Jan 31, 2008

Agency Duck

The director turned to me, “Where was the duck in the tub?”

The least of my worries was the duck in the tub with the four-month-old baby. My main concern was the actress (playing the mom) who couldn’t say her f**king lines correctly and the director who wanted her to fit 30 seconds worth of dialogue into 22!! She sounded like a squirrel! Not that it was the director’s fault; it was a major head banging effort of the director to try to get the agency to drop some dialogue. No, they just wanted her to talk faster to fit the dialogue into 22 seconds! Brilliant.

So, this particular spot with the mom and baby was one of five spots we were filming over a period of two days. As we began filming each over written spot the director asked the agency producer “does he/she (actor) sound like he/she’s talking too fast? Knowing damn well she/he was sounding like a GERBIL!! The agency dude would say. “No, sounds good to me.” And then in an act of sheer supreme ego mania the agency dude began to DIRECT! I can only imagine how that felt to the REAL director. After the first two spots, the agency dude stepped right on to set and began to direct the actors!

Back to the mom and baby spot…again my major concern was the chipmunk sounding actress who kept adding words to an already tight script, mismanaging her props during each take, (a matching nightmare for post), and made the poor victim… an unbelievably sweet 4 month old baby… sit in the tub WAY too long, She went through 20 takes on her wide shot, 23 takes on her close up, and 12 takes on an over the shoulder. Learn your damn lines!

It was during the over the shoulder shot that the director turned to me and asked “Where was the duck in the tub?” Yes, let’s worry about duck placement for a moment. The duck was barely seen in the wide, Never seen in the close-up and now, for the over the shoulder shot looking down at the CUTE BABY, he asks me where’s the duck! Who in their right mind watching a 30 second spot would notice a duck instead of a CUTE BABY! Not to mention, there was a time lapse, and the company’s logo plays just before this shot. And lets not forget the fact that this spot is running long and more than likely the shot we're working on will be cut. Yes, the duck…it was where any duck should be… happily floating in the tub to the left of the baby… blissfully ignorant to the egotistic agency dude and the unprofessional actress.


Casey said...

Ah, agents overstepping their boundaries...I am familiar. ;)

Anonymous said...

I mentioned this story to my favorite director last night and I asked him what he would do in that predicament. He said what worked for him was to say to the actor (in front of the agency rep) "If you do anything this guy tells you to your fired." And that would stop any further directorial comments.

Michael Taylor said...

It's nice to hear that those agency gerbils are just as clueless as ever. My own commercial career spanned two decades (ending in the late 90's), and it seems there was always at least one extremely assertive moron in the agency herd who thought he knew more than the director -- or anybody else, for that matter. The rest of the agency clones were usually too scared to muzzle the loudmouth.

It's a good thing commercials are short-term jobs...

Scripty said...

Thanks for the comments! And your right Michael, thankfully commercials are short-term, I can put up with a lot of sh*t knowing it'll all be over in 12-16 hours!