‘Gramma Peterson loved this one’
My just-completed jury duty reminds me of my days of going on commercial shoots. You know, scores of random people thrown together for long stretches of downtime and boredom, interrupted by bursts of furious activity.
One thing you were sure to get out of a commercial shoot, though: a great story. Not always the story you went out to shoot, but a great story nonetheless.
Here’s one of my favorites.
I was working with my boss, a great art director and native New Yorker who shall remain nameless. Though if you were active in the business Back In The Day, you may recognize him in the picture above. (Hint: he’s not the one in the blue glasses; that’s me. I guess blue glasses and I go back awhile.)
Anyway. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the art director’s responsibility to choose the location for the shoot. The location being where the commercial will be shot. The commercial of which we speak was for Country Time Lemonade-Flavored Drink Mix (yes, that’s the full name of the product, made by General Foods, now defunct. At least GF is defunct; not sure about Country Time.)
So. This commercial was to be shot on a farm. If you remember the commercials for Country Time, they always included a bunch of kids yelling out ‘Grandpa! Grandpa! How about some good old-fashioned lemonade?!?’ To which Grandpa would invariably reply ‘Hey kids, how about some Country Time Lemonade-Flavored Drink Mix!’ Seriously.
Well, this commercial was different. We had this idea to buy the rights to the song ‘In the Good Old Summertime’ and change the lyrics so it went like this: ‘In the good old sum-mer-ti-ime, we’ll be drinking Country Time’. We’d shoot the commercial on a farm. For atmosphere, we said. But it was really so we could lose the kids — and Grandpa too if we were lucky.
So we had to pick a farm to shoot on. The art director looked and looked. He was feeling a tad insecure about his farm-selection powers, since he was such a City Kid. So he asked for my help, Midwestern Girl that I am. I go through the stacks of photos and select a likely bunch of farms.
He looks at the pictures, scratches his head, purses his lips and asks me what are all those buildings? (He thinks farms come with, like, just a house and a barn.) So I explain, pointing out the chicken house, the shed — and the silo.
‘Silo?’ he asks. ‘Silo?’ (big pause) ‘They have nuclear missiles on this farm?’
This story really cracked up my Grandma Peterson.
I have tons of stories like this one. Anyone else out there want to share a shoot story?
Amagansett, New York. August 2014