OK, I'm ready to spill the beans about what I've been up to. I just got back to my apartment from a trip to Boston. I got off the plane with a headache, the cab I got in smelled like ass, it was too hot inside the cab, the Middle Eastern dude driving was yelling on his cell phone the entire ride, the windows wouldn't roll down, I was car sick, and there was traffic. There was a defining moment during the cab ride that I truly believed I had died from a heart attack after getting into the cab, and I was in hell.
"What were you doing in Boston Nick?", you're wondering. Well calm the fuck down already and I'll tell you.
Let me start by explaining my philosophy about some stuff. I have worked in the most volatile industry in the world for years, the entertainment industry. The entertainment industry is fickle, confused, and not unlike standing on the tip of a pyramid. You teeter back and forth with no idea if a stiff breeze isn't going to knock your ass down the slippery slope of the pointy tomb your balancing on. Just as fast as you get a job, it could be taken away from you. So I have adopted the, "Don't talk until the ink is dry", mentality when it comes to ANYTHING involving me getting a job. So in general you won't get any info out of me until I've sign contracts or just finished a job.
So since the shoot is officially over I can talk about it. I was shooting my first commercial. That's right, I'm going to be totally famous now, although I did pretty bad in the commercial, it could be my last. But I'll talk about that later.
Here's how it went down. Last week on Monday I went in to audition for a Comcast spot. I went to the audition and read the cue cards. It was pretty cut and dry. I didn't think I had done anything special. That Tuesday I got an e-mail that said I made it to the call back. Yippee.
This was my 2nd commercial audition, so I was shocked to get the callback e-mail. The next day, Wednesday, I went in to read for the callback. In the first audition, it was just one little cute girl telling us what to do, no pressure. This time it was about 10 people including the client, the director and some other folks. Again it was nothing special and I didn't think I had done anything mind blowing.
The next day I got an e-mail that said I booked it. I got a call from the production company with my travel info and I was to leave the following Monday on a plane to Boston for the Tuesday shoot. I was stoked and excited. There is something else happening this week that I will talk about later, something that already had me excited and anxious, so this just added to my anxiety.
To be fair with all 3 of the people that read my blog, I'm going to talk about something my body does to fuck with me when I get too stressed out. It's full disclosure time. This is something very embarrassing for me and something I hate more than anything about my genetics. I inherited this fun little defect from my mom, I don't blame her for it, I just wish this couple of chains in my DNA could have been left behind. If I get a cold or I get stressed out I get cold sores. There it is, out in the open, I'm not ashamed anymore.
On Thursday and Friday I wasn't worried about the shoot. I wasn't worried about the other thing I'm going to tell you about later. I was DEATHLY afraid I was going to get a cold sore. I just new if I did I would have to cancel my shoot. I tried my best to calm down. I said mantra's. I stopped drinking coffee. I tried to meditate. All to no avail, I was anxious as hell, so of course, Saturday morning I wake up to a wonderful surprise on my upper lip. Thanks brain, you suck! So all weekend I'm freaking out about what I should do. Long story short everyone I talked to said the make up lady could fix it. So I went through with the shoot. And guess what? The make up lady totally covered that shit up! No worries. Too bad she couldn't help me remember my lines, but more about that later.
I wanted to send a shout out to Verne, the costume guy, and Jean the make up lady. Both of them were so freaking nice and supportive that it honestly felt like they had known me all my life. I wouldn't have made it through the shoot without their kindness. I know they will never see this blog post, but I just wanted it said that I truly appreciated their help and will cherish it always.
Man, there must be a leak in the "Sappy" gas line in my apartment. Let me turn up the "Cynical" gas nob so this blog can get back on track.
I arrived in Boston around 3pm. Me and two of the other actors were on the same plane. The other actor drove into Boston. There was a total of 4 master thespians involved in the shoot, 2 girls and 2 dudes. Me and the two girls were met by a nice intern who drove us to the production house. The name if the production company was Element. It was in an old warehouse building. I think there's some law that says hip and cool agencies have to be in old warehouses. It was pretty neat inside. We were all fitted for our costumes when we got there.
Oh yeah, I had to hang upside down from gravity boots in the commercial. They wanted to test them out while I was there so I had to get in these freaking tight as balls gravity boots and hang upside down in front of 6 to 7 people. A tad uncomfortable at best.
We were all then whisked away to our hotel. It was now around 7pm and we all decided to grab a bite at the TGI Fridays that was attached to the hotel. The food sucked, but it was nice talking to the other actors. Everyone seemed just as clueless as me so I felt a little more at ease.
After dinner we all went to our respective rooms. I went over my lines for a bit and then fell asleep. Here is my hotel room.
Call time for the shoot was 6am, so I had to get up at 5:30am. Having to get up that early always means I'm gonna have a terrible nights sleep because I'll keep waking up thinking I'm not going to wake up.
We all met in the lobby at 6am and were taken to the set. It was a dismal, dark and rainy morning. The commercial was all shot in this enormous mansion. It was beautiful inside and seem to have hundreds of rooms.
Here's a couple pics of the awesome wooden staircase.
I totally thought the shoot would be done with an HDV camera and have minimal crew members. I was wrong. It was shot on 35mm film with tons of equipment and about 35 crew people running around. This was the real deal and that freaked me out a little bit to be honest.
Here are some of the trucks that brought all the film stuff.
Here's some shots of the piles of film and lighting equipment that they brought.
Here's the room where our wardrobe and make up went down.
This the Greg and Jean the awesome make up lady. Greg's in my commercial with me. It's a split screen type of thing. He's a friend of mine form the UCB improv community, and he's a real nice guy. His bit was shot first. It was a fairly simple set up and he did a great. He had a lot of copy to fire off and he got through it with no problem.
The girl in the make-up chair is Janine, one of the actresses. The guy in the black shirt is Verne the awesome costume guy.
Here is Janine with Angela, the other actress. They're commercial is split screen as well.
I had to read my copy off camera as Greg did his filming. I was sitting behind all these lighting reflectors. Here is an artsy shot of Greg on the couch.
Shooting Greg's bit and setting up for the next shoot took about 3 hours. Up next was Janine. She sits at a desk and has two leaf blowers fired at her for half her shot. Here she is getting ready for the shoot.
Here she is at the desk.
This is a shot of the desk, so you can see the wind machine that poor Janine had to deal with for 20 takes.
The call time was 6am, but I was the last one to get shot, so I didn't have anything to do for 11 hours, because they didn't get to me until about 5pm.
There wasn't a whole lot of anything for me to do while I waited around. I ran my lines now and then, and visited the craft service table occasionally.
I drank some tea and immediately started to lactate. I found out why when I looked at the type of tea I drank.
After I filled up a couple bags of milk with my breast pump, I started walking around taking pictures. Here is a nice scenic picture of the area. There's a dead hobo in the leaves, if you can find him you win a prize.
Here's how they make it look like it's sunny outside with the magic of lights. It's totally worth eating up electricity and destroying our planet! Go go commercials!
Here are some weird hairy animal skulls that were actually in the house when we got there as decoration. I'm not sure who lives in this house, but there's a good chance they might be those predator's from the movie Predator.
Finally it was close to my turn, so I got on my outfit and hit the make up chair. You can't tell, but there is a grotesque oozing sore on my upper lip. I want the make up lady to move in with me.
My whole shtick in the commercial is that I'm upside down. I still really don't understand the concept behind the commercial, but I wasn't getting paid to critique the copy, I was getting paid to forget my lines and screw up a bunch of takes.
Is that a wire in your tie or is your tie just happy to see me?
For one shot of the commercial I'm actually hanging upside down. If you ever thought hanging upside down in a button up shirt and tie, trying to say dialog, and do physical comedy with a bag of popcorn sounded like a good idea, it's not. I did learn a lot during this part of the shoot. I learned that when a production company is 3 hours behind and they decide to do the most complicated shots last, that all the union people get mad. I learned that after being hung upside down on and off for 30 minutes, your acting is shitty afterward. I learned that hanging around all day tires you out. I learned that when you are given 4 to 6 things to do physically with your body, a mark to hit, lines that have to be read at precisely the right moment, a crew of tired union workers ready to go home, and a script that has changed 4 times that day, it tends to fuck your head up considerably.
I didn't do very well on this shoot. I kept fucking up one line over and over. Of course I've said that line to myself 100 times today with no problem at all, but it doesn't matter today, it mattered last night. And I fucked it up. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my performance. I'm sure the commercial will be fine, but I felt terrible afterward. This is something I really want to do, and I didn't do it very well. I'm going to chalk it up to it being my first time and learn from my mistakes. John, the director, was very patient and helped me as much as he could.
After being up for 15 hours, it's sort of hard to have your head screwed on straight.
Let's talk about me hanging upside down. I'm pretty sure that how they hung me upside down was extremely dangerous and probably illegal, and I wish to God I had pictures of that, but all I have is a picture of the long pole that they put onto two rolling dolly's.
The two dolly's that this pole went across had wheels and each had a crank that extended the dolly upward. Three guys would put me into the rig, THEN they would roll the dolly's into position and crank me up on each dolly simultaneously to about 15 feet off the ground. Here is a crudely drawn picture I drewd, to help illustrate.
Before they shot my stuff, they had outlined me on foam core and cut it out. They used the cutout to stage the shot. It's sitting in the chair taking a break in this picture.
At least the cut out of me got it's lines right. He had a better personality too.
I made an animated pic of me right side up and then upside down.
We didn't rap the entire shoot until after 9pm, and that meant I missed the last shuttle back to New York, so I had to stay in a crappy airport hotel that night. They grabbed a PA to drive me to the hotel, unfortunately the directions sucked. It took 35 minutes to find the hotel. This puts my day at an end around 10:30pm. A 17 hour day.
Here is my crappy hotel room.
I hadn't eaten dinner and the hotel "restaurant/bar" closed at 11pm, so I ran downstairs for a beer and some terrible pasta. The hotels tiny "restaurant/bar" was full of business men. You could've plucked depressing out of the air and put it in your pockets to take with you. I ordered a beer and drank it pretty fast because I was upset about the day. The "food" finally arrived and I ordered another beer. I ate pretty fast. I thought to myself, "I don't want to go right to bed, and I am sort of celebrating my first commercial shoot, I'll have one more beer."
I order another beer. I started to drink it and realize that I just wanted out of that sad sad "restaurant/bar". Before I finished my beer I had to take a piss. I went into the restroom, only to be greeted with more vomit than I had ever seen in my life. Some poor dude didn't make it all the way to the stall. It was on the stall door and continued on the floor to the toilet. I'm sure he made it to the toilet, but by the looks of it there couldn't have been much left in him. I peed and went back to my beer.
I finished my third beer and went to the room for a bath and beddy bye time. It wasn't until about 3am that I woke up with a terrible pounding headache, and realized I had previously drunk 3 beers in about 30 minutes. Not a good idea. My head was mad at me and I didn't have any Advil to throw at him to get him to shut up.
Here's the view from my crappy hotel room the next day. The fall colors are nice.
I hopped on the shuttle to the airport after some continental breakfast, and got the hell out of Boston.
That's enough for now. I'll tell you the much cooler thing that I'm anxious about soon. I can't blog for a couple days though, because this other thing has me flying to Las Vegas in the morning so I can do a 5 minute stand up bit in Caesars Palace as part of the Comedy Festival that's going on this weekend. It's a long story that involves me winning a finalist spot in a stand up contest. I'll tell y'all all about it soon I promise.