Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quiet on the Set!!

1980-ish, I was art directing a photo for an ad i was designing for a hotsie-totsie restaurant. The restaurant owner didn't want to spend the money on paid models, so he called about a dozen of his equally hotsie-totsie friends to be in the ad.

Trying to direct a dozen non-professional models, three servers and a guy preparing Flaming Bananas Foster tableside was a REAL bitch! But everybody was finally arranged exactly the way I wanted them so I spoke the magic word - "SHOOT!"

What happened next ranks right up there with the Michael Jackson/Pepsi Commercial Fiasco - only ours happened years before Michael's ...

As I hollered "SHOOT!" the servers began serving, the fake customers did their best to look real and the guy fixing the Bananas Foster poured the liquor into the hot tableside pan. And it exploded. The pan had gotten too hot while waiting for me to perfect the expressions and positioning ... so the liquor combusted and blew all over the place setting a ficus tree, the carpet and a female customer's hair on fire!

In less than 2 seconds my beautiful photo decayed into carnage! The poor woman's husband was beating on her head, another customer was dousing the tree with his drinking water and the Bananas Foster guy was madly stomping out the carpet fire.

And I'm standing there slack-jawed - HOLY CRAP!!! WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED???!!!

They put out the woman's head and thank God she wasn't burned or injured. Her hair was smoldering when she ran her fingers through it and out came a HUGE clump of blond hair. The place smelled pretty rank too - the kind of smell produced only when fine food and burning human hair are combined.

After taking 20 minutes or so to recompose herself, she brushed her hair the best she could and bravely carried on.

In the final version, if you look real close, she is staring down the Bananas Foster guy with a "Do-it-again-and-you-will-die" look.