I have recently been going to Chicago for work about two weeks per month. There are many great opportunities there for TV, film, and modeling. Last week, however, was the busiest week I have had there so far. I think I slept for two days once I finally got back home!
On that Monday, I had an audition on Michigan Avenue for Mattel to be Barbie. I had to do a video on why I would make a good Barbie, my memories of Barbie as a little girl, and just talk for a few minutes on film. I grew up going to Chicago a lot since my brothers and sister lived there (my sister was a model too), but since I am much younger than them, I was just a child, so until recently, I had never had to get around the city by myself and navigate my SUV through the streets of Chicago! Whew! Before these last couple times I’ve been in Chicago working, I hadn’t been since I was 18 for my brothers wedding. First lesson learned: Don’t park in a public garage/avoid driving downtown. For my audition, I found a parking garage right next to the building I needed to go to. Because traffic was crazy and there was so much happening around me, I decided to park there. BAD IDEA! Once you go in, the door closes behind you and only then do you see the parking rates. I had to pay $19 for half an hour. I am thankful that I can at least use it as a write-off. Fortunately, most of my jobs so far have been just outside the city, in a suburb, at a place that provides parking, or the production pays for my parking.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I was hired by a media company to film an industrial video for Argo/Ingredion out in a suburb of Chicago. They just rebranded their company, so they needed a new safety/welcome video for the many, many visitors and contractors that go there. They make anything that has to do with corn and they use every part of the corn kernel so nothing is wasted. They make syrup, starch, beauty products, pharmaceutical, you name it! Then their prepared substances are shipped off to companies like Coca-Cola. These days lasted from about 6am to 6pm each day. I first played a business woman visiting the plant and demonstrated how to go through security, register, get a badge, use a badge to get around the grounds, remove jewelry, call for help, and wear gloves over nail polish. Then I portrayed a contractor. I had to show how to put on gear correctly, step by step, how to drive through security gates, how to ride in trucks properly, checking hands for scratches, using safety showers, etc… I learned so much and had a really great time. I loved riding around on the golf cart/walking and exploring all of the buildings. The property has a very interesting smell that takes some getting used to. Not bad, just different. The employees at Argo were so sweet and clearly loved their jobs. All of the guys from the production crew were so funny and always had me laughing. Each day they provided delicious breakfast and lunch! Yum!
On Thursday, I filmed a few scenes of a movie called “Johnson” near the Lincoln Park Zoo first and then at a really neat bar. Just to show you an example of how quickly things can change in this industry, I was first cast as an attractive, young mother who gets hit on at the grocery store by the main character (Cam Gigandet of Twilight), but then once I got to the set, they wanted me to be in several other scenes- at a cool apothecary and then hanging out with Cam and his friend at the bar. A few of my guy friends from a beer commercial I filmed a while ago were also filming, so that was a nice surprise to see them. In between takes and scenes, it’s fun to chat with everyone and meet new people. I had a few quick wardrobe/makeup/hair changes- they are always a little stressful. I got to the set around 9am and was finished around 8pm. So I went from working 2-3 hours to 11 hours! Thank goodness catering and craft services on movie sets is soooo good. On this particular day we had Chinese and it was the best Chinese food I have ever had! As for snacks and drinks, they always have everything you could possibly want and restock often. I wish I could have taken photos, but I couldn’t. There were lots of pictures taken for continuity purposes and stills, but who knows where they are! People in this line of work are almost always happy because they love what they do. The best and worst part of this industry is meeting so many amazing, talented, nice people, and wondering if you will ever see them again. It’s always bittersweet when I hear “That’s a wrap!” and everyone claps.
On Friday, I had a photo shoot for the look book of the 2013 Spring collection for a clothing company called Lost Girls. For a look book, you have the same background for every photo, so you really just have to be good at posing and changing it up since you don’t really have anything else to work with. You want to highlight the features of each piece. The designer makes everything in Chicago and her clothes are sold in boutiques in Chicago and San Francisco as of now. I had hoped she would pick me when I first researched the line. I was quickly obsessed and very excited when she told me when she first saw my photos that I was the one! I got to her house to meet her and the makeup and hair guy. I immediately loved them both and she was so hospitable making me hot tea, yogurt with homemade granola, and a beautiful fruit, cheese, and cracker spread! I was so impressed with the hair and makeup guy. I’m happy the designer was so happy with my work and wants me back for future shoots/wants to recommend me to everyone, so that I will get to work with both of them again. We shot at a park close to her home, so that meant changing from piece to piece out in the open. This is how it works- an outfit is layed out across a back car seat ready to put on, someone from the crew holds up my bathrobe and I change super fast and carefully to get it over my head, and then someone else zips or buttons me up real quick! We went through outfit after outfit in a couple hours, making sure I had my warm and cozy bathrobe on in between shooting. Such a fun day!