Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Husbands and Heifers

Location: Pub in Prahran / Kmart, Eastland
Date: July 2011

One week after I sign up with my new agent she tells me I've got an audition for a TV commercial! They want a real 'mum'. Full of anticipation, I arrive at an office in South Melbourne only to find a herd of yummy mummies crowded into a small room. Is a female cattle call a 'heifer call'? Not that these women are what you'd call 'heifers'. They're all slim and attractive, most are blond and some look like former models. What am I doing here? After a short wait I head off to do a 'chat to camera'. (I've been practising in the car!) I don't get a call back (the audition is for featured roles) but three weeks later I get asked to be 'background' in what turns out to be a Kmart ad involving 1000 real mums!

In between, I do an audition for a CUB commercial. Three of us 'over fifty types' improvise a scene that ends in a toast. This time I don't feel like livestock, which is nice. Anyway, I do okay. In fact, I get the part!

The shoot day starts at 6.30 am and involves several rehearsals and takes of a single shot following a young man walking through a pub. I am partnered with yet another on-screen husband (how many does that make?) to form a group of two couples discussing travel plans over a drink. But that one shot takes hours and hours. And hours. The four of us manage to maintain a level of jocularity both on and off the camera (which, combined with fatigue, occasionally turns to lunacy) but when we are 'wrapped' at 5 pm I am relieved that the trip is fictional! The good thing is, being 'featured extras' our faces will actually be in shot, albeit for only a second or two, and we get paid more than a regular extra. The bad thing is, the commercial is for corporate and internet use, rather than TV. Or is that a good thing?

Two days later I join a heap of 'mums' for the Kmart ad. It's an evening, and the last of a three day shoot. This is the shortest of the three days by far, but we all get paid the same amount ($100 cash, a $100 Kmart voucher and a Kmart goody bag.), which may be why they end up with fifty more mums than anticipated! I befriend another aspiring actor. We are both amused by the women who are excited at the prospect of seeing themselves on TV. Ah, the optimism of the inexperienced. Do they really believe that they will be recognisable within a herd of one hundred and fifty women hoofing it to a Kmart store through a darkly lit shopping centre?

I have no such illusions. Anymore. At the end of the shoot I push my way into the queue like a mad cow, grab my money and my goody bag and head for home, smug in the knowledge that my face will be seen for a whole two seconds on an internet ad.

Amendment 6/8/11: See the ad on
(Not sure for how long!)