From Snow to Snow:
The night before we were set to begin filming, St. Louis was dumped with five inches of snow. The snow allowed us to see the crew, Californians, outside of their natural habitat. They were bundled up in the most hardcore winter gear they could find – huge coats, boots, and gloves. Give them credit, they weren’t going to let a little snow stop them. Meanwhile, we were wearing jeans, light jackets, and our tennis shoes. My brother David was actually just wearing a t-shirt and had to be convinced to put on a jacket so it didn’t look ridiculous with him traipsing around in the snow half-naked.
Before any of the shooting started, I promised myself not to do anything dumb. Our first shot was in our driveway. The Explorer was parked, and they need shots of us piling into the car. All we had to do was walk from the front door to the Explorer, put our bags in the back, then get in the car. Brad Pitt does these scenes in his sleep. I was mentally prepared, physically prepared, and prepared for the praise from the crew. They were set up with multiple cameras all over the driveway. Action was called and I led my brothers out into the snow and stardom. We got to the Explorer and I went to open the back hatch. Locked. Smoothly, I went for the key in my pocket. Not there. “Uhh, cut please.”
It was during this first scene that I was introduced to a moviemaking term: Hurry up and wait. I was unclear of the meaning until about the 8th time I had to re-do the “putting on my seatbelt” scene. The crew wanted me to hurry up and finish shooting at our house so they could film us picking up everyone else before the natural lighting change, ruining the final film’s continuity. Instead, it was seatbelt on, seat belt off, on, off, going nowhere fast. I was pulling an Austin Powers up and down our street.
Lessons in Film School and High School
After we were done shooting the scene at our place, we went around filming the picking up of our buddies. After picking up Nitin, we headed to Tim’s house. It was here I had another shining moment in cinematography. There was a camera man in the front passenger seat while I was driving the car up Tim’s street. The cameraman was filming the front door opening and Tim coming out, so he needed a clear shot out of the passenger side window. No big deal, I pull up and figure this one is going to get done quickly. Until he says,
“Go back and start over.”
“You parked in front of the mailbox.”
“I’m filming a mailbox.”
“Go back and start over.”
“You parked next to a car. I’m filming a…”
“Yea, yea, yea I get it.”
These guys were good, but apparently they couldn’t film through mailboxes and cars. Who knew?
Shane was the last to be picked up, and I was feeling pretty cool with my 15 minutes of fame at this point. It’s hard not to when you’ve got a film crew with you, traveling in a convoy of brand new Fords. We pull up to Shane’s house, and I noticed someone in the next yard over doing yard work in 5 inches of snow and a nasty rain/snow mix still coming down. Shane said the guy dropped out of college and didn’t have a job, so his parents made him do yard work all day.
I look at the guy closer. And then I recognize him as a kid from my high school class. Now, I definitely wasn’t the most popular kid in school, but I wasn’t at the bottom of the food chain by any means. I played hockey and had some friends, and that was enough to keep the predators off my back. We all had the kid in high school who thought they were the best thing to walk the halls, and he was the Regina George from Mean Girls. He was relentless to me, although he never called me a jungle freak that was a lot less hot than he was. Wouldn’t you know it, there he was, picking up sticks in his parents yard at 8a.m. in a snowstorm; I’m starring in a Ford commercial. As we go to leave, I give a honk and wave. Did he know what was going on? Highly unlikely. Did it satisfy the ghosts of my high school self? Absolutely.
The Loneliest Interstate
If you’ve even taken a geography class, you know that you have to drive through Iowa to get from Missouri to Minnesota. Now car rides tend to be boring in the first place. When you throw Iowa into the mix, things can get … worse. We took this time to shoot some dialogue, so we had a full camera crew in the Explorer along with all of us except for my brother Tim, who was sleeping in one of the other cars. For those doing the math in their heads, yes, it was crowded. The only seat that didn’t have any personal bubble infractions was my driver’s seat. That’s one of the perks of using social media more than your brothers.
The Iowa Game
Iowa owns a unique part of American roadtrip history. You won’t find it in a history book, but ask anyone that’s driven through it and they’ll tell you: Iowa is where all mindless roadtrip games are born, because, well, you have to do something. Part of hockey culture is coming up with nicknames that border on ridiculous. NHL teams are stocked with players with great nicknames, such as the Bulin Wall (Nikolai Khabibulin), Jovocop (Ed Jovanovski), and Dig Nasty (Matt D’Agostini).
It all started when we noticed one member of the film crew bore a beyond-striking resemblance to a certain Detroit Redwing. And we’re not talking about an “Eh, he could pull it off” resemblance– this was a walking Henrik Zetterberg body double that had never touched a hockey stick in his life. Devin, his given name, had never even heard of Henrik Zetterberg, so we pulled up a picture of him. His response? “Holy crap! It’s me!” Thus, Zetts was born. And the nicknames didn’t stop there.
- Puff Daddy – Director and head guy in charge, Thomas Campbell. Known for his large puffy coat to keep the cold at bay. At one point, while annoying him about something, he grew tired of it and told us to stop because, “You saw what I did to 2Pac.”
- Chilly – Former professional skateboarder turned professional cameraman. Famous for his cool and calm demeanor. When his girlfriend referred to him as Chilly in a text, we knew we had hit big time.
- Fuzzy Mike – The sound man, who at all times had a large boom with a fuzzy cover on the microphone to pick up sounds better. When we learned his name, Mike, the Fuzzy Mic moniker came seconds later.
- Iceman – A member of the film crew who looked exactly like Val Kilmer’s Iceman from Top Gun, even down to the hair. When we asked if he knew he had nailed the look he responded, “It was intentional.”
We eventually received our own nickname, The Mighty Ducks. We never did figure out if we were the Mighty Ducks when they were terrible or the Mighty Ducks when they were awesome. We just hoped they weren’t making Emilio Estevez jokes at our expense.
“Is This an Hourly Hotel?”
Our goal was to stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the night. Now, being that I won this whole thing (or more accurately, was the only one of our group who was over 25), I had to drive our Explorer the whole time. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I had just driven in from Dallas to St. Louis the day before. That’s 800+ miles of behind-the-wheel time in just a day and a half. Members of the film crew offered to drive, butI’m an American male and vehemently declared my manliness by refusing such help. By the time we hit Cedar Rapids I was walking around like I was still clutching a steering wheel. We check into our hotel at midnight. As we’re checking in, the producer begins telling us various important things. I was already asleep standing in the lobby I was so tired. I only caught the tail end of what she was saying, which consisted of, “We’re finishing the drive to Minnesota early, we’re leaving at 4 a.m.” After I clarified that, yes, we were checking into a hotel for 4 hours and then checking out, I wondered if we got some sort of special deal for only being there for four hours. That morning I ruined any chance of that as I walked out with the tiny boxes of cereal in every pocket I could find. Toucan Sam looks real good at 4am.
The boys hit the ice to do what they love in Part 3. Find out more and stay up to date on the series by following WrightIMC on Twitter, or you can head over to Ford Explorer and WrightIMC’s Facebook page.