Thursday, September 20, 2007

Model Citizen


A few weeks ago I got an email from the president of my cycling club that Getty Images needed some cyclists for a photo shoot. But the part that jumped out at me was $500/day. The email came in at 9:02pm and at 9:03, I was dialing the phone to leave a message for the Matt, the producer.

He called me back the next day, I sent him some of my best action shots (thanks Jonathan!) and a head shot and a few days later, he called and invited me to come and play.

The wardrobe director called me next to find out what I had. "Just bring everything," she said, so that's what I did. The night before the shoot, I polished my bike and packed a suitcase with every piece of bike gear I owned, and a few borrowed items from Jess.

My call time was 10:30. It was overcast and none too warm, but at least not raining. I pulled up to the Historic Bybee house on Sauvie Island which was serving as base camp for the day. Matt greeted me and told me where to park.

Holly, the wardrobe woman, came over to check out my clothes. The only thing I have that looks remotely racer-like is my Sorella kit, but Holly latched onto my bright orange Team Shift jersey, probably to combat the gray of the day. I wasn't there to argue, so I got dressed and started stripping my bike. Heidi, the art director decided against aero bars so I took those off as well.

As I was doing that, a woman came up and introduced herself as Nicola. "When you're done, come on over by the food and I want to do a little hair and make-up," she said.

I couldn't imagine what she was going to do with my hair but I showed up at her makeshift work shop and had a seat on the edge of an open van while she rubbed cream on my face, sprayed me a few times, put on eye make-up and finally, rubbed a combination of sweet almond and coconut oil on my arms and legs. "So, what did you have in mind for my hair?" I asked, while she worked.

She didn't bat an eye. "Well for today I was thinking something really simple...kind of like you have it now."

"Sounds good," I said, face totally straight.

"You probably brought all your curling irons and things with you eh?"

"Yup, absolutely."

Despite being on a tight schedule with a lot to get done, I found that the whole crew was pleasant with a good sense of humor, which made the day a breeze.

When Nicola was done, Holly came back over. "Would you mind if I borrowed a pair of your gloves?" They were for Gordon, who had pulled up next to me while I was working on my bike. There were five of us all together. Four of us were cyclists. Gordon was the model sent from the agency. You would think this would mean he was the most prepared and professional but he hadn't followed Holly's instructions and had left his gloves at home. His hands were huge. I was a little skeptical but I dug out my Gel Vent gloves that were stretched out and practically falling apart but looked OK from the outside. Amazingly, they fit him. He also had to borrow a tool to take off his aero bars. Holly came over and whispered to me, "Thank you for bringing *everything* like I asked you to," as if to never follow instructions!

Then there was a lot of waiting around. I've done enough acting and been on enough movie sets that I wasn't surprised. The photographer was out scouting the best location to get the most perfect shots and in the meantime, I warmed up by riding back and forth on the main road. After that I chatted with the other models and ate chips. I was a little cold standing around in shorts and a short sleeve jersey but I calculated that each goose bump was worth $1 and magically felt warmer.

Finally, we got the word to go. We got on our bikes and followed Holly and Nicola in the van. Except they forgot we were behind them and, though Adnan and Damien are very fast racers, not even they could quite do 45 mph. We found the van pulled over after a turn off, and then they raced off again. After about two miles we reached a turn in the road with a gorgeous open field back drop that even the oppressive cloud cover couldn't spoil.

Flaggers were in place on either side to stop traffic for three minutes at a time while we rode back and forth. At the pop of the flash, we all turned around and did again. Single file, double file, random order, faster, slower, "try to make the turn look more exaggerated."

Between runs we waited in the gravel by the side of the road and tried to amuse ourselves cracking jokes.

"This is so much easier than my last shoot for Maxim" I said, cracking up the boys. "Quiet, I'm trying to get into character!" From Damian. Adnan started a track stand and I foolishly tried to copy him, which lasted less than a minute. Mine, not his. He told us of track stand contests he'd been in which lasted over an hour.

I teased Adnan about his computer which was huge. Was it the cyclist version of a pick up truck? "You get Google & Showtime on that thing?" I asked him. I noticed he was shivering much more than the rest of us even though the sun was coming out. At lunch time I found out that he is on a month-long fast. He doesn't eat from dawn to dusk. No calories, no heat. For once I wasn't the coldest person in a group. Actually, I was surprised how well I was holding up. I usually lean towards over dressing for any outdoor occasion.

When we went for our next pass, Thomas, the photographer, was laying across the road. "You want us to bunny hop him?" I asked. Someone had to explain to the camera crew what that meant. The next few shots were painfully slow passes between Thomas and the edge of the road, and he snapped close ups. I was glad I'd cleaned my bike. The boys didn't. "They wanted realism," was Damien's defense. We went through in various groups of two and three. I tried to flex my calves, but I was already having inadequacy issues from riding behind Patti, who has amazing calves. Damien complained that Gordon stopped pedaling and coasted through the shots, causing the line up to be off. Showing his model roots again.

After the road shooting was done, Thomas set up all his umbrellas in the field and then had us out there lined up and posing like we were carrying our bikes cyclocross style. Damian gave us a few cross tips while we waited to be called in, which I found interesting but I don't think I'll be racing cross anytime soon. I'm still not sure where my new mountain bike is going to go in our tiny garage.

After the group shots, Gordon got the spotlight to do some macho poses holding his bike overhead in various ways and showing off his model street cred. He did get into character really fast when Heidi threw a scenario at him--and he was very good at running in slow motion, even while loaded down with his bike. Damien offered to 'frolick' by with his bike. I think he was surprised when Heidi took him up on it. It was clear that he wasn't normaly a 'frolicking' sort, but he gave it a college try.

After that we wrapped for lunch, which was great because though I'd been ultra prepared with clothing, I'd neglected to bring a single snack with me. Back at the trailer there was a whole table of sandwiches with veggie trays (snap peas!), fruit, cookies etc. We watched the last of the lifestyle shoot going on directly behind the Bybee house. There was laundry and a barefoot little girl involved and that's all I could really figure out.

Holly came over and told us we'd need to change for the next round of shooting. "I might have you try on the Specialized outfit," she said to Patti. "Doh!" I couldn't help expressing my disappointment. I'd seen that kit on the rack in the morning and coveted it madly. She took pity on me and brought it over for me to try on. It fit perfectly and looked fabulous. I figured there was a good chance that if we used them, we might get to keep our outfits.

The boys got gussied up in River City Cross Crusade kits and spent two and a half hours riding around the island behind the camera car, simulating a race, while we sat in our cars and read or napped. When they got back, they were so stinky that Holly eventually foisted the shirts on them and said, "keep them!" After she confirmed that no, we don't wear underwear underneath cycling shorts, there wasn't even a discussion about taking the shorts back.

No such luck for the women. We'd done nothing but sit around for two hours and now there wasn't time to do anymore with us because they had to get started with the runners. They were only going to do portraits anyway, so the outfits wouldn't have mattered. I was totally bummed! I wanted to get in on the action and I really wanted that riding kit. But, I decided to be happy with my $500, which after all, will pay for half my new mountain bike. :)

The pictures will go up on the Getty site sometime in the next two months.

Holly *strongly* suggested that Patti and I sign up with Sports Unlimited, the sports model company that sent Gordon. She said they don't have many cyclists, especially women, which is why they had to hit up every team and coach in the city to find people. I promptly submitted an application. Who knows, maybe some mountain bike money will come of it.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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