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  #11  
Unread 3rd July 2012, 02:31 AM
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Just finished filming. Three long days of filming, but hopefully it turns out great. Here's what I posted over on SubaruForester.org:

Alright, so earlier this week (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday), were pretty much awesome sauce! What an experience, let me tell you! So here's a rather long (my speciality) description of how this whole thing went down.

So as most of you are aware, a few weeks ago I got a "strange" message in my YouTube inbox as per below:
I found your videos on YouTube and think you might be able to help me out. I'm reaching out from a film production company in New York City, called Bunker New York. We're doing some initial research into Subaru / Impreza car owners who might be interested in being profiled for an upcoming short web-based film project. We are looking for someone who loves the outdoors (climbing, hiking, camping, etc) and isn't afraid of a little adventure. From looking at your videos, I think you fit that bill.

We are specifically seeking Men, age 30-45, with a great outdoors adventuring look. The shoot will take place in Santa Fe at the end of June. If interested, please contact us at ************* with a few recent photos as well as a brief bio telling us about yourself and what you love about the outdoors.

Thanks so much, we hope to hear from you soon!
Katie
So, I responded to the email address this person provided, not really thinking much of it being that it was probably spam. I used a couple of photos I already have floating around the internet, and just provided the story of how I love outdoor adventures, moved to Durango to pursue more outdoor activities, and about the accident and me buying an exact identical replacement to the car that was destroyed. A couple of weeks went by, and I pretty much just forgot out it (even this thread). Then I get this email about a week and half ago......
Hello Josh,

My name is *********, I am from BUNKER a production company in NYC. I know our producer reached out to you asking for you to give him a call, but I wanted to first touch base with you regarding the details of the upcoming project. You had spoken to ***********, our talent coordinator, regarding appearing in a Discovery/Subaru Commercial. These commercials involve REAL Subaru owners and their outstanding experiences with them.

Your story was amazing and we would like to speak with you about attending our shoot on ******** in New Mexico.

Thanks so much and I look forward to speaking with you.
So yeah, I read this email and damn near dropped my phone. I was at work and just had instant butterflies in my stomach. So I gave the producer a call and talked with him about the project. They didn't really tell me what it was going to be about, mainly just that I would be starring in a commercial for Subaru. They told me when the shoot was, so I immediately talked with my work to get the time off. I literally JUST started there, so I have no vacation time saved up for this, so I had to pull a few favors, but they worked with me as they thought it was pretty awesome.

So over the next week or so, I was in constant communication with the producer and a few other people from Bunker. I drove down to Santa Fe, NM (about 4 hour drive from Durango), to the Rosewood Anasazi Inn they put us up in. They didn't spare any expense on that, their DISCOUNTED rate was around $225/night. Not a bad hotel, but for the price, I expected a bit better.

So I get in around 2:00 pm. I already stopped at my buddies house in Los Alamos on the way down to pickup all of his climbing gear and ropes to use as "props" in the commercial at the request of the production studio, never thinking that I was actually going to use it. So I head into the hotel lobby, and there is a line to check in, and I hear people mentioning "Ghost Ranch" where I remember in an email that we were filming. I walked up to them and asked them if they were part of the camera crew........and it happened to be the director for the shoot. We introduced ourselves, and we checked in. I figured we would have a meet and greet session or something.....but no, we were going to head out IMMEDIATELY to the film location to scout shots.

So I checked in and got situated for about 30 minutes, then we all loaded up into a couple vans and headed about an hour north to Ghost Ranch. It's really cool place, very red rock and looks ideal for climbing (from a distance) but it's actually very brittle, crumbling sandstone, so NOT ideal for climbing. So we get out there around 4:30 pm, and start going to different locations around the huge area to scout for shots. I had NO idea what to do, so I just followed, trying to listen in and figure out *** they had in store for me. We scouted a few locations, and they had me stand in a few spots, and they had the director of photography snap pictures with various lenses and such. Did I mention that I really don't get in front of the camera all that often? Someone snapping pictures while they're telling you how to pose with about 15 people watching your every move is VERY uncomfortable.

So we get done for the night, head to a local restaurant, eat, and then head back to the hotel. I was told to meet up in the hotel Library at 10 am to go over wardrobe and view all the equipment I brought with me.
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Unread 3rd July 2012, 02:32 AM
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The next morning, we go over the wardrobe, and what I would be wearing. They had some pants, shirts, shorts in various styles, colors, sizes for me and the director to look over. None of them really fit well, and wasn't the right colors for the directors liking. He wanted a muted color for the shirt, not a bright vibrant one. I didn't have any shirts that didn't have a logo on them. I requested that I use a thin long sleeve shirt, and my own cargo pants. I told him that all the pants they had were too baggy for climbing, and that I use pants when I climb so I can avoid scuffing up my legs. He agreed, so I am to use my own pants, and a long sleeve shirt they found for me in a pale blue color. All of the other gear in the commercial would be my own (well, mine and a LOT of my buddy Tony's gear)

So now it was Thursday, and it was camera time. I was SUPER nervous. They really haven't told me anything I would be doing, so when I arrived on "set", all I saw was a ton of people, equipment unpacking, and the 2012 Outback that would be in the commercial. (surprised it wasn't a 2013, and I brought that up). Director ended up saying "The car doesn't really matter all that much, the commercial is mainly about YOU." That made me even more nervous. The producer was standing by and even chimed in "The only reason why we are all here is because of you!" This made swallowing my water difficult. All of this money, time, effort.......because of me? I just walked around for a bit to clam my nerves. Here's a few photos while I waited for filming to begin:









So we initially arrived around 1:00 pm, and we didn't even start filming til around 7:30 pm. There was a LOT of time waiting, planning, etc. There was a lot of rigging to do in the "rented" Chrysler Town & Country for the camera. I finally found out (about 10 minutes before the camera started rolling) that I would be driving the Outback in a "precision" style. There was two different rigs in the van. One to hold the camera out the back, and one out the side. I was told that we would be driving at speed in very close proximity to each other. And a few times, I would only be several inches from the camera itself. Lot of trust they are giving me, and a lot of pressure on me not to fubar it.



Which now brings me to the camera itself. It's a 35mm movie-production film camera. Expensive is all I could say. Was chatting with the main cameraman in charge of the camera, and he mentioned that even though it's an older camera, the body itself is still worth upwards of $250,000, not including the monitors, multiple lenses, and rigging. I was shocked, even just the "head" to the really expensive tripod they had sitting there was upwards of $10,000.



So yeah, expensive stuff. And to add to the pressure of not screwing up, it's EXTREMELY expensive to shoot film. This camera eats up film like crazy, so every time they roll, it's costing a lot of money. Each magazine only lasts for several minutes. They kept talking about "how long do we have left", and the answer would be "200 feet". Now I know where the term "film footage" comes from. It was explained to me that three perforations in the film equals one frame, and it's being shot at 24 frames/second. One frame is roughly 1-inch. So it goes quickly.

While the crew was finishing rigging the minivan, we get a call from the director and the film crew (who left a little while earlier) to "Bring the talent and picture car immediately." So 4 of us got into the Outback and drove a few miles to the location. It was a really pretty area with a winding uphill road right along some red cliffs. They wanted to get some road shots of the car driving through. This is a public road, so we had to time the shot right with traffic. I was told to drive, and I did. They said it looked horribly slow on film, so I needed to drive a little more "brisk". One of crew got on the radio and said (with what sound like a grin)......"Drive 'brisk', but what you 'feel' comfortable driving. Also mentioning that the faster, the better. So we were filming both ways, and downhill, I picked up the speed a great deal. They said it looked great, and that I would need to keep the same speed to go up the hill. This is a 2.5 N/A Outback, VERY underpowered, so I needed a pretty big distance to make up speed. THRASHING that poor car with only a few miles on it felt horrible, but I did as I was told. I rounded the corner doing a good speed, engine just screaming and they get the shot. I did this a few more times, and we were done with that location. It was my first time "on camera", even though you probably couldn't even see who was driving. We drive back to "base camp" and get notice the rigging has been completed.
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Unread 3rd July 2012, 02:34 AM
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So my walkie starts blasting out my name, and they get me over to the "picture car". A few producers come up and tell me what I would be doing. We are filming on this 1 mile stretch of old road on the Ghost Ranch that was originally built for the last Indiana Jones movie, and has since just sat there and weathered. So I get the queue, and we start rolling. They're talking to me the whole time in the radio, telling me how to adjust and what to do. There was a point where I SWEAR I was touching my bumper to the rigging, and they still said to get closer (at 45 mph). So we did a few miles there and back of filming. Out the back of their van, and from the side. I even had to do hard acceleration to my "mark" and then hold it right there. VERY difficult to do in a CVT that wants to constantly alter the throttle. We did a couple of passes, and all I hear on the radio is "great job, no need for retakes, you drove perfectly!". Wasn't sure if they were just making me feel good, or if I really did a good job, but it felt good. We did a couple more driving up and down the road with a couple of GoPro cameras recording the Subaru emblem and "Outback" lettering as well. And this concluded the day of filming. They seemed happy with what they got done, and I was just worried that we weren't going to be able to film all this stuff we originally talked about because we only had Friday left.

We head back to the hotel, and they said for everyone to meet up in the hotels restaurant for dinner. This is a really expensive restaurant by the looks of it, but I wasn't paying, so I didn't fret. Went downstairs around 10:30 pm and we all gathered around on various tables. The restaurant stayed open past their 10 pm close time specifically for us. I looked and ended up having the New York Strip as everything else was Duck, or Scallops, or some other seafood with $40-50-60 price tags attached to them that I really didnt fancy. The producer ordered a bottle of wine (not sure what kind, or how much it was, but I'm usually not a fan of warm red wines, but this one was amazing). We just sat around and they talked about their experiences. A cameraman described how he worked on the set of Saturday Night Live, as well as a few movies. Another about his experiences on some movies sets and after parties at celebrities' houses, etc. I felt very out of place. A few of them finally asked me work I've done.

"Uh.......nothing really. Just this."

I got some seriously stunned looks from the crew. I guess they didn't know that this commercial was featuring a "true" nobody, an off-the-street Subaru owner. The producer just started to giggle a bit. They asked me how I ended up being the "talent" in this commercial. I mentioned that the commercial was about a real Subaru owner who loves the outdoors. The producer just nodded his head to this, smiling at the rest of them. They all seemed shocked, still asking "So you've never been on a set before? Never in front of a camera?".

"Nope, first time. Still kind of nervous to be honest." They all seemed to be in awe, one of them even saying "I don't believe you, you have to be an actor, right?" Then I told them all about the car crash, showed them pictures, and then showed them the VERY novice YouTube videos of mine. They now all realized it, but seemed to be more enthusiastic about wanting to make me "look like a badass" as one cameraman put it. It felt good knowing that this wasn't just something that was normal in the industry, but still, got nervous about not screwing it all up. The wine was staring to hit me pretty good, and we just sat there until 12:30 or so just talking and listening to each others stories. I do remember though, the bill the producer was signing off on for JUST us 4 at our table. Over $400. It was a good meal, but MAN is that expensive for just 4 people and a bottle of what I could only imagine was liquid gold.

So I was told that Friday would be a big day, and that I would start early. The "sound guy" was going to come to my room around 8:00 am for the "voiceover". My mouth and talking doesn't work early in the morning, so I REALLY hope it doesn't sound horrible, as I already don't like my voice anyhow. So he comes in, and then the producer arrives, along with the director and another guy "The Client".

So now, I need to explain who this client is. It isn't Subaru. This is a VP for Discovery Networks. He's met and knows on a personal level, just about every person in all the Discovery/TLC/Velocity TV shows. He had an assistant with him, and they just flew in from Batton Rouge after spending a few days with the guys from the TV show Sons of Guns. So yeah, he's pretty important. I guess Discovery is producing and making the commercial for Subaru as part of a package Subaru paid to Discovery for some sponsorship.

So anyway, back to the voiceover. They asked me a ton of questions, and I would answer them, then they would have me repeat the answers in different variations, and tones. It was very hard, THE hardest thing about this whole experience. Every time I needed to state a simple sentence, my mind would blank out and I would bomb it badly. They mentioned that all interviews go like this, but I think they said this to make me feel better, as I was SUPER nervous knowing what I said right there and then would be repeated to millions when the commercial aired. After a couple of hours (what seemed like days) we were done. I had 30 minutes to get ready to go back out to the Ghost Ranch for the final day of filming.
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Unread 3rd July 2012, 02:35 AM
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We get out to the Ranch around 11:30 and I see this......







Camera rigging ALL over the car. I was geeking out on the rigging due to the fact that I like to find ways to rig cameras to my own car, and find it fascinating. So I was just hanging around for the couple of hours while they rigged it up for the "in car from out of car" shots. It took them several hours to rig up the car this way, and it wasn't until around 3:30 pm that I was asked to get in (through the back because the front doors can't open) so they can setup the shot with me in it. This is the view I get from the drivers seat......SUPER intimitating.



So I'm sitting there for about 30 minutes, as they adjusting things, then they turn on the damn bright light. It doesn't look like much, but holy hell did that light seem like the surface of the sun. What makes matters worse is that they wanted me to drive on a super bright sunny day in NM without sunglasses with this bright light RIGHT in my face. They showed me a trick to acclimate my eyes. You shut your eyes for around 20 seconds while facing the light, your eyelids will start to glow brighter and brighter. When you open them, you can keep them open without squinting for around 30 seconds or so, then they start to hurt again. Was amazing it actually worked. Though, I still felt like I was squinting most of the time, but we'll see.

So, they had me drive down the 1 mile road with all this camera equipment strapped to the front, with the camera guys constantly telling me over the radio "If you see anything loose, or about to fall off PLEASE stop!" So the director is laying in the back hatch area out of view with a monitor yelling for me to do certain things "turn your head left, now right, lean forward, look up, etc.". Then we get to the end of the road and he tells everyone on the radio "Go out onto the main road."

?????????

We were going to drive out on the public roads, in traffic, with all this rigging all over the car (the car now worth over $250,000 because of the equipment), and FAKE spray painted plastic license plates. I was up for it, but there was a lot of "um" and "what's" coming from the film crew in the van I was following. But what the director says, goes. So I take the rough dirt road to the main highway and we stop by the highway read to pull out and film. Everyone passing by is just staring at me in the car, people slowing down, a couple yelling "what movie is this for!", etc. A couple people even stopped and started taking pictures. Just as we pulled out onto the highway, I said "was the light supposed to just go out?". The director yelled cut, and told everyone to pull over. The light went out, and fried some batteries. They were still trying to figure it all out in the picture below:



So after about 20 minutes of fiddling, they found that it was drawing too much power, and that we needed either more batteries, or rig up some alternate power source. We headed back to base camp while they figured it out. I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, I noticed this......



Yeah, that's a gas-powered GENERATOR being strapped onto the front of the car! As if it wasn't already hard to drive with a huge camera and nuclear-powered light in front of me, they strapped a huge generator right onto the front. The ballast for the imploding-universe of a light was drawing far too much energy, and drained the batteries in just a few minutes. So, the only logical thing to do is strap a generator to the car.

This was my view of the front of the car now.......and I had to drive like this in public at 65+ mph.



But then it started to rain, so they rushed to cover up the camera, generator and light while they waited for it to pass. 20 minutes later, it cleared up and we got word that we were moving the base camp closer to the final filming location a few miles down the road. On the way, we would do several drives by the background location for my driving bits. They ended up moving the generator to the side window rigging as the generator was shaking the camera (which I pointed out even before they strapped it all down). One of the riggers was a little peeved he had to move it, but I got credit for that later on by one of the cameramen by stating "the talent told you it would shake the camera long before you strapped it down, should have listened to him." LOL.
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Unread 3rd July 2012, 02:36 AM
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So now, this is what the car looked like driving down the road, wish I could have seen it as it probably looked ridiculous, but epic at the same time! I could see out of the corner of my eye people just driving by, staring at it. Someone even went to pass us, but then slammed his brakes, and pulled off the road, probably fearing he just drove into a set or something.



We did a few miles of this type of driving, then some in-car shots with a close-up lens which is VERY difficult to ignore. A camera literally a couple inches from your face. Hope it doesn't break your screens when you get the close up of this ugly mug of mine. So now it's around 5:30 and we STILL haven't filmed any of the hiking/climbing scenes yet. We head out to that location, but before we do, we had the director, producer, cameraman, and me in the Subaru and the director told everyone to stay behind as we needed to film "something". We went out onto this single dirt trail and I dropped them off where they wanted. They setup the camera and the director came back and said "Remember, brisk, but comfortable." with a grin in his face. "We need it to kick up dirt and bounce around a bit."

"Yeah, I think I can do that." I replied back with a smile.

So this was about a 1/2 mile dirt trail, rough, lots of dust. I heard "action" over the radio and I went for it. I was purposely driving fast, kicking up dust, keeping the car revving high. I was bouncing all over the place, and I just hear "great, keep it up" over the radio. I kept on pushing, just punishing this brand new car. I get to part of the trail where it made a hard left, and I didn't realize this until I came right up on it. I jammed the brakes, flicked the wheel and got back on the gas and slid the car sideways for a little bit to make the turn, kicking up a TON of dirt. A few hundred yards later, I hear "cut" and "return to pickup camera crew". I did, and they came down, smiles on their faces. "That was better than I imagined, GREAT driving!" came their replies. Maybe I made a name for myself as a stunt driver, who knows. lol.

So we get to the climbing spot. There's nothing to anchor to up top, but we were able to drive a vehicle out of shot to set anchor onto for the top rope. I get on all my gear, the camera crew filmed me from a couple hundred feet away with a HUGE lens. I climbed about 30 feet for so, then they would change lenses, and I would do it again. The rock was EXTREMELY brittle, was falling apart, and if you knocked on it, it echoed like it was hollow. NOT good. After the rock climbing bit was done, we did some hiking shots and bouldering shots (it's about 100 degrees out, and the makeup girl is constantly having to touch me up). Then it was sunset, and it was time for the "hero" shot they said. They put me on the edge of this rock, on top of this cliff, and had me look "hero-ish" out along the canyon. After a few takes of that, we did some very close up climbing holds, foot holds, knot tying, etc. Then they did the "hero" shot of the car parked with its wheel cocked with a nice looking background. They had me walk around the car a couple of times, then they took a few more slider shots of it by itself. At 8:45, it was a wrap. The congratulated me on a job "very well done". We headed back to the hotel, they all ate dinner and I passed as I needed to pack up and head back to Durango. I finished all my paperwork, and was off to Durango by around midnight (I need to work the next day at 8 am).

My Fozzie nor my dog made it into the commercial. They were going to use my dog, but we couldn't at the last minute because we didn't have the right dog harness for the car (Subaru has a contract about showing pets with special dog-seat belts, which we didn't have). My Fozzie didn't make it in, but it did serve a purpose at least. The Discovery VP actually drove my car around loaded with camera gear, equipment and other stuff from location to location. So that was kind of neat.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience, something I will never forget. I hope I could do something like that again someday (as long as it turns out good though). I have contacts that will let me know when the commercial is done, and I'll post it up when it airs.

Below is a short YouTube video I made of the limited clips I had time to film for a "behind the scenes" if you will.

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Unread 3rd July 2012, 06:23 AM
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Wow Blue Fox that is absolutely awesome
Well done mate, very well done

By the sounds of it you deserve a well earned break

Once again congrats & well done

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Unread 3rd July 2012, 06:42 AM
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Awesome!!! Great read, sounds like an incredible experience, stressful, but fun all at the same time. Cannot wait to see the finished product!!!
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Unread 4th July 2012, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carljwnc View Post
Awesome!!! Great read, sounds like an incredible experience, stressful, but fun all at the same time. Cannot wait to see the finished product!!!
I can't wait to see it either!
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Unread 4th July 2012, 05:57 AM
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Fantastic!
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Unread 4th July 2012, 03:26 PM
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That's awesome man! Congrats on the commercial & making your way back down to NM quicker than you figured

I know that place! We hit it up on our way back from Durango back in '07


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