Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pytka Part Two

They say ad people are all about shameless self promotion. Last week I did a little self-unpromotion and drew attention to The Worst Commercial I Ever Wrote. This is not something a lot of people would do, but as my wife likes to point out, I'm not easily embarrassed. In fact she says, I lack the embarrassment gene.

With that in mind, I'd like to share another Joe Pytka story.

Apple Computer is now the wealthiest company on the planet. But it wasn't always like that. In 1994 when Steve Jobs was nowhere to be seen, they were struggling to stay afloat. And if you knew anything of the marketing team that was running the company you'd understand why. Some of the most misguided, vision-less careerists I've ever had the misfortune of working with. As one of my former bosses put it, they were guilty of "muddy thinking."

I love that phrase.

For some god-awful reason we were trying to position Apple as a business computer, capable of running spreadsheets, P&L's and other uninspiring crap. The BBDO team created a fake sneaker company and hired Joe Pytka to shoot 10-12 commercials on the set. Some were scripted. Some were improvised.

On the third day of shooting, at 2 AM, we found out one of the actors scheduled for the next day's shoot dropped out. The production team started scrambling. Panic was scheduled to arrive at 2:15. Then Big Joe turned to the team and towards me and said, "Let's have Cheech (that's what he was calling me) do the bit."

I said, "What?"

He said, "Come on, you're a funny guy. It's three lines. A monkey could do it."

I guess that's why Pytka is known as an actor's director.

Long story mercifully shorter, I came in the next morning. Did the whole wardrobe and make up thing, walked onto the set (with jeers from my colleagues) and proceeded to act. I flubbed the lines a couple of times. But so did the actress I was working with. But after 7-8 takes I started getting the hang of it. Pytka shoots with a long lens, so after awhile you forget the camera is even looking at you. Maybe this would be the beginning of a whole new career, I thought.

Then I heard, "Cut." Then I heard the client whispering to the Executive Producer. Then I heard my 28- minute long acting career was over.

Joe pulled me aside and assured me I had done a fine job. He even mentioned casting me in some future spots. Yeah right. He said the client thought the spot would play better with a different actor (the one pictured above.)

Different of course meaning an actor with More Hair and Less Nose.

No comments: