Audition and Theatrical
Tony Winner Predix
BK Prime Time Airing
The Fire's Ready. So's the Commercial
Movable Type 2.63
April 25, 2003
Shooting the Burger King spot
Call time was 7:00 in the morning yesterday, Thursday the 24th of April. How in the world I woke up at 4:45am and arrived on set for breakfast is beyond me. Perhaps it had a little do with the fact that this was the first time I'd be back in L.A. working professionally in over ten years?
Last week I auditioned in Santa Monica at a casting agency with a woman my age. The audition called for the two of us to meticulously clean a "car." Five minutes later we were out the door and on to the next audition. I didn't think much of the audition. It wasn't bad in the least. It was pretty standard and life went on. That is until my agent called to confirm my availability for the shoot. When he called he told me instead of washing a car with my girlfriend I'd be washing a car with my son. My son!? Okay, I guess. As is usually the case, there wasn't much consensus as to what the commercial would entail and how I'd be involved. All I knew is I was hired as a principal (lead) actor in a national commercial for Burger King.
Just before 7am, yesterday, I dropped my stuff off in the talent trailer and met a few of the other actors hired for the shoot. It turned out that there were six of us. Five in our mid twenties to early thirties and one little girl, nine years old. One adorable little nine year old African American girl, one early thirty year old African American man and, two other twenty something guys and a twenty something woman. Okay. So, clearly the kid isn't mine. It turns out, however, as originally expected, the girl is.
Contracts were signed and the six of us proceeded to meet with wardrobe to have several potential outfits chosen and photographed to be sent to the creative team, director, ad agency and client. We proceeded to go through makeup as our clothes were chosen. Blue jeans, brown shirt and flip flops for me. Additional points, and salary, were awarded for providing my own jeans. Score. We dressed and were shuttled off to location.
Ten minutes later, we arrived on set. A beautiful, relatively new suburban street with manicured lawns and a bright blue sky. Our director was Joe Pytka, a world renowned director known mainly for his work in directing some of the most well known and critically acclaimed advertising. I was wired with a microphone along with Britan, shooting his first national commercial. My girlfriend and I were to wash the blue Mustang in the second driveway. Father and daughter were to wash the green Jeep and Jason, the third twenty-something guy, washed the two door red compact car in the fourth driveway
There was no prep time, rehearsal or discussion of what was to happen. That's simply not how Pytka works. Instead, we went to our respective driveways and were asked to start washing. Thankfully, I took Acting Through Car Washing 217 in college. Because of being relatively unsure as to what was being asked of us, all I can go on without seeing the finished product is what I did and saw. My basic understanding of the commercial is that it's all shot from one camera point of view, closest to Britan with my girlfriend and I at the house next door. The spot apparently opens on the neighborhood ("The Neighborhood," I believe, is also the official title of this thirty second commercial) with the five of us at our three driveways, washing our cars. My neighbor Britain, whose character we dubbed Burt for no reason other than it made us laugh at nine in the morning, walks onto his driveway with hose in hand. He looks over at our car and says "Mornin" to us. I return with "Mornin," what I believe will be my first professional line on national television. I memorized that line on the spot. My college education, once again, paying off. Next instead of washing a car like the rest of us, we see "Burt" washing his barbecue grill.
And, er, well... uh... that's it. We shot that in two hours. At 11am the shoot wrapped. We were shuttled back to the trailer, signed out and went home. I'm sure there's more to the commercial than I was made aware of at the time.
Though I don't necessarily expect brilliance, Joe Pytka has been known for his when it comes to his work. I knew he had directed many Superbowl commercials including the Pepsi commercials with Britney Spears as well as Cindy Crawford. I didn't, however, realize until after the shoot, that this was the same man behind commercials such as the "This is your brain on drugs" public service announcement, the Bartles and James "Thank you for your support" campaign, the Ray Charles' "Uh-huh" Pepsi spots, the Larry Bird / Michael Jordan "Nothing but net" spot for McDonald's, etc. An in depth article on director Joe Pytka and his work is available here at the Directors Guild website.
I don't know when this commercial will start airing. I won't until a) I begin receiving residual payment from the ad agency, b) I see the spot on television myself, or c) you see the spot and let me know. If the case is c) before or after I end up hearing it's airing, please do keep a note of when you saw the commercial and on what station.
I've auditioned for about fifteen commercials in the last three months. I've gotten four callbacks and this one national spot. This business takes a little talent and a whole lot of perseverance and luck. I can't wait for the next one, though hopefully, the call will be slightly later than seven in the morning!Posted by Mark at April 25, 2003 10:05 PM | TrackBack
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