Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

The teenage DJ Starbucks

The first question that anyone working on location asks is “Where’s the nearest coffee place?”

It’s usually a Starbucks, although some of us prefer Peets or the Coffee Bean.

The other night I volunteered to go fetch our boss a latte, since the latte dispenser on the craft service truck was broken, and he was dragging and needed some caffeine.

I don’t mind going to get him coffee – he’s a great guy and I want to keep him happy, plus while I’m driving I get to sit down, which is a bonus for my sore feet. Also, the real toilets are a nice change from peeing in a portable ‘shitter’ that 100 people are sharing.

The Starbucks I found was having a DJ night. They had a guy spinning house on the turntables, and the joint was full of the local teenagers, doing whatever it is that teenagers do when they’re hopped up on overpriced coffee.

As I was standing at the counter, waiting to shout my order over the din, a kid spotted my walkie talkie (the surveillance headset/walkie contraption is such a pain to take off that I just leave it on) and asked me if I was a cop.

“No,” I said. “We’re filming in the area.”

He brightened noticeably at this. “What movie are you working on?”

Now, sometimes this question is fine. Sometimes I have the time to chat about what I’m doing, what my job is, what the actors are like, how whomever it is can get into the industry, etc..

Sometimes I’m in a hurry or I just don’t want to deal with it, and I need a quick ‘out’.

On these occasions, there’s an answer which will instantly kill the interest of anyone casually inquiring about a film project – when they ask what you’re working on, you tell them it’s a mayonnaise commercial.

As soon as someone hears the words “mayonnaise commercial” they instantly and completely lose all curiosity about whatever it is I do, whatever else it is I have to say, and the film industry in general.

I don’t know why this is. I only know that it’s a free pass out of a conversation that I sometimes just don’t feel like having.

The other night was one of those times.

I told the kid I was working on a mayonnaise commercial.

“A what?”

“A MAYONNAISE COMMERCIAL”, I yelled over the music.

The kid’s face fell. “Oh,” he said, and turned away, disappointed.

Works every time.

Just do me one favor: if, when you ask them what they’re working on, a crew person tells you it’s a mayonnaise commercial – please interpret that as a polite way of telling you that they just can’t have that particular conversation at that particular moment.

Maybe they’re tired, maybe they’re busy, maybe they’re sweaty and the Gold Bond ™ just ran out, maybe it’s almost lunch or they just got dressed down by their boss.

Just don’t take it personally – it really isn’t about you.

Filed under: Work

17 Responses

  1. -K- says:

    I always enjoy your site.

    (thats all.)

  2. Dave2 says:

    OMG! WAS IT BEST FOODS MAYONAISE?!? I could give a fig about Kraft Mayo… but Best Foods is the Cadillac of salad dressings, and I would totally want to see that shoot!

    Hmmm… I guess your blow-off line doesn’t work on everybody! :-)

  3. Lost on location says:

    There is always “it’s an Always comercial.” you know the fem hygene product. I found Mayo had lost it’s touch.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Interesting…when on a plane I always get asked what I do. Hoping that teacher will stop the conversation they then ask what do you teach… then the conversation halts as the seem to expect 3rd grade. Instead I go for the truth,saying post production sound for film and video…I’m a college professor…..
    I need a better blow off line as well.

  5. Tiffany says:

    LOL–that was great.

  6. Andrew says:

    Well great… now the secret is out! That’s my favorite line. I use it whenever I’m working – and you’re right, it’s an instant conversation killer. I also enjoy telling people we’re doing an ad for a new adult diaper line. Also effective.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Of course, you’ll have to come up with a new line if you really ARE working on a mayonnaise commercial!

    Peter
    Iron Rails & Iron Weights

  8. Before I got to the punchline, I thought you were going to tell them you were working on a porn shoot. But I can see why that might continue to attract interest.

    The “mayo commercial” thing is hilarious. Classic. I’m totally going to use that one. Just let me know where to send the royalty check.

  9. Justin says:

    I told somebody that one time and they still didn’t get it. Of course, we were shooting in this dark alley downtown so I suppose mayonaise doesn’t make much sense in a certain context. Tragically.

  10. lizriz says:

    I’ll respect it, but I’m going to respect it with a knowing look! :)

  11. Anonymous says:

    Is it just because all you union G/E have wads of cash, or is there some reason that every set vet wants starbucks? As a patron of the preferably free crafty coffee, I don’t get it.

    I would have just stared at the kid and said something cop-like into the radio.

  12. moneyca says:

    Been enjoying your blog for a few days now.

    I’ve worked in technology for about 10 years; anything from training to running reports. Really interesting stuff. (uh huh) I’ve worked for three companies within that time and when people ask what I do no one ever is interested in pursuring the conversation any further. The funny thing is if I tell people that I work for Disney all of the sudden it’s interesting work. Needless to say, if I’m not in the mood, I’m just an IT geek plugging away…

  13. mike80 says:

    Classic! Being Local 80 for 10 yrs, I use that line all the time. True story – my first job in biz ovr 15 yrs ago – mayonaise commercial. The most tedious, boring shoot you could ever imagine. 72 takes (true) of a spoon dropping mayo onto a salad. And me logging each and every take for video assist with such notes as “Mayo fell off to left of tomato wedge, some on onion”. It was probably some sort of sign…..

  14. Chuck says:

    I used to say diaper commercial. I think I like mayonnaise better.

  15. 8675309 says:

    FanTAStic! Wish I had a mayonnaise answer. Sadly, though, when people stop me on the street every fourteen seconds to ask about the guide dog I’m training, all I can do is pretend to be Helen Keller and keep on walkin’.

  16. The Film Guy says:

    I usually tell people I’m working on a commercial for a hemorrhoid cream. You’ve given me a better blow-off line!

    I really like your site!

  17. Peggy, you are so awesome. This post is yet more proof. Just thought I’d chime in.

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