Last week I heard Peter Gammons on ESPN radio say something like, "Did Aramis Ramirez retire?"
Anyway, not talking about it.
Here's a story of the best commercial production prank you'll ever read.
I've done lots of commercials over my career, and when you go to another country, ANY damn thing can happen. Different cultures, different languages...it's all just different.
One time in China, an assistant took a polaroid of what was supposed to be our location. It was a living room, and she didn't realize that the urns on the shelf contained the remains of someone's ancestors, and I guess you're not supposed to take pictures of that.
The guy who owned the house went ballistic and...we weren't able to shoot there.
The beginning of any good prank must have a set-up.
Before we even left, our producer/prankster Di explained to me that when shooting in Marrakesh, we would have to be very sensitive to the local culture there. Like, we may have to dress a certain way to get into certain parts of the city...
So to get you in the mood, here are some shots of a very different culture, where said prank took place.
So anyway, when you go shoot in other countries, you hire a local production company to assist your director and his team. They know locations and all that stuff.
This company was called Dune Films, and they assisted on movies like "Babel".
The night before we're to do our casting, a producer tells us that tomorrow we'll be casting in a very culturally sensitive part of the city, where anything Western would be frowned upon.
He wasn't sure, but there may be some clothing waiting for us in our rooms at the hotel.
I got back and here's the note I found (btw, I take photos of everything):
So in the morning, I'm having breakfast with Bill, the group creative director.
Literally, I said something like, "Pass the salt" and he went goofy with laughter.
I simply thought I must be particularly funny.
The director and his producer were at another table, kind of hiding behind a giant plant.
So, they wanted privacy I guess.
Now it's about 15 minutes before the van is gonna leave, and I'm looking at this pile of clothes.
I call Bill, "Are you gonna put this stuff on now or wait til we get there?"
Giant laugh, which should have at least set off an alarm, and then "...Now."
Whatever man, this is for the greater good of the shoot and I am part of a team, right?
So the pants are very square and designed so that when they're all the way pulled up, the legs meet about mid-thigh.
There are thin white socks, a long sleeve white shirt, a pullover white robe that goes over it all, a fes (hat), and these long, pointed yellow shoes.
These shoes - the heel was folded down so they were meant to be worn like clogs, but they just fell off so I "broke" them by unfolding the heel.
But when I walked, they'd fall off the back and the bottoms made a loud clacking sound, which is one of the reasons everyone in the hotel turned to stare.
The hotel was designed so you had to walk thru this restaurant area, down a long dark hall, then into the lobby.
The guests here all stared at me like, "What the hell, man?" while the people who lived here...one even touched my robe and sincerely said, "Very nice!"
So I get to the lobby and nobody's there.
I panic, sitting on a bench.
The most uncool thing you can do while on production is be late, and I'm thinking I CAN'T be late, right?
I walk up to the front desk, and idiotically say this to the Moroccan woman who speaks French: "Ummm, did you see a bunch of people who...look like me (pointing at my face), but are also dressed like this (pointing at my robes)."
She and the rest of the crew there all guffawed, which made me kinda nervous.
But she said "no".
So now I'm having a heart attack thinking maybe I missed the freaking van, when the producer sticks her head in the front door and yells, "EVERYONE'S WAITING!"
And unfortunately for me, this is a still from the video (not sharing, sorry) that the director shot as I walked to the van, saw that no one else had on these clothes, registered the collective laughing and realized I'd been had.
I was so much in shock I actually got in the van and we drove all the way to the casting with me pretty much using every bad word you can say.
But the depth of prank, starting from well before we got on a plane, planned so well that everyone at the agency and client knew about it - it was all done so well that I couldn't even get mad.
Just a brilliant use of the location.
Once we got to casting, it turned out we were way early so I had the Moroccan driver take me back to the hotel to change.
I'm sitting in the front seat next to him and he says nothing and I figure maybe doesn't speak English, which is when I realize he's just trying to hold in his laughter, which is when he says, "BWAHHH HA HA GOOD JOKE WAH HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Anyway, I hope this story was better than talking about another miserable loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And the shoot went great, by the way.