Ever wondered what it is like to film a commercial?
Follow my adventure when I filmed for Pizza hut Malaysia.
It all starts with the usual casting call.
I got a Whatsapp message from my agent. The standard message would read
My attention is automatically diverted to the shoot date. I need to find out if I am available on the shoot date and if not , whether I can move my plans around.There is no point casting for a commercial if I won't be free on the shoot date.
The budget is important as well because I HAVE CHINESE BLOOD ma. Need to be worth my time! Is the money I'm getting worth the work I need to do? Usually, the shoot will take up an entire day so you better be getting a day's worth of pay.
Most of the time, castings will be held at the production house's office. Some production houses open on weekdays and weekends , and have long hours like 12-6 so it's usually quite easy to attend. Unless the casting is at a place like Selayang or Cheras, I usually attend most of my castings. This time it was at Swag Studio in Kota Damansara.
Inside the casting room
I try to dress up but not too much of a certain style because most of the time, I do not know what role I am casting for. I also try to avoid colours like black, dark blue and white.
When I do know what role I'm casting for however, I dress up accordingly. For example, if I'm going to be a "hip hop friend", I'll wear a snapback and boots or if I know I'm going to be a mom, I'll come in a knee length dress and kitten heels.
After the casting agency has assembled all the talents together, they would shortlist some and present them to the clients. If you are choosen, the casting agency would contact your agent.
Most of the time, the agent will inform you when you are shortlisted and then again when you are confirmed. If you do not hear from anyone, it means that you are not chosen. The decision gets made quite last minute, so even if you do get the job, prepare to hear from your agent maybe a day or two before the fitting date.
The Female cast confirmed for the Pizza Hut Commercial
After scoring the job, the next step is going for fitting.
Fitting is basically where the stylist gets all the talents together and dress them so that all their clothes are working together and compliment one another. This is important because for example, you don't want everyone showing up on the shoot date wearing the same colour, or like different shades of the same colour.
There are also other meticulous details to take into account such as not wearing the colours that would portray the client's competition. For example, during the Pizza Hut fitting, we were not dressed in blue because that would remind the viewers of Dominos Pizza. Also, the featured talents can't wear anything that would overpower what the main talent is wearing.
1/10 of the clothes at fitting. I feel so excited whenever I'm here.
Okay, I exaggerated a bit but it makes it extremely difficult for the stylist to find current clothing that abides by the strict rules of the censorship board. Fabrics that are sheer can't be used and most of the time, the girls need to wear a double layer like a blouse + a jacket just in case.
I really like fitting because it's like going to a big shopping mall where I get to try on clothes that I have never thought about wearing before. Also, I get to see how the stylist mix and match clothing together.
Sometimes, he even shares some good clothing hacks with us. This is also the first time that I get to meet the entire cast so there's a lot of mingling going on.
Fitting usually takes from an hour to 3 hours, depending on how many people needs to be styled. My advice is to bring food and a good book to read.
Not all production houses do fittings though. Sometime the stylist will just text me for my vitals and will bring a couple of options for me on the shoot day.
After you are done with fitting, you have to wait for the shoot date. Call time is always early. This is even if your scene is only to be shot midday. This is because you have to do hair , make up and get into wardrobe before hand. Also, the director would rather you be around way earlier than have to make the entire crew wait for you to come later in the day.
Shoot Day 1
The first day of the Pizza Hut shoot started at 6.30am at a Pizza Hut Restaurant. They wanted to start early so that the filming would not hinder the restaurant's operations. The story board showed that Day 1's shoot was only going to be in one location encompassing of a product shot (the Pizza and the "cooking" scene in the oven) and shots of all the talents eating in the restaurant.
Actual shots from the commercial
The first thing we did was to have breakfast of course. Food was provided throughout the entire day. So whenever I felt hungry, there was always food! All kinds of drinks too. It was catered food but the best part was that they provided an egg station and I love eggs.
After that it was off to hair , makeup and wardrobe. People think it's very glamorous to be on set but what they don't know is that hair and makeup is done at the corner of the Pizza Hut back door where all the staff come to clock in and clock out. I had to change in the Pizza Hut store room where they keep their mops and buckets because no one had keys to the toilet.
The entire cast and I
During shoots, there is a whole lot of waiting. Like really A LOT of waiting. Waiting for your turn for hair and makeup, waiting for the set to be fixed, waiting for the lighting to be set, waiting for them to move the camera from different scenes, waiting for all the props to be ready.
You're just sitting down aimlessly. You can't go anywhere because you're on call. It comes to the point where you and the other cast has nothing else to talk about so everyone just drifts into their own personal thoughts.
We camwhore because there is really nothing else to do
We took videos too. Also because we had nothing else to do
I try to be as aware as I can on set. To be "in the now" and take in as much as I can. I can never be sure if it will be the last commercial I ever work on so I like to be appreciative of every time I am part of one.
What caught my eye during this commercial shoot was that they had an entire team of people to work on the "pretend pizza".Oh, let me tell you about the pretend pizza! Literally every ingredient of the pizza was hand crafted, chosen and made to perfection.
The vegetables were cut into bigger chunky pieces and the sausage "flowers" were each carefully carved by very skilled and patient food artists. The overflowing cheese and mayonnaise that you usually see on advertisements had to be manually pumped in with a pipping bag so that it looked like the pizza was 'jam packed' with it. I think you'll understand better by watching my BTS video below.
To ensure that the cheese would stretched every time we took a piece (like above) or bit into the pizza, there was a station set right next to the film crew. This station was equipped with extra pieces of cheese and an industrial hair dryer that looked like this:
A minute before cameras would start to roll, the team had to add cheese to the pizza and instantly melt it. That also meant that it was really hot whenever we bit into it! I remember the lead girl, Azira, got her lips burnt and had to suck on ice right after the cameras were turned off.
Our pretend food
Other interesting things that happened during shooting:
Day 1 wrapped up at about 2pm. That was considered really early for a shoot. I reached home and went to rest because I knew day 2 was going to be long.
Shoot Day 2
Nothing could prepare me for Day 2. We were told that we were shooting in 3 locations.
The first was Jump Street which got me totally excited. I had always wanted to go but never got to.
We reached close to 10 in the morning and Jump Street was already filled with people.
We had a little station set up for makeup and wardrobe. Passerby's looked on as if we were bunch of weirdos -bringing an ironing board and getting make up done for Jump Street. I regretted not eating breakfast that day.
There was once again lots of waiting, so the team of talents and I decided to play with the trampolines. The coaches at Jump Street taught us many tricks. They had an entire section closed up just for us.
I think we got a little too carried away because after an hour, we had all our energy drained. Like we could no longer carry out conversations with one another. We could not eat as well because the food provided was Nasi Kandar and it was too heavy for us.
We waited for a good 4 hours and when the main talent was done shooting her scene, the group shot took about an hour. Again we had to jump around with whatever little energy we had left. By then of course we were all so tired. We had no food and all our energy was drained. We were done with location one by 2pm. We were all sticky and tired.
Interesting things that happened during the shoot:
We then jammed into one van and headed to Bangsar for Location 2. We slept like babies on the way there.
The second location was a boutique in Bangsar. They only needed 3 girls for this so the other 3 talents got to rest. I was so glad to see that the location had a clean toilet. My eyes were feeling really dry so I decided to take out my contacts while the crew was setting up.
Once again, we got our hair re-done and make-up touched up. One of the crew members bought Subway for us and I just barfed it down. I still felt tired, but at least I had food. I was too exhausted to mingle around set, so I took out a book and started to read to alienate myself.
The director noticed that I was wearing my glasses and asked me to keep them on because I looked cute (Eh. he said one ah. Really! ). Shooting was done really fast this time round. I believe it was because all 3 of us were experienced and knew our angles well.
Actual Shots from the commercial
Interesting things that happened during the shoot:
We took about 15 takes and wrapped up in less than 3 hours which was actually really fast. When the cameras weren't rolling our energy level was at a 1 and then suddenly when we heard "And Action!" we'd all be like "WAW, WOAH, OH, WOW, YES, WOOO, OMG, YA"
We reached our last location at about 7pm. We were shooting at the roof of a building in KL.
The crew was turning the roof into a fashion show/party. I was really amazed at how much some extra lights and coloured cloth can do to the place.
While waiting for the crew to set up, we had out dinner. They had a mini buffet prepared again. There were lots of extra talents hired for this scene so I got to make new friends and mingle. I had 0 energy left in me. I didn't even bother taking any more pictures. The world no longer meant anything to me (Ber-drama)
We started filming at 10 and by then me and the rest of the talents were exhausted. We just wanted to be done with everything and go home! I think most of us were tired to the point of annoyance. I remember the crew snapping at each other and I was getting pretty annoyed at everything as well. The director was trying to ease the tension and made really try hard jokes.
Interesting things that happened during the shoot:
Here's the behind the scenes video I took for you to understand everything better.
And here is the final product
Hope you enjoyed my little "tell all" post.
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