I had the opportunity last week to be part of my very first commercial/infomercial. I can't say that was ever really high on my list of things to do, but it was pretty interesting to be a part and see how it's done. It was not like Day 4 on the Elite Series, when you have a cameraman in the boat with you. On those days, the tape never stops rolling and you don't get to retake a shot. What you get is what you see on Day 4.
The subject of the commercial: BassCat boats.
The location: Smith Lake in northern Alabama. Beautiful place to film a boat, or any outdoor, commercial.
The cast of characters: Yours Truly as K-Pink and Marty Stone, aka Mr. Clean, aka the King of Sheen.
Film by Mark Maness, aka Chunky-M, the chief video dude for the Strike King Pro Team Journal, among other things.
Technical support: Mike Redfern, aka Black Lung.
Still photography: Chris Brown of Chris Brown Creative.
Executive Producer, Head Cat, and Chief Boat Wiper: Rick Pierce. Now you have to understand that any production with R. Pierce is just that, a production. It's hard to drive across town for lunch without having an adventure along the way. There is never a dull moment.
The fun started on Monday afternoon when I pulled up to the registration house at Smith Lake Park to check in for our cabins. The lady behind the desk was apologizing profusely to a "Mr. Pierce" for some "inconvenience". This can't be good. She said she would call him back in a few minutes. She hung up the phone and dialed another number.
"Holiday Inn Express? Are you located at the 304 exit? No? Thank you."
She hung up and dialed again.
"Econo Lodge? Are you located at the 304 exit? Do you have any rooms available for tonight?"
Definitely not good. Sounds like the cabin crew is out.
The next call is to "Mr. Pierce" during which she apologized again and gave him the phone number for the Econo Lodge at the 304 exit.
"Can I help you?"
"Was that Mr. Pierce on the phone Mr. Rick Pierce?"
"Yes it was. Seems that someone forgot to tell him that we don't supply linens for our cabins."
The adventure begins.
So I'm hugged up at the Econo Lodge at the 304 exit. Room 127. It's okay. I've stayed in a lot worse, though not recently. Of course this from a man who has spent over 150 nights on the road and only five of those in a hotel and those five were at the Hyatt Regency, no less. What do I know about hotels anymore?
The first of the crew to arrive is Black Lung. I call him Black Lung because he smokes. Cigarettes. A lot. We sat in room 127, until he lit one up, then we moved to the parking lot. Blackie and I sit, chat, and solve some of the world's problems. Chunky-M rolled up in his van and unloaded a ton of camera equipment into room 126. Mr. Clean, the King of Sheen, is next on the scene. We all have a sit down and solve a few more of the world's problems. The Head Cat showed up and we head out for some grub. It's 19:45 hours on Monday evening.
Over a luscious spread at the local Ryan's, we formulate our plans for the next day. Since I'm at the bottom of the food chain, I speak only when spoken to. I know that's hard to believe, but hey, I'm a virgin when it comes to this commercial stuff. This is a little different from me fishing my ass off while Wes the Camera Stud holds up a 25 pound hunk of plastic and aluminum on his shoulder while praying to some higher power that he gets "the shot" when the moment of truth arrives. This actually involves a little planning — not necessarily a script, but just some direction on what the Exec Pro wants to see on the tape at the end of the day.
The Head Cat laid out his idea of what he wants to see in the commercial; some low-light, slick water, maybe some fog, running shots at first light, WOT (of course). How can you have a bass boat commercial without showing a boat hauling the mail? You can't, so we do it. Next on the list are some bullet points on what we, Mr. Clean and I, like about a BassCat. How long is this? 30 seconds? Ain't gonna fit.
The early a.m., fog, slick water part of the plan calls for an early wake-up. That is something I haven't done for a while. 05:00 to be exact. I was showered and in the parking lot and ready to roll at 05:45. Chris Brown (no aka, just Chris B.) has joined us. He pulled in late the previous evening after a coaching stint for a girl's soccer team. They won. We are at the Hardees next door for biscuits at 0550. Headed to the pond at 06:25. We had a little delay in the parking lot of the Hardees. We had to stand around and gab like a bunch of old ladies for some reason.
We pulled up to the ramp at Smith Lake Park at 06:40. Got fog? Like a London Mackinac. I'm not sure I can see the opposite side of the creek and it can't be over 150 yards across. Not good for running shots.
We waited. We wiped off the boats. We waited some more. Chunky-M said we should get some footage of the boats in the water while the light is low and the fog is thick. We dropped the hulls in the water. Getting Chunky's footage took all of 10 minutes. So we waited some more.
At 08:15, we decided to idle out around the corner and see if the fog has lifted. It hadn't. We sat in the fog in the middle of the lake for a while. It lifted a little. We idled further out into the lake. We sat some more.
Finally at 09:30, we're hooked up, on pad, and filming. The first run was pretty bad. Mr. Clean and Chunky are in Clean's boat chasing me in a new Puma FTD that is smokin' fast. Halfway through the run, I looked at the digital speed readout on the GPS and it reads 81.4. Holy Felines, Batman! Is that American miles per hour? Is there an exchange rate here? No wonder I ran off and left the chase boat.
After a couple of stabs, we got our timing down where I'm staying out of it enough for Clean and Chunky to keep up with me while keeping the hull flying and looking good. I learned while shooting stills earlier in the year for the BassCat website and 2009 catalog that keeping a boat running across the water at speeds in the mid- 70's while another boat runs beside you less than 20 feet away is not an easy task. The photos and video make it look like a piece of cake. It's not. Don't try this at home. I have no idea how Chunky-M gets any decent shots as we're rocketing across the lake that fast. Dude must be the Human Tripod or something.
11:00 hours and Chunky finally got some footage of both Clean and I and both of the hulls we brought to film. We headed for the ramp to do the face stuff and the interior shots of the boats. The face time part of the commercial consists of some quick bits on what we like about BassCat Boats. No make-up. No script. No gaffers or grips. Just Clean and I talking boats. Some of the footage will be used for commercials on ESPN2 next season and part will be used to create a 5 minute DVD for BassCat dealers to use in their stores and at boat shows. Pretty cool.
You'll have to check it out to see what Mr. Clean and I like about the boats. Keep this in mind when you see me; I screwed up not necessarily every time I opened my mouth, but I did have several takes. Chunky will probably have to do some serious cutting and pasting to make me sound good.
In the middle of the face time there was the concrete saw. The concrete saw that never ends. Seems that the crew at Cullman County Parks picked that day to demo the old swimming pool. Had the concrete saw and the jack hammer running a few hundred yards from the pavilion we had pulled up next to in the park. Dude could hold that saw for a long time, too. Nothing like a little background filler. We worked around it though.
By 14:30 hours Chunky had shot 30 minutes of video on BassCat Boats. It was a wrap. It should be interesting to see how it all pieces together. I'd been up since 05:00 and still had a six-hour drive to Mayflower. The biscuit from Hardees at 06:00 is long gone. Oh the joys of stardom in the bass fishing world.
For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.