Pepsi – Cool Kids
This was my 2nd national commercial. We shot in California, my first time working in LA. Also, my first time working with Joe Pytka.
The other guy with me was ‘Michael Jackson’ – yep, that’s his name. It was only a one day shoot, but it was a luxurious experience. High-end hotel, big-time client and super big-time director – Joe Pytka. Joe literally invented the aesthetic of the big budget commercial in the late 80s thru the 90s.
On the way to set, the song ‘The Power’ by SNAP came on the radio. Michael and I went nuts and started dancing around in the van as we loved that song. The driver told us that ‘The Power’ was one of Joe Pytka’s favorite songs as well. He told us that we should ask him to play it on set.
Once on set, Joe emerged and he was HUGE. He was like this nordic giant of a man. He had complete and utter control of his set and the whole thing ran like a finely tuned machine.
He was also the first director I had worked with that operated his own camera. I loved that because that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to freely express my directorial vision from moment to moment by using the camera as an extension of my arms and visual mind. Even though there was a very clear storyboard of the commercial, I saw him ‘freestyling’ during takes and changing things up to keep a very real and natural vibe. I was in awe.
By the time we broke for lunch, we had shot out most of the spot and all we had to do was some close-ups. As the crew started to disperse for lunch, Michael and I remembered to ask Joe to put on ‘The Power’. I hadn’t even finished the request when Joe shouted out into the set:
‘THE POWER… LOUD!’
There was a PA that literally jumped out of nowhere and almost killed himself running top speed to a stereo system to start the music. Music boomed out from some speakers on the stage. Michael and I couldn’t help dancing and when we started Joe called for his camera. The crew raced back to their positions, and Joe started shooting us dancing. We danced almost the entire length of the song full out. I did a jump spin into a split and everything – when I used to dance unabashedly.
The dancing wasn’t part of the commercial concept at all, but Joe thought quick on his feet, and captured some cool moments that ended up being woven thru the entire spot.
This spot wasn’t played nearly as much as my Bubble Yum commercial, however it was placed at the beginning of the Home Alone VHS tape, so that was pretty cool. And this would not be the last time I worked with Joe Pytka.