From Waste Lines To Waist Lines
From The Desk Of
Drumlin S Boulder
I’ve been discovered!
I was on our local Business Happenings news segment a few weeks ago with
Stacking Pits & Cavities Chairman, M.T. Kranium. The producers thought
it would be a good show because we had just had a “public
misunderstanding” with them regarding our periodic sorting of their
garbage containers, and seeing corporate espionage is always a “hot
button”, we could perhaps shed some light on the subject.
Well we’d both agreed, and set out a framework for the show, but when it
was being filmed, M.T. started in on us again and accused us of
underhanded activities, despite the fact a judge had thrown out their
complaint, and accepted our position that we hadn’t broken any laws and
that if M.T thought what we took was so important, he should have been
more careful and treat it as ordinary garbage. He commented any
liability sought to be established was offset by the plaintiffs
contributory negligence. Well I lost it somewhat and I called them a
bunch of weenies, which became the show’s sound bite and played over and
over the next few days.
Then, out of the blue, I got a phone call from an agent who said she
might be able to get a part for me in a television commercial.
Now I know a bit about how they fake things in commercials, like using
chemicals to make food “smoking” hot, but I had no idea how to fake
acting. And I always thought commercials were intrusive, repetitious,
and dishonest, and appealed to base material instincts, …well really
only after reading Naomi Klein,…so I wasn’t even sure I wanted to. But
then interest got the better of me and I went to see the agent at the
offices of MTE Ltd, which I
found out when I got there, stood for Management of Talent by Edna.
“Why me?“ was the first question I asked Edna, who’d welcomed me with a
big smile into her autographed picture filled office. I mean I’m not bad
looking if you like circumferentially challenged middle aged men with a
slightly off-center bald spot, but compared to some of the guys in those
pictures, I really look like someone who finished second in a race where
everyone else tied for first.
“It’s the passion and energy behind the way you said you weenies” she
said. “It was like forked lightning striking down from the skies”. That
gave me comfort because a description like that can only come from
someone who knows drama and show business.
My imagination began to get the better of me, so I asked about maybe
getting a part in television. “Dahling” she said, “television is what
happens in between commercials, and I assure you, commercials are more
carefully and elaborately crafted and more frequently seen than any
program on television” . “And the stars”, she added. “There’s the Maytag
Repair Man, Josephine the Plumber, the Man From Glad”.
I was beginning to warm to this woman and the idea. I mean if they can
make stars out of Charlie The Tuna, Morris The Cat, dumb beavers, and
that annoyingly smug tool couple that used to be on Canadian Tire
commercials, I was good to go. So I started to ask more questions about
“First” she said, “you get yourself a terrific agent,…. that’s me”. I
liked the opening…this was sales!
“Shoot days generally run to 16 hours or more, and someone keeps you and
everyone in line to make sure the shoot comes in under budget, on time,
with no disasters” she went on. “You get chosen by casting directors who
work for the producers, so we’re going to need a dynamic head shot, a
resume, a list of your special skills, and some acting and… ” and here
she paused, peered over her glasses, gave me one of those looks people
give you when you wear a paisley tie with a checked shirt, and added,
“presentation classes would do you some good”.
Undeterred by that daunting challenge, I pressed on. “What else should I
Out came a torrent of advice. “Do your homework” she began, and she went
on to say that many people were trying to break into show business, so
be professional and stay ahead of the competition. “Get to know the
industry professionals and people who are working now”. Here she
reinforced her value by adding she had the contacts I needed and that
her network was the best in the biz. Yes, she really did say “biz”
“Study, practice, and study some more and learn from the best. Look at
commercials, and take notes on how people move, their gestures, how they
speak. And we’ll start small so you can learn, and develop you into a
big fish in a small pond. And we’ll get your name, resume and photo out
there, and often.” Here she paused, as if waiting for me to be impressed
by her game plan.
“Sounds just like starting a business” I began, but I felt foolish as
she immediately purred “But it is dahling, why do you think they call it
I must have noticed my discomfort because she immediately went for the
clincher and offered to take me to a location so I could see for myself
how a set worked. I must say I had a great time watching actors sit
around for hours while others worked frenetically around them setting up
a sequence that took 5 seconds worth of film. Yup, a 16 hour day for 30
seconds worth of airtime would leave me plenty of down time to run
Portable Holes via cell phone and fill my stomach with the fine food
they had catered to the set. I was sold and signed on with Edna.
But back at Portable Holes my staff wasn’t too sure when I told them I
was “in the biz“, citing my skills and looks and responsibilities
"Looks don't matter", I retorted, it is all about the needs of the
scene. "I could be a lot of people" I added. and acting is simply faking being
real about saying and doing whatever the script and director say".
Since following the money goes through the producer who owns it all, I
was interested in that too, I told them, but this commercial gig is
real. Edna helped a lot in that she said "present positively and
passionately" and "think in the moment real" and "think scripted and practiced sales presentation"
just before we did things in front of the camera in a screen test. That
got me through to the extent Edna and I made her agency officially mine.
I promised them all I would not get a swelled head and too ambitious about it.
As long as they gave me a day or two here and there I'd be happy. They
all agreed they could run the business while I was shooting and who else
but The Big Guy suggested I might want to go on TV as our company spokesman, like the hair guy who’s not
only the president, but also a customer.
Inside I'm secretly pleased because once again I've got M.T Kranium
jealous. So I’m off to my first shoot, though I’m afraid I’m already
being typecast. The commercial calls for a circumferentially challenged
middle aged man with a slightly off-center bald spot.