Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Another First - My First TV Commercial

TV Commercial??  Sounds great and all, but why would you post this on your cycling blog you ask?...  It is because my Tallbike got me the gig! LOL!

This past weekend I was picked to be in a TV commercial shoot.  Something that started out from simply replying to an inconspicuous ad and turning out to be an amazing experience.  This is my story of my short-lived journey into the world of Showbiz!

 Last Thursday night, I was scouring Craigslist for bike parts for a bike that I am currently building.  One ad popped out of the screen with the subject that said "Tallbikes Needed!" and with a very brief and vague description saying 'for a film shoot this weekend,  UBC' (University of British Columbia for the non-locals).  I immediately thought that these were UBC film students just out to make a movie and seeing that I had a tallbike I thought 'Hey, that would be fun!'  So I forward the ad to my friend Matt who also had a tallbike and asked him if he would be interested in doing this.  Matt said he was definitely up for it if it worked with his schedule.  So I immediately replied to the ad simply saying "Hey, we have tallbikes!  We'll help you guys out!  Just tell us the time and where to show up!"  Shortly after that, I received a reply from an Andy and he asked if I would send him pictures of our bikes.  I obliged and sent him a picture of both Matt and I riding our tallbikes, and also a video clip of us riding our tallbikes around Vancouver.  I immediately got a reply once again and Andy had asked if I would call him so we can chat.  I gave him a call that night and he asks if I could give him my contact info and possibly some clearer pictures of ourselves.  I gave him my number and told him I would send better pictures once I got off the phone.  That was the end of that conversation.  The following day, while I was at work, I received a call on my phone from a number I didn't recognize so I just let it go to voicemail.  I quickly Googled the number on my display and found it was from a local company that was in the film industry  http://capitalmedia.ca/ .  So now I am fully realizing that these aren't just some UBC students and that this could be something more serious.  It was Andy that had left me a message.  I quickly called him back and as we were talking, he mentions that they liked me and I was the one chosen...  Chosen?  So I guess there were other applicants I assumed.  Well great! Awesome..  now what?  Andy proceeds to tell me that I would be getting paid for my time and also being paid for my bike!  PAID!??  Woohoo!  He mentioned the pay rate for the day and it was something I wasn't expecting...  let's just say I was pretty darned excited!  So I asked Andy, 'what about my friend?  Do you guys need another tallbike?'  Unfortunately, Andy says 'Sorry, we only need you if you're up for it'.  Hell yea, I'm up for it! Sorry Matt!  ;)
So, as we were finishing our conversation, the only instructions I got from Andy was to be at the location at 6am sharp on Sunday, bring multiple change of clothes and a towel.   ...uh, say what?  what have I gotten myself into! lol!  I was told by Andy that I would receive further instructions and a map of the location by email at night's end.  So that was the start of that, I have a film shoot to go to.  And I was going in blindly not knowing what it's all about.
Sunday morning comes along.  4am is what I set my alarm to.  I did not get to sleep until 2am so 2hrs of sleep is all I would have for the whole day. This is going to be interesting.  I had to make sure to get to the location earlier than everyone else because I had to load and unload my tallbike in my car, which it barely fit in, and assemble it at the location. I did not want to be late.
early morning at UBC to unload and assemble the bike
 I arrive at 5:15am and there were already so many people there, the crew setting up, and so many film trucks everywhere.  All the actors and extras were all lined up in one area, and I had no idea where to go.  I started asking questions and someone radio'd in to someone that 'the tallbike guy is here'.  I was immediately sent to wardrobe and they put me in a suit and tophat!!  Woohoo! How cool is that?!  I noticed that I was the only one that was wearing a suit let alone a tophat, AND I was the only one in the set with a bike!  I was surrounded with all these actors and extras that seem to all come from agencies and I was feeling out of place.  But everyone was so cool and nice to me, especially the wardrobe girls.
After everyone had all dressed up, the paperwork starts.  We were given waivers to sign stating that we could not divulge any information to the public of this shoot, and that we are not allowed to take pictures in the set.  So at this point of the blog, technically, I am not allowed to say much more until after the commercial is aired.  Did I just say 'commercial'? oops., Oh yea, I already mentioned that at the beginning of this post.  Well, at least I haven't said what the commercial was for...  actually, I still haven't found out during this time.

So how do I continue this story without divulging too much information....   ?

I'll give it a shot.  I'll try to be as descriptive and as vague as possible.

The shoot went from 6am til 6pm.  It was a very long day.  But it was filled with awesome!  I have never experienced anything like this.  I was smiling ear to ear the entire time.  The production was huge.  It seemed so much money was spent just for this one commercial.  They fed us breakfast and lunch, and not just with little deli sandwiches, but I'm talking roast beef, clams, etc. etc.  The food was sooo good!  The whole day was spent running around with a whole bunch of people, shouting, screaming, getting dirty and having the time of our lives,.. take after take after take.  I had several scenes where the cameras were on me and my bike and had to do multiple takes just to get me in the perfect shot.  I realize that I may be highly visible in this commercial and not just be in the background along with everyone else...  we shall see.

Unfortunately, that may be the only thing I can say on a public forum without breaking my signed contract.  I will have to update this once the commercial is finished and once it's aired.  I have no idea when the commercial will air, or even if it will air here in Canada.  All I know is that they spent a buttload of money doing this commercial so it's not gonna be wasted on a hicktown small city channel.
I will, however, attach a couple of stolen pictures that should not divulge too much information on the shoot..
the tallbike makes its first appearance
Me in a suit and tophat!  How COOL is that?!!

We all ended up being a colourful mess so that was what the towels and change of clothes were for!

As the day came to an end, the actors, the extras, the crew and the whole production had just another day in their pockets.  But for me, it was a truly new and exciting experience, something I will be talking about for a long time.  I am so excited to see the final product once it airs on TV.  I do hope it airs on local TV, if not, I'm sure I will be able to find it on the internet somewhere, some day.  So for everyone else reading this, if you see a TV commercial that has a guy riding a tallbike wearing a suit and tophat, make sure to let me know because chances are, that it is me!

Me and My Shadow.  The end to a great experience.

Just an additional little tidbit, our director for this commercial shoot is Mathias Zenter.  Apparently he is one of the best commercial directors in the world.  A showreel of his works are seen here  https://vimeo.com/30012350 .  Truly amazing work, so I am expecting a great final product coming out of this shoot.


  1. Great job Eli. Hopefully we will see you on tv one day.

    My commercial shoot was not that adventurous and fun. Nor did I get paid. But it was still cool to do so I understand that you would be incredibly excited.

    1. Thanks Sheri! Keep your eyes open!