Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bud Light "Japanese Restaurant" Commercial

Hey Sportsfans,

As you probably know, I booked a national commercial for Bud Light. Here is just a brief run of how it went down.

The audition was held at Jessica J Casting which shares a space with Alyson Horn on Sycamore Drive in Hollywood. Incidentally, Alyson cast me in a spot by shopping.com a few years ago. So I sign in and pick up the script which is supposed to be spoken in Japanese. Although I am of Japanese decent and have studied Japanese from grade school through College does not necessarily mean I'm fluent. In fact, my japanese sucks... conversationally speaking. I'll admit, my translation sucks and my conversational skills differ dramatically from what I have learned which was very "text bookish" Japanese.

Anywho, I gave it the old college try. I was paired up with another actor named Aaron... Aaron Takahashi. We have a common friend, I discovered and were both pretty clueless with the translation. Also, Aaron T can be seen in a spot for Amped mobile rapping in a bathroom. So, back to the audition, I said "just wing it and do your best". To make a long story longer, I got the call back but I didn't see AT there... bummer.

Callbacks are located in Santa Monica at a production house called @radical.media. I am the first to go in and am paired with another actor Eiji Inouye. We exchanged greeting while waiting to be called in and I ask him what the proper translation to my one line is. He was a huge help and we rehearsed it a few times. The auditions are NOT nerve racking, it's the waiting that makes me nervous. I heard that the reason you get nervous is because you are judging yourself... that could not be more true.

So the call back goes smoothly, other then the fact that I felt totally intimidated by everyone speaking japanese in the waiting area. While waiting, I couldn't help but remember what a friend once told me... It's totally "UNCOOL" to speak another language when others who do not speak the language are present... especially those who are about to hire you like the producer, casting director and assistants. I was laughing inside and kept completely quite.

It must have worked because the next day my agent calls and tells me in on "Avail" which in laymens terms means you're on "Hold" and are one step closer to booking the job. I have been on "Avail" before and NOT booked a job so I would have to spend the entire weekend on pins and needles since it was Friday when I got the call.

So Monday comes around and because I was so burned out by the weekend, I took a nap at 10am. You see, I couldn't sleep so getting up every day at 6am does not bode well for me. Naturally, my cell phone does not receive the call from my agent to call him back... in fact I have 2 messages on my voice mail. DAMN IT! I AM FRANTICALLY TRYING TO GET A SIGNAL! IT'S 2pm and the message was left at 11am 3 HOURS AGO... ARRRGH!!!

I finally get in touch and am briefly scolded about the cell phone thing but the news is naturally good. I'm jumping for joy. You see, as a struggling actor, commercials are the livelyhood of the "Character" actor. Bit parts in film and TV are good for paying your monthly bills like rent and phone but commercial residuals will get you out of debt and help you to live comfortably for a while. It's a years salary, compared to my other job. That's why it's so important to an actors work... to an actor's life.

So the first part is the fitting. At the fitting I meet my counter part in the spot, Kenji Nakamura. Kenji and I talk a bit and I learn over the coarse of the next few days that he gets a lot of work as a Sushi Chef which is what he plays for this spot. He has been in "Fun with Dick and Jane" with Jim Carrey (a comic genious) as a... you guessed it... sushi chef. Anyway, aside from being scolded for eating the clients food (I screw up a lot), everything goes smoothly... until.

I am introduced to Mala, the producer, who approached me and asks me if I'm fluent in Japanese. At which point I do a classically, understated recollection of how my Japanese is sub par. I must have made her nervous, In fact, I'm sure I did as she called me later that evening to ask if I'm sure I can do the part in Japanese and that she did not see my audition but needed some reassurance that I fit the bill. I reassured her, my acting abilities far outweigh my ability to speak the language. An interpreter was hired anyway.

The shoot is located in Atwater Village near Glendale at a sushi restaurant called "Asia Sushi"... how appropriate... the name, that is, not the location. I mean, talk about the obvious name. I guess it's appropriate for Atwater Village. Don't get me wrong, the place is nice but it like calling a taco stand "Mexico Burritos". Anyway the call time is O-Dark-Early... 6:00am Ugggh! I get on set and as always, I'm introduced to all the crew especially Jeff Goodby the director. I find out through the magic of the internet that Jeff created the "Got Milk" campaign and has his own ad agency to which he directs most of his own ideas... an amazing guy. We get some grub, get dressed and are ready to roll by 7:30am.

The whole morning is spent with me and Kenji doing a bunch of close ups and doing the scene in English and Japanese and from every angle possible. You see, only a small bit actually ends up on screeen. There are so many different ways we do this one scene that you never know how it's going to turn out. The scene is me playing a waiter, and Kenji behind the sushi bar when something terribly wrong is discovered. The rest I will leave to the imagination until it airs. By the time we break for lunch at 12pm, I'm pretty much spent but am ready if needed. Naturally we are not needed for the rest of the day but end up staying until 4pm. It's ok, we get paid by the hour, overtime and all.

So heres the kicker, while signing out in the production trailer, I blurt out "So I heard a rumor that this spot is to run during the Superbowl". To which the production assistant says "that's the plan". Woooaaaaa, way cool. So sportsfans, tune in February 4th, 2007 and keep your fingers crossed that you actually see me.

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