The Total Man Package: The Talent is Here
by Dan Murphy
Who's the talent? That's ME, the TMP, you jabronies! At least, that's what I was referred to as on a Pedernales electric commercial I worked on last month. You've heard me brag and boast about fictional star treatment that I deserved or received in the past. Well, this time it's true. It's about time too.
Morgana, the casting director, told me the commercial was going to shoot on Monday-Thursday and that they would probably use me on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. It turned out the call time got changed to 10 a.m. This worked out excellent for me because I wasn't released from a guinea pig study that I was doing until 8 a.m. So, it gave me some extra time to get to the location on time.
Morgana told me I'd be playing a Pedernales Lineman without any lines along with two other people. Morgana was also very hesitant to mention what the commercial was paying. Before she got to the actual price, she mentioned that the pay was below scale, that I would get a copy of the commercial and I could list myself as a principal for the commercial on my resume. I said okay and then she finally mentioned the pay was $150 (the actual payment was $175) for 2-4 hours of work. It turned out I was only there for around 2.5 hours.
The shoot location was off of 290 in Dripping Springs in the Meadow Oaks housing development. I took a cab from Austin to Dripping Springs for a flat rate of $54 (this has relevance later) and arrived at a building site for a house. I got there early. There was a guy there doing some work on the house in a Bobcat. I asked him if this was the location for the Pedernales commercial and he confirmed it. It turned out he was the developer.
Within 20 minutes another actor, Terry, showed up. We introduced ourselves and had a nice conversation. Terry had been working in the Dallas area, but mentioned the area was really slowing down. I've heard this from two other people in the production side of the business as well. Terry worked on WALKER TEXAS RANGER in different extra roles.
After talking with Terry for about 10 minutes, Moses Fisher, the Production Coordinator for Wilson Brown Productions, showed up along with some other crew. We all introduced ourselves again. He asked whose bags were sitting on a stone. I told him they were mine and explained I had just got out of a guinea pig study and took a cab there.
Here's where the Star Treatment begins. Moses said I should have let him know and he would have arranged to have me driven to the set. Then, he wanted to arrange a ride for me back to Austin. There was breakfast food available and Moses was reassuring us that shooting would start soon as if we had been standing around for hours.
Then the third person playing a lineman, Rhonda, showed up. After short introductions we were all shuffled off to the Makeup Trailer. To kill some time, there was some gossiping about celebrities and jobs. I've heard rumors before about Tommy Lee Jones. Well, the Makeup Lady, (sorry, I forgot her name) reaffirmed what I had heard when she told me about an incident when she did makeup for Jones on some project. One of his dogs was getting in the way or wouldn't shut up and Jones smacked the dog violently on top of the head and made some sort of derogatory remark.
As I mentioned, Terry worked with Chuck Norris on his show and said Chuck was a nice guy. I've heard this before from Eddy Plummer who worked with me on ONE SWEET DEAL as a shady Salesman. Eddy Played a bailiff on an episode of WALKER TEXAS RANGER. In addition, Terry and Eddy both mentioned, "You know Chuck wears lifts in his shoes." Supposedly, Chuck is only around 5'7" tall and most of the people playing opposite of him were required to be his height or shorter. When I'm a big star I'll be able to work with more people because I'm 5'81/2". With lifts I can probably add two inches. Therefore, I'll be able to work with anyone 5'10" or shorter and still feel really good about myself.
During our discussions in the Makeup Trailer, one of the Production Assistants was in constant contact with the actual set location via walking talkie to determine when we would be needed. The girl PA called a few times checking to see if they were ready for THE TALENT (The Actors). This was pretty cool to be referred to as the TALENT instead of an Extra, Slacker, Putz, etc. I think I'm going to have a talk with my supervisors at the Convention Center to start announcing me like that: "The TALENT is here" to work the Loading Dock, Security, etc.
I took the makeup chair last and we immediately ran into a little trouble. The makeup lady had one of the PAs radio Moses to see if I needed to be shaved more. I had shaved the night before, but I guess they were concerned about the slight overnight stubble. He said, "Shave 'im." So, I got a shave as well as some makeup. I shouldn't have showered either. Then maybe the Makeup Lady would have given me a sponge bath. After the makeup and shave, we put on a blue Pedernales work shirt. The rest of our wardrobe consisted of a hardhat, blue jeans and work boots.
Finally, the Talent was called to the set. They were ready to shoot.There was a discussion about whether Terry or Rhonda should play the supervisor role. I wasn't considered because I was the younger actor. They decided Rhonda would play the supervisor and we shot a couple of different scenes for the commercial.
The first scene consisted of Rhonda acting like she was giving us directions for work and then we all pulled together for a close-up shot. It took 3-4 run-throughs and 3-4 attempted shoots before we got it right. They wanted to make sure everyone was in the scene and that I wasn't blocking the Pedernales insignia on the work truck I was walking away from. The next scene was the three of us walking together discussing business while the director swirled around us filming with the camera. We only ran through this scene a couple of times and were done.
Suddenly, I was called to go to the Makeup Trailer. Moses told me to take off my Pedernales shirt and grab my things. No, they weren't kicking me off the set. Moses said, "I've got a ride here for you back to Austin." Moses asked Jamie, who was one of the PA's, to stick around and give me a ride home. I thanked Moses for the ride and was quickly whisked off. Jamie grabbed my bags and threw them in the back of her SUV. I found out that Jamie was in a big rush to catch a flight and had stayed past her scheduled time just to give me a ride. Now I felt bad because she had to hang around for me and might miss her flight.
It gets worse. We pulled out of the Meadows Oaks development and Jamie got pulled over by a State Highway Trooper for speeding. I'm telling her, "Don't worry if you're nice you've got a good chance getting out of it." I was telling her about how I got out of some tickets by being pleasant and agreeing with the officer. I also thought there was a good chance the officer would just give her a warning because she was a cute girl.
No dice. First off, it turned out it wasn't a male officer. Jamie was perfectly nice, explained her situation and didn't argue. It didn't matter. This female officer never smiled and came off cold. When officer came back to give Jamie the ticket, she even made a snide remark. She said, "By the way I was at the airport earlier and it was real busy. You probably won't make your flight." Needless to say, we spent a majority of the conversation joking/talking about what a jerk the officer was on the way back to Austin.
All in all, this was the best experience acting experience I've had. A little pampering, little dead time, just a few hours, paid. Along with no lines to memorize, that works for me.
Look for the commercial to run around January in the Austin area.
Talk to you next month. Take Care!
THE TOTAL MAN PACKAGE!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!