Sunday, October 15, 2006

Time Space Warp

“Está quente”.

“I’m sorry?”

It’s Portuguese for what you said. “It’s hot”.

Turning around, I came face to face to where the voice was coming from, and found a 5-foot-11 woman staring at me, applying sunscreen on her long arms. “I’m being attacked by a man-eating Amazon!” My imagination was shooting through the roof. The fact that she was scantily clad in gypsy clothing didn’t help. But her face was too gentle, too beautiful, and too charming to be hostile. In fact, she looked more like a contestant of Project Runway. I took a gulp out of the mineral water I was holding and rubbed my eyes. And then I remembered.

Standing there in the desert, looking to an endless horizon of sand and mirage, sweating profusely under the scorching heat of the sun, I remembered where I was.

I was in a shoot. A location shoot far from where I imagined. The sand on my feet were actually lahar, the location was actually in Zambales, and the woman standing beside me with a quizzical look on her face was actually Isabella, a Brazilian model we flew in for a commercial.

“You better rub this in your body or you will get burned”, Isabella said with a thick accent, offering me her sun block. I didn’t decline.

4 and a half hours ago I was waiting for the driver to arrive while playing Tiger Woods: PGA Tour 2007 on my Playstation. I didn’t sleep. It was 3 am and the van could be arriving any minute. It arrived after 30. 4 more hours of travel and I found myself chatting with a Brazilian bombshell beside a Bedouin camp in the middle of the desert. Surreal. But then again, that’s how it is in Advertising.

Isabella, as I found out, was really friendly. Heck, she nearly told me her whole life story. She told me she started modeling at the age of 12, have done a lot of commercials in Brazil, London and Germany, and that it’s her first time in Asia. She seemed to enjoy the sun. I can tell, because I was slowly backing off one step at a time under the shade of a make-shift Bedouin camp while she didn’t budge. Deep inside, I was fighting the urge to warn her of dehydration and skin cancer, but then I realized that it’s only a two-day shoot. Besides, if they can survive a lifetime of tropical heat in Brazil, they can surely survive 16 hours of heat wave, her gorgeously tanned skin assuring me that she can take it.

A couple of minutes later, the director, a middle-aged Brit yelled. Time to grind. Wearing a pith hat, he sort of looked like Indiana Jones, trading his trademark whip for a camera. He called out for the talents with her thick British accent. And just like that, a multitude of individuals clad in nomadic Arab attire came out of the tents. I looked on, and sensing the confusion in my eyes, the producer was quick to tell me where they are all from. There were 5 Americans, 4 Brazilians, 1 British and 1 Canadian. Half more are Fil-Ams. Great. I’m in Tra-la-la-land.

I got the chance to talk to them during breaks. As always, I brought my trusty digicam with me, making sure that I document everything especially a photo-op with Isabella and Daniella, both lovely Brazilian models. I wouldn’t mind being stuck in here with these gorgeous girls. But then the thought of my wife holding a pair of Havaianas flip-flops and threatening to slap my face with it knocked me off my daydream. “Brazilian pala ha? Eto’ng sa iyo!” The irony was painfully grimacing. Just taking photos, dear. Part of the job.

Overall, the shoot went well. It got even more surreal when half of the cast changed outfit from see-thru laces and beads to thick, Eskimo garb. What’s more, on day 2, the production crew covered the whole Bedouin camp with ice (or at least made it appear like it is). But I’m not surprised. Not anymore. I’ve endured the heat wave and besides, I am part of the team who wrote this commercial.

And so it ended. After 2 days of intense heat and rubbing elbows with cute foreigners, the shoot was packed up. Abruptly, actually as rain poured while we’re shooting the product shots. Night fell and we bid our multi-racial cast goodbye. Isabella is going back to Brazil in 2 months, Monica to the US in a few weeks and Daniella is flying to Hong Kong for another shoot in a month’s time. As for me, I’m going home. 4 hours of bumpy ride awaits. Back to reality. Another day has ended. Though I still curse the shoot’s schedule being on a weekend and the fact that I can’t take the next day off because of major deadlines, I sat in the van and try to catch some long-overdue sleep. I can’t wait to come home and download the photos I’ve taken. I can’t wait to post this entry on my blog. I can’t wait to publish the photos on my Multiply*

Above all things, however, the most important thing I can’t wait to do, is seeing my wife and kids.

*click on the “My Photos & Videos” link on the right for more photos.


blair_mitch said...

Well now you seemed to have really enjoyed the shoot Russ.

Considering all the drama before we were actually able to hold the damn thing.

Middle-aged Brit director!


russkal said...

thank God for the brazilians. i can't imagine surviving this shoot without them :p