I don’t know if this post will make sense to any of you, but the middle of summer is a good time to loosen the tethers and let 'er rip…
You name it, we did it: commercials for cat food, dog food, pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers, candy bars, beer, whiskey, soft drinks, shampoo, sun tan lotion, automobiles, banks, credit cards, cable TV companies, Barbie Dolls, and God knows what else. There were good times and bad -- flying high and getting fired. The low-rent spots weren't anything to write home about, but the high-end jobs paid good money and sent us to spectacular locations throughout the country. In addition to filming all over California we did spots in Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Death Valley, Colorado, El Paso and Austin (Texas), Jackson Hole (Wyoming), Montana, Kansas City, and several locations in Mexico. We filmed against some of the most scenic backdrops you can imagine -- places tourists pay a bundle to see -- and all the while getting paid for it.
That’s why they paid us such good money: to deliver the cinematic magic regardless of the circumstances.
Can’t afford it right now? Who cares -- just put it on a credit card.
I certainly wasn't.
Descending from the high horse, my attitude began to shift after that. I started looking at these ad agency people as just that -- people doing a job. Some were boring, ambitious, me-first assholes, of course, but many were funny, creative, interesting people. My attitude continued to evolve until a few years later, after a long sweaty day filming a spot at Arthur Bryant's BBQ in Kansas City, I accepted the agency's invitation to stay after wrap and sample the legendary smoked meats.*** I was the only crew member who did, and still remember the long look the DP gave me before he climbed into the van back to the hotel.
But do keep an eye open for those dragons. They're out there.
* Yes, I was among that enormous crowd, young, dumb, and full of… enthusiasm.
** This is what finally kicked me off the commercial gravy-train.
*** Yes, the very same establishment where President Obama had lunch last week.