The Chocolate Lady

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pooper's first commercial, Part 1

Pooper slept all the way home. I had a screaming headache, was exhausted, but the high intensity of the L.A. freeways kept me alert. By the time we rolled into our driveway, it was nearly 8:30pm.

Our journey began at the crack of dawn, and we started with a quick stop to the neighborhood Starbucks for special treat for Pooper on his big day, a strawberry frappuccino. Actually, we selfishly went for me. Im not used to being on the road at 6am, and the coffee frap was needed to help wake me up.

The information from Pooper’s agent stated that we were to be in Alta Dena by 8am. For those out of the area, that is the NE portion of Los Angeles, and even on a Saturday morning, it took us 90 minutes to get there.

I was sort of confused, as we pulled into the parking area of the mausoleum. Our paperwork had directed us to this fancy cemetery, but Pooper’s scene was of kids swimming in a pool. This was a high-end part of town, but a swimming pool at a cemetery?

As we came up to the property, there were large trucks (wardrobe, props, etc.), security, some trailers…..I rolled down the window and the officer at the gate directed me to the parking area.

Immediately, Pooper began squealing, as he spotted it,,,,,,,,,,THE BUFFET

There were 2 catering trucks, and they were taking orders for omelets and the like. There was also a table set up with muffins, fresh sliced fruit, and other morning fare.

Pooper was in his glory, perusing the food table, even though he wasn’t hungry. I know it made him feel like a big shot.

After checking in, they gave us a number (“us” because, I was in this gig too), and took our pictures. We were told to sit and wait, that this location was a holding area, and that we would be transported to the actual filming site.

We sat and waited in the shade, trying to escape the heat that was already starting to simmer things. We are in the midst of a heat wave, 100+ temps, and the locale is in a warmer part of the southland, far from the beaches.

There were a few other kids waiting with their parents, and eventually we all sat around, introducing ourselves while the kids played. Pooper had a grand ole time taunting a fire ant with some other boys; I had fun meeting their moms and dads.

All in all, there were 6 of us adults, and I *think 8 or 9 kids.

Being new to this scene, I was interested to hear about the other children, to learn about what fun projects they had been in. I found that one family lives in Northern California, and flies down for auditions (about an hour by plane.) They had flown in that morning for this particular shoot. Two of the other families were from out of state, and had recently transplanted to L.A. to try and make a focused “go” at Hollywood. All of the families were friendly, kind, and their children very sweet. Andrew really hit it off with the other boys especially.

Around 9am, a couple of vans came by and took us to a private home a few blocks away. The whole street had been reconnoitered, with large trucks and cars lined up along the curb, porta-potties down near the corner, even the house next-door had been set up with tables and another catering truck and buffet (but that was for later, and not for us.)

We were taken to the backyard, and there were about 50 “crew members”, I met the medic, who made sure the kids had sunscreen, the teacher, who was sort of in charge of the kids, the hair guy, the make-up lady (although, I never saw anyone get make-up, and Elle is the only one that got her hair brushed), there were a few young gals doing wardrobe, going over what options we had brought for our kids (you are told to pack a few outfits) and also going through their own rack of kids clothes, the fire inspector, a variety of directing assistants and production assistants. People moving plants, adding props such as the lemonade on the table (which, naturally, Pooper wanted to drink…but it was just for show.)

The home was beautiful and the backyard was perfect. Lush gardens surrounded the brick patio, which led down a few steps to the pool and grassy area. The entire yard was private with a canopy of trees.

I sat up top with a few parents, chit chatting at the table while the kids played in the pool below. In reality, the bushes blocked my view of Pooper, so I could only hope that he was following the directions given.

Now, this is was all for a Public Service Announcement for a new initiative called, “Stand up 2 Cancer” I know very little about it. I do know that there are a ton of famous folks involved, and that there will be some sort of telethon or fundraisers, and that the many PSA’s will play nationwide, on TV and in theaters, I believe throughout the summer.

Each commercial has a celebrity. On this particular shoot, we had Elle Fanning, Dakota’s little sister. She was sort of quiet and didn’t really interact with anyone that I saw. She was down by the pool with the kids, but she was off to the side, dressed in clothes, sitting on the grass. The rest of the kids were in bathing suits, and either in or around the pool. Pooper initially sat on the side, dangling his feet, but eventually the director had him in the water, splashing around, and Pooper was thrilled.

We kept hearing the director referring to “Gabriella”….”When Gabriella stands….” “Gabriella this” “Gabriella that”…and all I could think of was the gal from High School Musical, and I thought, “WHOA! Pooper is gonna go nutso if that gal is here!” But, it turned out to be Gabriella Reese (professional volleyball player)…and the odd thing, she showed up, and then stood with the other bazillion crew members in the back, but I never actually saw her “in” our commercial. So, not sure if they changed their mind, or if she will be edited in, or whatever….shall see when it airs, I guess.

The commercial starts with the adults talking, kids playing in the pool, and then Elle stands up. We are all cued to slowly, curiously, notice that Elle is standing and then one by one we all stand up to, staring into the camera the entire time. The commercial ends with all of us standing, including the kids that are now on the sides of the pool, and we are all staring into the camera.

With the exception of a few breaks for water and fruit (Ill get to that), and some wardrobe changes on the kids, we just repeated this numerous times, for about 2 hours.

At one point, they passed around a tray of fruit for the kids. It was so hot, they didn’t want the kids to get dehydrated, and they told them to quickly grab a piece. I wandered down, and sure enough, I see Pooper asking an assistant if he could have a plate. Everyone else was just taking a piece, as the director was waiting.

Not my Pooper, he wanted to pile up a plate, and as he was directing the assistant to get him some cantaloupe, watermelon….I interrupted and told him to take one piece, quickly eat it, and get back in the pool. Geesh!

He actually did very well, paying attention, doing what was asked, but he was really enjoying the splashing around in the pool between takes. In fact, one of the other moms was kind enough to tell me (since I couldn’t see what Pooper was doing from my view) that she was concerned, as he kept trying to “ride” the GIGANTIC, practically life-sized, blow up, Shamu pool toy, and she was worried he would fall off and hit his head on the side of the pool.

I had to “pssst!” him and say, “Hey, this isn’t your birthday party, it’s a job, get off the toys and pay attention!”

**Gotta run…will write more later, our day in TV land is far from over……..


Grandma J said...

I can't wait to see the PSA in the theatres. I'm proud of Pooper knowing what the production assistance are there bring him fruit.

Carole said...

Wow, thanks for the blow by blow so far - I live in upstate NY far from the Hollywood scene and I have absolutely no idea what goes into shooting a commercial - this is really interesting!

foolery said...

Hi HSH -- linked here from Grandma J, but I see you EVERYWHERE and it was only a matter of time!

This was fascinating. I work for a tiny local advertising agency, and when we do a shoot it's the cameraman and one other person (sometimes me) as an assistant. It's a VERY different world. I hope you can put the finished spot up on YouTube? I'd love to see it.


-- Laurie @ Foolery

Loeffler said...

Wow, thanks for the blow by blow so far - I live in upstate NY far from the Hollywood scene and I have absolutely no idea what goes into shooting a commercial - this is really interesting!