Big excitement at 1501 yesterday, as the camera trucks rolled in. The house starred in a commercial filmed for the organization, Broadband For America, whose goal is to insure broadband internet access to every home and business in the United States.
A couple of weeks ago a woman knocked on the door and asked if the exterior of the house could be used for a commercial. She had been driving around and decided it had the look she was searching for, and the geographical setting which would be best for light at the time of day of the filming. There would be some compensation for the trouble and, by the way, would we mind if they planted some shrubs that they would, contractually, be required to leave behind? The answer was “yes” to the commercial and “no” we did not mind if shrubs were planted.
A week later, a team of eight dropped in to take photographs and measurements. The director, location scout, art director, props master, lighting director, customer account manager and a couple of others spent an hour, had me move the car to an exact position, and asked to see the garage in case it rained on the day of the shooting and they needed to have the actor exit the house that way. They were pretty shocked by what they saw, thanks to our summer renovation with Potomac Garage Solutions (which I have yet to write about here).
The storyboard was pretty simple and went like this : a man walks out of the house with his briefcase over his shoulder and his smartphone in hand, reading a message. From his car. It says something like, “Time to change my oil!”. He gets in the car. The next shot is at a local auto-body shop, where he has the car serviced, and then sees a car being towed in – presumably because it had not texted its owner to tell him to do preventative maintenance.
Not a word of dialogue.
Yesterday the crew showed up at 10:30—the aforementioned gang, plus the producer, the customer, the talent, a makeup artist and about 20 technicians for the camera, lighting and so on. Huge lights were erected in the front yard. It was a clear and cold day.
A catering table was set up in the garage with lots of snacks, fruit, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Lunch was brought in.
I walked in from a business trip around 12:30 to find 35 people in every room of our house, including upstairs, having lunch, talking on cell phones, working on computers and warming themselves by a roaring fire Lou had built. One guy was wearing one of Lou’s fleeces!
Union-mandated lunch break ended, and they all headed outside to start the filming. Neighbors began “walking their dogs” and stopping by. One woman asked if we were in a reality show.
Ben was beside himself with excitement and insisted I take his picture to prove that this had really happened at our house. He had been excused early from school, and was waiting with great anticipation for the school bus to turn the corner on our street, and to see the face of one of his classmates.
The filming went for over 3 hours. The actor walked beautifully….other than that he was a very average looking/seeming guy. How does an actor get a job like this?
The crew at work :
Lots of networking went on, dah-ling. Patrick, our designer guru and friend, came to watch, and made some great contacts with people who loved the interior of the house as well. Danny has an offer of an internship from Nancy, the producer, the day he turns 18. Nancy has produced cooking shows (like “Emeril”) and said she would like to use the interior in a shoot.
If a 30 second spot takes this much work, this many people, this much time, I absolutely cannot imagine making a movie. The term “big-budget” and then “over budget” on a Tom Cruise flick takes on much more meaning.
I’ll update when the commercial is finished and is going to air. Great fun, super interesting and Danny got a fabulous inside look at the kind of work he thinks he would like to do one day.
My agent is setting up “Real Housewives of Rockville” right now.