Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Ack! Tabletop!

I got a call last minute to replace a guy who got sick today (with whatever summer cold/allergy/thing is going around right now), and of course I said yes – the call was for a commercial, which is good. Commercials pay incredibly well, but…..

It was Tabletop, which is oh so very bad.

Tabletop is product shots. The product (Barbie, GI Joe, Tampons, Pepsi, etc) is set on a table top and lit, and then you sit there for 15 hours while the advertising agency people tweak and tweak and tweak. It’s like watching grass grow.

Food shoots at least are fun – just because you get to watch the food stylists go batty and see some cool stuff (did you know the milk in cereal commercial close ups isn’t milk? It’s Elmer’s Glue – milk sours and clumps instantly under hot lights. Diluted Elmers White Glue doesn’t).
No, you can’t eat the food. It’s been glued to the spoon, shellacked, sprayed and otherwise rendered inedible – unless actors are eating it, and then the little bit that they’re eating is edible, but nothing else is.

This was not a food shoot. It was some overpriced watch that was mounted on a white cube with a white background. It took us THREE hours to light it to the satisfaction of the agency people, and then we sat there for another 12 hours while they shot the watch from a million different angles – “Now, can you tilt the face down and to the left and can we change the time to read 3:15.”
“Now, tilt the face up and to the left and can we change the time to read 10:30.”
“Now, tilt the face up, to the right, but not too far to the right and can the time read 6:15”.

AAAAHHHHH!!!!!

I read the LA Times, the NY Times, my book, reorganized the ‘ditty cart’, restocked the gels alphabetically, and used my dikes to trim off most of my split ends.

The problem with working film production is that it creates adrenaline junkies. I’m so used to lighting a new scene every three hours that I go insane if I’m not doing the hustle all day.

I always forget how tedious commercials are. You have 15 people from an ad agency who are paying for (and micromanaging) the shoot, so you work at a veeerrrrry slow pace.

It’s not a bad thing (and I’ll be really happy when I get the check), I’m just used to a bit more action.

Filed under: Work

4 Responses

  1. Dave2 says:

    Oh hello… what’s this? Tabletop shots?? Welcome to MY world!!

    Of course, I don’t art direct anything for commercials… it’s all tabletop photography for print… but the tedious attention to detail is the same (if not more-so because the scrutiny and resolution is so much higher). And since a lot of what I do IS food, that should explain a lot about my mental state. :-)

  2. i expect you’ll be hearing from the union of american lesbians soon to berate you for using their members to trim your hair . . .

  3. Peggy Archer says:

    Wait, wait..

    Dave? Are you trying to tell me you sniff the glue?

    Just kidding.

    I don’t see how you do that every day. I spend more than a few hours on one of those shoots and I start wondering if I can chew my own foot off to escape..

    Dikes = wire cutters.

  4. EcamirG says:

    you are the first person to ever organize gels. that makes you my own personal hero.

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