Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Deja Vu "Commercial"

I received a phone call Monday evening that led to a booking to work on a commercial shoot yesterday. But the Casting Director (CD) who called was a little evasive about exactly what the commercial was about. Even the e-mail that came Tuesday evening was less than clear on exactly what was being advertised. So I googled the production company and discovered that they specialized in political commercials and many of their clients held a political viewpoint that was far different from my own. I was a little uncomfortable but son Seth reminded me that I was an actor and it was a paying job.

Then the proverbial light bulb went off. The company name sounded familiar. I looked back at all my bookings for 2007 and discovered that I had worked for them before. Last April, I posted the commercial on the Indian Gaming Compacts in which I appeared. Well, those compacts had passed through legislative process and are now on the February, 2008 ballot as referenda to be considered by California voters. At that point I felt a little better.

When I arrived at the crew parking site yesterday morning, people were still a little evasive. Finally, when we were on the van transporting us to the set, a mansion in East Pasadena, the CD confirmed that the commercial was for the Indian Gaming Compacts and revealed that the secretiveness was because the central figure in the commercial which we were about to shoot was none other than Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oh, and we were warned over and over during the day that we to take no pictures and to turn off our cell phones with cameras.

The shoot was a lot of fun. I even got a chance to see again 2 of the Morongo Indian representatives who I first met in the shoot earlier this year. And, in addition to my usual spot in the background, I was given a 2-word line (along with a bump in pay) that was shot separately from the gathering that was at the heart of the days proceedings. I might get a picture of my brief moment under the lights if the official still photographer actually does e-mail me one of the pictures he took as they were setting up "my scene."

So, if you live in California, when you are being inundated with political commercials in January, in one of those supporting the Indian Gaming Compacts, you just might catch a glimpse of The Ancient One dramatically uttering the words, "Senior Citizens." Well, maybe not really dramatically. . .but it was a line and I remembered it for all 3 takes they did of the scene.

Yesterday was a good day and I had had a chance to work with a number of old and new friends.

Added note (December 21, 2008): I reread what I had posted above and realized that I really didn't say anything about the Governor other than he was there. Actually, there was no great excitement on the set. He arrived mid-afternoon, came to the set where we had been positioned, delivered his lines over several takes, shook hands with a few of the people there and left. I am not one of those who is "star-struck" by him as are too many of the political folks who seem to gush when in his presence. My only surprise is that he appeared to be significantly shorter in stature than his appearances in film and TV would suggest. And I did notice that, in shooting his part of the commercial, they used camera angles shooting up toward him which will make him look taller than he is. In summary, there was nothing more special about his presence than there is with any other name star.


Cameron said...

WOW. What an interesting experience you had at the shoot!

It's fascinating to read about a group of workers (in your case, actors, TV production etc.) whose paths cross at various times at different gigs.

Same with musicians, of course.

Uttering just a few words in a script is not as easy as it may first seem, I bet. I could probably screw up two adjacent words!

Leon said...

Thanks for your comment Cameron. The "acting career" is what I've pursued actively since retiring a couple of years ago. I get enough work (mostly as an extra) to get me out so I can't mess up my wife's house. :-) Hopefully, I'll hit your site one of these days when you are online and see how that chat box works.