I’m shooting a pickup truck commercial. It’s a little complicated because we have to drop a ton of bricks into the truck bed. This is pre-digital, so…I’ve cast two actor friends who could use the work. All actors can always use the work. There’s nothing for them to do but watch the bricks fall into the truck, then get in and drive away. The prepping of the bricks is taking time. The agency producer comes over to me.
‘They don’t like Roy.’
‘What do you mean? He was approved.’
‘They told me they don’t like him.’
‘You have to give me a reason. We’re ready to shoot.’
The producer goes back to the clients that are standing in a soundstage next door. We have back-to-back spots, ergo two stages. I look at them through the camera’s long lens. The clients are on a huge cell phone. (remember them?). They look puffy and red-faced. The agency producer speaks with them and they get more puffy and red-faced. The producer trudges across the two stages and approaches me.
‘They say that black guys don’t drive pickups.’
(Roy is black and the agency producer is black…and gay.)
‘They don’t want to use Roy.’
‘You said that before and Roy’s been approved. Tell them I want formal and written notice from them that black guys don’t drive pickups.’
‘I’m not kidding. I want to see the research that black guys don’t drive pickups. Hurry, we’re ready to shoot.’
The black gay producer goes over to the two puffy and redfaced clients and tells them what I’ve asked. It looks like a cartoon with the puffy white guys getting puffier and their faces getting redder. The black and gay producer finally trudges back.
We used Roy.