My First Time On a TV Commercial Shoot / by Jason Joseph

1993 Sears TV Commercial Featuring Bob Vila and the Sears Weatherbeater Line of Paints.

I worked on the set of this commercial for a week. It was filmed on location at the Thomas Alva Edison winter home in Fort Myers Florida for Sears Weatherbeater paints.

Good times...I still remember the sound of the film being riped through a high speed camera at over 100 frames per second, for the slow motion shot of the paint cans being carried. And I can tell you where I was off frame of each of these shots. But what I remember most was the impression I made. It was important to me as it was my first job of this caliber, and I was about to work in a field that impressed me immensely. 
The director asked for me to be at an arms reach after the first half a day of shooting.

He later complimented me on the last day in front of the team of writers. A group of fellas from Chicago. He said.. pointing to me... "And you...you said you want to work in still photography? And this was your first TV production...?" I nodded.. and smiled "Yes, thats right"

"Well..." he continued..."What is it I say about a newspaper delivery boy?"  he asked the writers.

"Ah, you say, give me a young fella who can wake up every day at 5 am to do that job over a film school graduate any day, and I'll give you someone who will succeed in this business"

"Yes, thats right he continued... And you my friend have an excellent work ethic, you anticipate everyones needs and had perfect set etiquette, and all this while this being your first time doing this? You are a natural and if you decide you want to work in this industry over photography, you will have a long successful career, one in which you will literally be able to choose whatever it is you wish to do. It was a pleasure working with you young man."

I thanked him.. and walked away.. with a smile on my face a mile wide.

The writers caught up to me and told me that they had worked with him for over ten years and they very rarely saw him give anyone public praise, and that I should be very proud of myself.

I was, and still am.

You see... I went in to that gig, not knowing anything about it. All I knew was I loved being around creativity. I loved film, photography and working as a team...when it was a team of consummate professionals who were positive and driven to overcome and produce at all costs. Working as a photographers assistant had taught me this.  I'd hopped that If I simply treated it as the blessing that it was., it would be enough to carry me through. And a blessing it was, as I'd been moved from NYC to Florida against my will, (Overprotective mother ) and it was the west coast of Florida...which meant it was the polar opposite of the east coast not just logistically, but in the sense that work in photography and film on this coast was rare. Unlike the bustling of the industry taking place across the peninsula. So to have a job in any creative field, let alone one on the set of a national TV commercial was the epitome of a blessing if ever there was one. This was a very big deal for me, and I had no idea what to expect and wanted to do the best job possible. 

Lots has changed since then....but one thing remains the same. I still show up to every day in the creative field with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the opportunity to be doing what I love, and I love it just as much as ever.

A special shout out to my long time friend photographer/cinematographer Flip Minot, whom I was assisting for back then and who got me the gig on this shoot working as a production assistant under his brother Alan Minot's team. A team which...though I had no experience, was quickly told to stay by the directors with my radio on, as the other guys weren't to be given the level of trust I had somehow earned.
Funny, because the director just a half hour later as we were prepping for an interior shot, when being check on by Alan if anything was needed before rolling for this next shot replied..."No...no ...we are good. But wait...where is that Italian kid? Can we just have him nearby, If I need anything I'd like him on hand." Alan fired back "I don't have eyes on him but will send him right over as..." and at that moment.... I poked my head around the corner of the room the director was in and turned up the volume on my walkie talkie...I'd had it turned down as there were others with radios nearby, and no need to have mine fire up feedback. And Alan's voice now came through both our radios as he continued "...soon as I locate him."
The director laughed, smiled and told Alan not to bother, this kid is on the money.

Show up, anticipate, observe, be seen not hear, work hard, be polite, be positive, be grateful....wash lather repeat.


And hey Flip, if you're reading this...thank you for all the opportunities, and for all the advice, and support. But mostly for showing me how a true pro conducts themselves.