That Time I Scored 15 Cases of Beer Off a Film Shoot
Updated: Aug 14, 2021
I got called at the last minute to jump on the crew for a Miller Lite commercial. PA for the Art department. YES! I had gravitated toward the art department from the get go and found myself to be a natural “art dog”. I loved being creative, I didn’t mind getting dirty and usually art department was closer to the action on set. And let’s face it, a lot of the time being a Production Assistant sucks. So I show up the next morning super psyched for what this gig would hold. The Production Coordinator pointed me to the Art Director and I went and got my instructions. On the way over I noticed a huge table with a trough type of thing, hoses, chisels, paper towels etc. Hmmmmmm….. “Great you’re here, says the Art Director, see that huge chunk of ice? Start chipping.” Okay. In typical film biz fashion, this was new and different. On the table sat this enormous ice block maybe 2 feet high and 3 feet long. The director needed all sorts of ice chips for the glimmering product shot. Small slivers, big chunks, crushed, sliced, diced, and whatever else we created. It wasn’t even remotely close to what I had been thinking but hey beats sweeping the stage, emptying trash cans and standing around trying to look busy for 18 hours.
It ended up being a fun multi-day shoot. At the end the production company had a huge barbecue wrap party for the entire crew right there in the parking lot of the soundstage. That was unusual for a commercial so you knew these guys were cool. At the end of the party all of the PAs were cleaning up (of course) when the producer pointed to the back wall of the soundstage. There were at least 60 cases of beer left over from the shoot. “See those cases of beer over there? I’m going to the production office and when I come back in 15 minutes I want them all gone.” Then he walked away. Now, PAs (the good ones anyway) can move like lightning. When someone on that set with any authority tells you to do something, you jump as fast and as high as you can. Needless to say, I’ve never seen a group of PAs move faster than that day. We all scattered, running to get our cars to pull closer to the stage. Heck I think one kid even went and “borrowed” the cube truck cuz he was the one returning it anyway. At the time I drove a 1986 white Subaru hatchback named Sunshine that my Dad bought me. (Because he’s awesome!) I backed her up, threw open the hatch, put down the seat and hot damn if I didn’t squeeze 13 cases of beer in there. The other 2 went in the passenger seat.
Do you have any idea how exciting it is to score 15 FREE cases of beer when you are a broke fresh out of college kid trying to make their way in Hollywood? Let me tell you. I headed for the 101, made it up and over the hill and coasted into the Valley, Sunshine low riding the whole way. My roommate was so psyched, she dropped everything when I got home and immediately went to the store to buy many, many bags of ice. We loaded the bathtub up with beer and ice and then hit the phone. The landline of course…this was the early 90s. We called everyone we knew. It was a Tuesday. But everyone we knew was a freelancer and under the age of 25. That magical sweet spot when you can work all day, party that night, stay out late, get up, go to work, then do it all over again. Or conversely, so many of us freelancers simply just had that Wednesday off. If I were to ever utter the phrase “those were the days” which I rarely do, those would be them. Within the hour we had 30 people at our house. Upon arrival, we took each guest into the bathroom to show off our stash. Most everyone had the same response. “Look at it all!” It was glorious. Yet another epic tale of my early days in Hollywood.