31 Years in the Film Business

Feb 5, 2024

For some odd reason I chose to spend most of my career in the film business. I started off with a partner and we produced TV spots.  At the onset, we got lucky and landed a job from J. Walter Thompson.  They had a new client who owned a radio station in Washington, DC.  And, they had  a new disc jockey – Howard Stern. Since Howard was an early “Shock Jock DJ”  it wasn’t too hard to find stories to tell about this radio character. But, the trick was to be able to tell them in 10 second commercials.

One spot featured young Howard in Elementary School, another as if he was admitted to a Psych Ward in a hospital .. Well, let me show them to you ….

They were all sight gags and one was funnier than the other.

I remember going to the casting session to interview actors.  It was 1981.  We had just started our business.  I couldn’t stop laughing all day.  And, that’s when I said to myself .. “This is a really funny way to make a living.”

That package of spots set us off on a path of being known as the guys who produce funny TV spots.  So, we followed this job with spots for Hop-In Stores, DC Lottery, Pimlico Race Track, The Washington Times, Northern Neck Ginger Ale,, EZ Roller Paint Brushes, Cub Cadet Lawn Tractors and on and on. One job was funnier than the other.

One time we were filming a spot for Stihl ChainSaws.  We were up in the Cascade Mountains planning to cut down a redwood tree with a consumer chain saw (we actually had to bring a Notary Public with us to prove this was possible).  Once we drove up to the location from Seattle we had a bit of a hike in front of us.  And, the hiking required us to climb over some seriously wide trees that were already cut down blocking the pathway.  As we climbed over the 2nd or 3rd cut tree one of our crew members said, “If I knew about this hike in advance I would have quoted you for our Sherpa Services’ ‘.

In order to capture the tree falling down, we set up three cameras.  I was operating the third camera. Before we start rolling the professional logger tells us that once these tall trees hit the ground an occasional branch will go flying at a very high rate of speed in any direction.  “So be careful.”  We start rolling.  The tree fell.  I was situated low to the ground.  And, just as he said, a branch came whizzing by about 50 feet from our location.  Oh boy, that was scary.

The TV spots led to longer format films for meetings and public relations for clients such as: CSX Corporation, The Greenbrier Hotel, The NutraSweet Company, and recruitment videos for private schools and colleges.

It was, indeed, a fun way to make a living.