Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Great EA Adventure

Gather 'round my children; grab a stool and a stoop of ale and hear of flying machines, lizards and beasts unknown; insane cab drivers with GPS devices and waitresses and drinking and other vices. Hear of directors and producers and freelance PA's. Hear of actors and actresses and NDA's.

Grandma auditioned for a commercial directed by Errol Morris promoting a new EA game (which we cannot talk about as the looming shadow of contractual obligation and confidentiality agreements stares at us from a readied attack position.) Her audition tape made the final cut, and she was chosen to fly to Orlando to be a part of the wonderful and fascinating realm in advertising known simply as Creative.

This is how it went down...

Honestly, given the odds, we didn't expect a call. The audition tape was all kinds of fucked up, the audio was messy and the levels were too low, and we were emailed by advertising freelancers who had no doubt cast a giant net into the land of gaming to see what kind of crazy ass fish would respond. Grandma was happy to try out (she really does dig Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08, so it wasn't a soul-selling venture) and I was happy to help her.

The call came, as most things do, at Sam's Club- because there's nothing like a gross of Reese Cups and a crate of oatmeal to make a family feel secure in case the apocalypse comes within 72 servings of breakfast. As we walked down the aisle looking at all manner of bulk-priced portraits of Americana Consumerism; admiring the deal one could get on mayonnaise if only one buys it by the gallon, my cell phone rang. An Oregon call.

Grandma's tape was a hit.

They wanted to fly her down to L.A. at once for filming.
"Could she come Tuesday?"
It was Saturday. "Sure! No problem! Great!"
"Wonderful! We'll arrange all the details."

Tuesday became Wednesday. Wednesday became Tuesday through Thursday. There were forms that needed to be filled out. Errol Morris was confirmed as the director. L.A. became Orlando a week from now. Before the end of day I wasn't quite sure what we had gotten ourselves into. Whatever was being filmed, it was being done fast. Travel arrangements were being cemented as soon as was possible, which sometimes wasn't possible until the day before travel. It was exciting.

We still didn't quite know the format of the commercial. Would it be an interview? Was it staged? Scripted? Would she play the game?

"Interrotron" I said simply.
-"Excuse me?" Grandma asked.
"Interrotron!"
-"Interrotron."
"It's the one of the main reasons they would have to hire someone as cool as Errol fucking Morris."
-"Okay."
"Fog of War."
-"Robert McNamara."
"Errol Morris.
-"No shit!"
"Mr. Death."
-"Holocaust Denier Guy."
"Errol Morris.
-"I remember that."
"All these documentaries where the person is looking RIGHT into the camera. He invented that. He directs that. Apple Switch Campaign."
-"Which one?"
"THE one. Girl looks into camera, talks about her PC crashing, Apple Logo."
-"Errol Morris?"
"Goddamn right."

A quick search on Wieden + Kennedy's website showed others. Wikipedia at least let me know I wasn't a complete jackass and hadn't thought of the wrong films. Another search on Moxie Pictures website (who represented Morris to W+K) revealed a snag in our theory. In one commercial, a dude is eating donuts in a workshop. Dude opens up a beer. Dude is conflicted, but only briefly. Voiceover: "Sometimes a MAN gets too hungry to clean his hands properly. The powdered sugar on this donut puts a semi-protective BARRIER between your fingerprint and your nutrition. But even if some grease DOES get on that donut, well.. that's just FLAVOR. To a HIGH LIFE MAN." Miller Logo. Fade to black.

This was more complicated than we thought.

"Well, fuck it," Grandma sighed. "At least it will be an adventure."

At least it will be an adventure.

Goddamn right.


Grandma rescheduled her doctor's appointments for that week. Her Coumadin levels check and a pain that flared up in her knee would wait until she got back. She packed what medication she would need for the two nights in Florida, a few changes of clothes and some mints.

I packed a PSP, both Kill Bill movies on UMD, my toothbrush, and a camera that I wouldn't get a chance to use.

[to be continued...]

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