Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

. . . It's off to work I go! Well, actually, it was off to work I went this morning, leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. But first, a little back story.

Two weeks ago when I was musing about how busy the middle of May had become, I alluded to "other events I may talk about later." Part of that reluctance was superstition; I had a couple of commercial auditions and was afraid that if The Ancient One mentioned them at that time it might jeopardize chances of getting cast.

Well, this morning I participated in a commercial shoot for the First National Bank of Omaha. And, what is more significant, I was not an extra! I was a college Dean in a commencement scene. It was my first role as a SAG principal actor since I became a member of SAG last December. And it was both fun and different. But first things first!

When called for the initial audition, The Ancient One decided that he was going to book this job. It was not an inflated ego at work. Having retired from a career of more than 40 years in higher education, I figured that I knew something about playing a Dean. Besides, when I entered the audition studio, I was asked to improvise a commencement address. I was ready. After all, last November I was the college President in a play which opened with my delivering a . . . commencement address! This just had to be my job! A week later, I was called back for a 2nd audition at which the Director was present. I felt that it went pretty well.

Then, I was offered the job last week, went in for a wardrobes session and was scheduled to shoot today. I had a 7:30 a.m. call on location at the University of Southern California. That was wonderful. USC is a relatively easy ride from our house, compared to most of the studios and locations used in L.A. As I walked into the "base camp" area from the parking lot, a young man greeted me by name! He was the 2nd 2nd Assistant director [that is not a typo] who apparently was assigned to spot me and other principals as we approached. He immediately showed me where I could get breakfast and then led me to me to my own dressing room in what is called a "Star Wagon," a fancy name for a specialized trailer.

Why, they even had my name on the door!

I got into my academic regalia! That was a bit emotional since I was wearing my own cap, gown and hood (which was better for me than what wardrobe had to offer) that had been given to me as a gift from my mother when I received my Ph.D. 43 years ago. Mom never could have imagined that she had given me something that would be used in plays and commercials as well as worn at commencements and convocations throughout my career.

While the facial expression is not wonderful, this is how The Ancient One looked just before he was driven to the set.

It was a little strange as I climbed into the van while watching the extras leave to walk to the location being used on the campus. I am not sure how to describe what I was feeling as I received special treatment because I was a "principal performer" on this shoot and not an "extra."

My part of the shoot went fairly quickly. I stood on the stage, passed out diplomas and congratulated a handful of the "graduates." We did this over and over again; somewhere between 10 and 20 times. After a few takes, the camera angles would be changed and we would do it all over again. And that process was repeated several times. That's all I had to do! I was not asked to deliver any phrases from a commencement address as was the case in the auditions. I just handed out diplomas, smiles and handshakes.

We finished that part of the shoot, took a break, and . . . I was wrapped! I was done with my "acting" job for the day. I was driven back to the base camp, signed the paperwork, and was back home by 11:00 a.m.

It wasn't very hard! I got the job because, like with most commercial casting, I had the look the director was looking for when he saw me at the callback audition. And I met a lot of nice people and had a great time. And, yes, the paycheck will be at union rates.

But, most importantly, this septuagenarian had his first principal role in a SAG commercial production. I feel like I am glowing inside and out!


Rex Hoss said...

Wow Leon, Let me be the first (on your blog) to congratulate you on your FIRST SAG Commercial job! That's wonderful. I'm very proud of you. I know you did a great job and I also can relate to your emotional high from getting the work. It so truly wonderful, no matter what stage were at in this profession, to get recognized and rewarded. Much Love an Kudos! Rex

Betty said...

Congratulations, Leon! How exciting. Next, we'll all be asking you for your autograph.

Eric Valentine said...

That was so wonderful Leon, pretty soon you'll be in a sitcom and I will have to go back to watching TV!! Well done my friend.. :)

Leon said...

Thanks REX. It was quite an experience. Now I have to find someone in Omaha who can record it for me when it plays. :~D I'll look forward to seeing you in the ausience at Carlson Park. Wish you had auditioned.

Leon said...

Aw shucks, Betty. It was fun and really came about more because of stubborn perseverance than talent.

Leon said...

Thanks Eric. From your mouth to God's ears my friend! :~D