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The Chevron shoot

A set this large is highly unusual. The plans designate an area large enough to park two tractor-trailers end to end and twice as wide. The walls and flooring are to be maintained in an absolute white, a pristine snowflake white. There is no tolerance for color variation so we must obtain several five gallon buckets marked with the exact same dye lot.

The lighting is hot and the glare severe as it ricochets from floor to wall and back again. Stark and reflective, so much so that the crew must wear sun glasses even though outside the dreary Vancouver winter trudges under leaden skies.

All the crew wear booties covering their shoes. The lighting crew, the camera men, the grips, even the actors before the scene are uniformly clad as if their jobs were to remove dust by dry skating across the floor and not to shoot a commercial. Everyone is issued a single pair of light slip on cotton ankle socks with rubberized bottoms, like those issued to hospital patients to prevent slippage on damp commercial tile.

The director is impatient. Waiting for paint to dry is a taxing job. A boring one.

The set designer reads off the drying instructions from the can.

“It says wait two to four hours between coats.”

They wait. They wait like construction workers on a mandatory break. Standing around with no place to go, nothing to do but stand and stare at the walls. The men stare at each other. Very few words are exchanged by necessity not as a means of conversation or to pass the time. The crew hovers stagnant and expectant. Waiting.

When the all clear is given a tanker truck is driven onto the set. The blue and red chevron logo, two bent bars like an inverted corporals stripes on the trucks side are the only graphics indeed the only color in the room.

An actor walks onto the set, the camera rolls for two minutes and the truck drives away leaving black smudges and footprints on the pristine floors surface. 

“We need the painting crew.” Calls out the set designer.

The paint buckets are carried in and placed on rubberized mats. The painters clean and prep the stained set and touch up the scuffed floorboards, applying another layer of fresh white paint.

Addressing the lighting crew, “Hey can we get those lights over here? Maybe we can speed the drying time and not sit here for another two hours for the next shoot.” the director says.

At the end of the day, the Chevron required five takes. Five two minute clips of film. Ten minutes to be synthesized into a 30 second commercial. Ten hours of waiting between clips.

Some people think that the film industry is glamorous. They’ve never filmed a commercial. 

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