i get a phone call on friday from an agent i’ve never worked with before, but i know about her
hi, she says, she has a client, a film and ad production house, and they need someone to ride a unicycle in a TV ad
yes, i say excitedly (getting my uni’ing butt onto a TV commercial has long been a goal of mine), i can do that
oh no, she interrupts, u don’t understand, they’ve selected the person they want to use for the ad allready, they just want someone to teach him how to ride the unicycle
when i regained my composure, we discussed the fact that that must be the single most arse-about-face way of doing anything we’ve ever heard of
yes, she assures me, she pointed that out to them, but they’re insistent, they want that person to learn to ride
so i quoted them for a one-hour lesson and unlimited after-lesson phone support (no byron, put your weigh on the seat…just hold, i have another call…)
and the lesson will probably take place sometime this week
i’d love to find out if anyone else’s ever been involved in something simmilar?
We were contacted last Spring by a talent management company in California looking for unicycle riders to perform at Taste of Chicago in a booth for…now I don’t remember what. Anyway, they were looking for professional entertainers to perform and I made the mistake of mentioning that we were not professional but that the boys were highly skilled and would be excited to do the gig. But she had it in her head that she was looking for professional and we wouldn’t do. Thing is, the boys would probably be far more skilled on a unicycle than a professional entertainer who just incorporates unicycling into his or her act.
On one of the trials rides i whent on there was this stunt man/ coordinator who gave us these stunt egancy cards and told us to call the number, havn’t got a call from anybody but I am hopping they do call:D
You’re a consultant. Milk it. Klaas can probably give you a good estimate based on age but it will take about 20 hours for them to learn. And that’s just to learn to ride in a straight line without freemounting or turning on command. Jack those rates, Dave.
This is not uncommon in the entertainment industry. I remember being told about a TV commercial, I think it was for a soft drink, that was being done with the help of JeanPaul Jenack and Meryl Shaffer in the early 80s. They brought a whole bunch of unicycling kids to an audition of some sort. Kids who were good, solid riders. But in the end they chose an actor who had the right “look” but couldn’t ride at all. Then they probably ended up watering down the unicycling part of the commercial until you probably never actually saw the kid ride, because he probably didn’t learn.
In advertising, especially, the look of the people is very important. Sometimes companies go to great lengths to find someone who looks a certain way to represent their product or fit their scenario.
Keep this in mind for unicycling auditions as well. Don’t invest too much of your time if you don’t know what the gig is. I remember taking a day off work to go to a commercial audition for some McDonalds promotion. I was told they needed a unicyclist. I’m a unicyclist. I am not an actor. When I got to the place, I was handed a script. The audition consisted of me reading the script while idling in a tiny piece of floor with cords running across it. They were not looking for a unicyclist, in fact. They were looking for an actor on a unicycle. I don’t know whatever came from that project, but I do know how annoyed I was at the guy who convinced me I’d be perfect for that spot. That’s why actors work in restaurants.
Now for my much sadder story.
Levar Burton can’t ride a unicycle, and it’s because of me. When I worked for the National Circus Project, somewhere around 1990 or so, we were contacted by the Reading Rainbow TV show to teach Levar how to ride for a show on transportation. They wanted to know if we could for-sure teach him to ride in a relatively limited amount of time.
I made the dumb choice of being fully honest and saying it’s impossible to predict how much time a person will need to learn to ride, so it wouldn’t be right for us to guarantee he could ride by a certain time. Oops. So they decided to do something else, and he may have ended up closing the show on a tandem or something. I believe the original idea was for him to end the show by riding away on a unicycle or something similar.
So if Jordie LaForge ever did learn to ride a unicycle, it was without my help. Words to the wise: If you’re ever in a similar situation, say something like “Yes, they can learn!” If they don’t, it’s not the teacher’s fault…
Yes! Unicycling is a cool skill to have, and useful on actors’ resumes! Charge a fair “consultant’s” price, but I don’t recommend limiting yourself to only one hour. Break it into one-hour sessions, with the person practicing on his or her own in-between, but you’ll get better results if you stick with them. Then you can do the phone support later.
Yes indeed, but the professional entertainer would presumably be the better entertainer. Clients want to see high technical unicycling skill only in extremely rare cases. For something at a trade show or similar, they are probably more interested in someone who will be bright and upbeat, and promote an image of festivity, with a unicycle as a prop. Amateur performers tend to take a while to learn all the non-riding elements, such as making eye contact with the audience, smiling, etc. These are more important for an event like the one you were probably being considered for, so the agency was not as far off-base as you may have thought.
Awww I feel bad for GILD. That is like the worst think I could ever think to ask for a unicyclist to do. “Hey we like this guy teach him to unicycle for our commercial even though you can do it already with way more skill then he can.” Its just not right.
Do you know what product the advert is for? I say you milk 'em. Remember these marketing and advertising types tend to have unpleasant tendencies.
I love the idea of a unicyclist samaritans…“You say freemounting’s sending you mad. You’re practising still stands on the top of a building…I see…Yes I can hear you’re upset…Yes and I know the gig’s only nest week, but you need to look at this in perspective…”
Ha ha…Yeah but I vote you milk them like the capitalist cows they are.
Re: Re: The Weirdest Request in the History of Unicycling?
yeah, and a voice for print-media
the serious haggling started yesterday
after agreeing to a rate for the first hour lesson, they claimed budgetary constraints and treid to get a couple of follow-up hours for free
eventually we agreed on a reduced rate for the follow-uphours, if required
which is fine by me
i’d rather have this gig than not and i’d rather make some money off it than make nothing at all
i’m slowly but surely trying to (que the Smoke and Mirrors!) establish myself as the top-of-mind unicycling guy
the main guy in juggling in SA’s been doing splendid work in passing all uni-related stuff on to me
so slowly but surely it’s catching on
this gig is also thru an agent i’ve never worked thru before so i’d rather have it and make a good impression than not
all told, a fun tight-rope walk between not being exploited, not losing the gig and still having fun (and [hopefully] creating a new UniHoki player in the process)
the first lesson is 2moro night
i’ll let u know how it goes
Re: Re: Re: The Weirdest Request in the History of Unicycling?
Sounds like the entertainment business in a nutshell! Yes, it’s very common for clients to claim poverty. It’s always hard to know what price to stand on for the unusual stuff, because there’s no precedent. For the more common stuff, you generally know what the market will bear and can decide to require it. Work for less once and it’s hard to go back to a higher price with that client in the future.
Re: Re: Re: The Weirdest Request in the History of Unicycling?
the guy is pretty incredible
he’s a dancer/singer/actor/performer by trade so i guessed it would be a bit easier
he spent about two hours falling off the uni on his own the day before i got to him
by the end of the hour he was doing assisted Roll-Back mounts and riding 10-12m stretches
the ad is for Carnival City and he’s been cast as (horror of horrors) as the main character, a clown
after several make-up tests, costume tests and custom bodysuit fittings, someone casually mentioned that he needs to be able to ride a unicycle
after all the work that’s been done with him since his casting, it’s no wonder they needed him to learn
the filming is in 12 days
he seems quite keen on getting into unicycling and we’re going to stay in touch
aparantly he was quite a serious (field)-hockey player at school and sounds really keen on UniHoki
if i manage to get hold of a digi-version of the ad, i’lll stick it up her somewhere