around, and I went to change. One of the owners came and said, “So, they’ve decided they want to keep the suit.”
“Why? For who?”
“They don’t know. They said maybe it’ll fit someone at their office.”
“Really? They have someone my exact height and proportions? Who also won’t care that I’ve been hiking in this thing for two days?”
I don’t even wear suits that often, but it’s the principle of the thing. You understand.
So that was a downer way to end, but we got the thing shot, I didn’t fall off a cliff (sorry if the title was misleading and you were hoping for some cliff-plummeting excitement), and so far haven’t been hacking up fake fog. A successful job.
Now I just need to learn how to fly in a wingsuit.
Here’s the ad. It’s worth getting through the financial planning stuff to get to the cool final shot. Also, I suppose, you could do financial planning and make money. But more importantly is the cool final shot.