A Day as a Movie Star!
Diversity is what I wanted from my job in 2008 and that is certainly what I have got. On Sunday I was bashing around the Solent with a fantastic team competing in the Spring Series, the next day I was driving though some of the most stunning scenery that I have ever seen on my way to one of Britain’s most extreme outposts and today I am going to be a movie star!
Well, I guess a movie star may be a slight exaggeration! My Â£100.00 ‘extra’s’ fee is fairly mediocre compared to the Â£20m fee that Brad Pit demands per movie and fairly indicative of the inconsequential role that I will be playing, although I am sure he is not Â£20m better looking than me! The sailing team were asked to put the hoods up on their wet weather clothing so as not be recognised in the shots. The reason given was that we would have to be paid considerably more if our faces were recognisable; we all took it as a polite way of telling us that we were not good looking enough to become real movie stars. However this was going to be a new experience for me and is all quite exciting.
Volvo Cars are producing a new TV commercial to promote their new special edition XC90 4WD in conjunction with the Volvo Ocean Race, hence Sailing Logic’s involvement. Sailing Logic was commissioned to supply a Volvo 60 yacht in the Isle of Skye for the commercial and here I am, ready to make my acting debut!
The commercial has been titled ‘Dark and Stormy.’ Therefore it was understandable when the art directors expressed displeasure at the forecast for the filming of the Volvo 60 race yacht. It was to be an untypical, beautiful sunny day with little wind on the Isle of Skye, the island famous for having four seasons in a day! Not ideal. One of the things that really impressed me with the production team was the structure and organisation. Richard, the producer commented ‘this is the only way we can function. When there is a team of over 100 personnel it is very important to have a very clear and structured brief that is adhered to at all costs. It simply costs too much to deviate from this slightly. Everything has been thought of right down to who is responsible to ensure that there is sufficient coffee on the set’
It very quickly became clear to me why the marine industry cannot operate with such a rigid brief. Sailing depends greatly on the unreliable and unpredictable weather! To this end plans have to remain fluid. In the yachting industry we fully appreciate this but trying to make land loving film producers and airy fairy art directors understand this is an impossible task. They have their brief and meticulously structured programme that must be followed. When a team of over 100 people are involved in six different locations over a five day period it would simply be too difficult to alter the plans, even slightly.
This is a little bit frustrating when the forecast for two days later would be perfect for the brief (30 knots of wind and rain)! So we quietly slipped the mooring buoy, as planned at 0500 and headed out to Neist Point for the morning’s filming, under Jane’s Lighthouse. Surprisingly there was more wind than anticipated which would provide enough to fully power up our awesome ocean racing machine. For the next three hours there was a real buzz as the helicopter flew over head just metres away from us and filming boats circled around us capturing the necessary footage. The conditions were far from ideal to achieve exactly what they needed but Richard did point out that we would hardly recognise what had been filmed by the time the editing team had added there special effects and carefully manipulated the footage.
Jane, my old friend who I am staying with in the lighthouse has always said she has dreamed of the day that I would bring a boat and dock it on the landing jetty under the cliffs of her lighthouse. Whilst we did not dock the multi million pound ocean racing yacht at the bottom of the cliffs, Jane did concede that bringing a helicopter, support boats, a film crew and a famous race yacht far exceeded her expectations and certainly fulfilled her unusual dream!
Next it was back to land where I had the wonderful opportunity to watch the production team in full flow filming the XC90 4WD. I was amazed to see the size of the team required and just stood in complete awe of what was going on. ‘All of this for a 60 second TV commercial’ I quietly thought to myself. One of the producers pointed out to me that a TV commercial costs 10 times more to produce than a Hollywood movie per frame! Quite staggering, but I could see why.
The stress levels on set are extremely high and it surprised me the way people spoke to each other. Directors were barking orders, producers demanding refreshments, runners ensured everything was in the right place at the right time, actors received the wrath of the art director for failing to deliver the correct look or timing and the technical team always seemed on edge, wary of the vast amounts of money being swallowed up every second of the day. Time is money on set and lots of it. The slightest delay was dealt with in a scathing and harsh way. No hiccup was tolerated, no delay was acceptable.
Suddenly, a disgruntled and irate director called time out for lunch. Several mini buses transcended on the set to shuttle the entire team to the local community centre for a superb lunch. Everyone congratulated each other for a job well done, the director patted actors on the back and the team looked at ease as the conversation about a great mornings filming echoed around the double decker bus that had been converted into a restaurant. A complete contrast to what was happening on set where each member of the production team seemed to take it in turn to be chastised for the most negligible delay or smallest setback.
Some of you may think this sounds familiar! I guess it is not dissimilar to a day out on the water racing around the cans! I will remember what I thought about that art director when the kite takes three seconds longer to hoist than I had hoped for or the genoa is marginally over trimmed coming out of a tack! Hopefully my team will remind me of this soon after the start of the race, if they dare!