Hole-y heck! My mug is back (or still) on TV.
Hole-y heck! My mug is back (or still) on TV.
On the morning of December 4, 2016 I got a phone call at 8:30 AM telling me I booked a commercial that was shooting in Santiago, Chile and my flight was leaving at 7 AM the next day.
Exciting? Yes. Did I get all my shit together? No. Tomorrow a friend of mine is flying to Chile to shoot a commercial (lucky duck), so I thought I’d share some of my insights on traveling and working in there so others can learn from my experience of last minute work travel and shooting a non-union commercial abroad.
Before you get yourself into this situation here’s what you need to have:
Do Some Research:
You are going to a new country. If you can take a few minutes to research the city you’re going to, do it, even if it’s on your five hour layover in the Dallas Fort Worth airport. Check to see if there are any travel advisories. Worried about Zika virus? Don’t! It’s not in Chile.
I found Santiago, Chile to be a modern city with a European feel. This is likely because I haven’t traveled to South America before and have mostly traveled in Europe and the only other Spanish speaking country I’ve been to was Spain. The people are friendly but most do not speak english. I had a funny relationship with my driver who didn’t speak a word of english but kept speaking to me in spanish, like I was going to magically pick it up over the five days I was there. Sorry Julio, I let you down.
Shooting the Commercial:
Nearly everyone on the production spoke english. The director and the DP were American. The same goes for the agency and the client. The crew were locals and they were pretty much all bilingual.
I had a great experience on set but I have heard from other actors I know that sometimes these non-union commercials shot outside of North America can ask actors to do some things they wouldn’t ask you to do at home – like carry a 50+ lbs fridge on your back while walking down stairs in heels (ya, that happened). Remember to speak up if you ever feel uncomfortable.
One of the things that excited me the most was how beautifully the table was set when we broke for lunch. There was a tablecloth and cutlery was set out; it felt so much more civilized than the plastic table with fold up chairs I’ve normally used on set.
What to Bring:
Pack light. You’re only going for a few days.
Here’s what I brought: two t-shirts, one pair of jeans, yoga pants (to wear on the plane, so I could be comfortable and “stylish”), a sweater, a denim, top, a dress, a skirt, a jacket (for Vancouver and Santiago weather – I chose my vegan ‘leather’ jacket), underwear (of course), a swimsuit (sadly I never used it), a gym top, a pair of sandals (wishful thinking about going to the beach – which I did use!), a pair of running shoes (wishful thinking about a hotel gym), and ankle booties. I put all of that plus my toiletries in my carry-on.
In my “personal bag” I always have the following for airplane travel:
Antibacterial wipes because they do not wipe down the arm rests, screen, seat belt etc. Gross.
EmergenC – It might be the placebo effect working but I always pour a package into my water bottle and drink it before my flight.
Nasal Spray – I keep flying with head colds and it hurts so much. Imagine the feeling of someone shoving a screwdriver into your ear. My doctor suggested I get some decongestant nasal spray, which was something I never tried before and it helped almost instantly. Also putting a hot compress outside of your ear will help to get things moving but that’s hard to do on a plane.
Lotion – I always get so dry on airplanes so I like to travel with heavy hand cream. Remember to keep it under 100 ml (or 3.4 oz) otherwise the TSA will take it away and you’ll be sad.
Water bottle – If you’re traveling in North America (except Flint, Michigan) the tap water is fine. Fill up your bottle once you’re through security. It’s important to stay hydrated and bottled water is a sham: it has less regulations than tap water and it’s horrible for the environment. Seriously, there’s no reason to buy bottled water.* Stop doing it. Please.
Except, I’m a jerkface. Once I had settled in my hotel room in Chile I brought a 6 litre bottle from the grocery store nearby because I didn’t want to risk getting the squirts.
Zopiclone – I suffer from insomnia and I’m so thankful to have discovered this magic pill. I was able to get a few hours sleep on the plane and a restful sleep the first night because of my little blue Z. I also brought melatonin to take at my new bedtime in Santiago. I think taking it helped with my jet lag.
Vega All In One – I mostly eat vegetarian and I wasn’t sure what the food situation would be so I brought a mason jar to use as a shaker and some of my favorite meal replacement/ protein powder in a plastic bag.
Plus a book and notepad, but I hardly leave my house without those supplies anyway.
Things To Do Before You Leave:
I lucked out and had two and a half free days to explore the city. Here are some of the highlights.
Most of all have fun and enjoy how fortunate you are to be able to do this!
Everyone else get ready. The advertising agency I worked with said they’re likely going to keep booking non-union actors from Vancouver and shooting in Chile because it worked out so well.
A few weeks ago my father emailed me to say that he was watching SNL and he saw me on TV. The Edible Arrangement commercial I was in aired during the first commercial break. The first commercial. Ya know, the one that’s sometimes a fake commercial. Well, that’s when this aired. So, in my proud father’s eyes I was on SNL. Kinda.
This is a photo taken by Margret Nyfors of the cast of Rookie Night at Vancouver Theatre Sports a few weeks ago. Can you spot me? Yup, I’m the one in blue in a weird pose. I was dancing. I’m always dancing.
I’m performing in this Sunday’s show – April 13, 7:30pm, $8.
I can’t guarantee I’ll be funny, but I can guarantee I’ll be the best dancer on stage. If you can’t spot me by my smooth moves I’m likely to be the only person wearing any colour besides black or grey.
I recently went to London, England and reconnected with some lovely people there. One of those people is my friend Kim. We made this short film based on a poem I wrote.
I hope you enjoy it. I look very different. Thank goodness my hair finally grew out.
I did this commercial for the Museum of Vancouver. You should really check that place out.
This is the 15 second spot for this commercial. I hear there’s longer ones to come, so follow the MOV online and stay tunes. Or… I’ll probably let you know about them.