Against my better judgment, I agreed to do some set publicity for a B movie starring an aging action hero whose best punches and one-liners are well behind him.
Normally I wouldn't come within 10 feet of a show like this, but it's shooting in a city I've always wanted to visit, and it's for a studio I've never worked with. What can I say? It's a chance to butter them up for a real movie down the road.
Based on the script, star, and location (which I can't reveal, lest it give away the title), there was little likelihood - barring the actor's sudden demise - of generating any attention to this project whatsoever. So I was surprised to see not just one, but two photographers on set. What's more, the star's personal publicist also planned to be on the set all the time. (Or rather, whenever the star was on-set, which wasn't often.) Crazy. It's like sending two fire trucks to douse a candle.
So be it. We formed a publicity posse and set about the important business of scouting the best restaurants and securing tickets to upcoming events. As the unit publicist and still photographer normally means only a two-person department, it felt good to double our body count. Strength in numbers. "I've always envied the production design and camera teams," one of our photographers announced, "because they are part of a real department. Now I feel like we're one, too."
Add to our ranks the EPK crew (three), and suddenly the publicity department was a big bad band of seven. We were tempted to make personalized T-shirts and stroll around the set promoting our valued services. "Got photos? Who needs a press release?"
Then we got our first glance at the star's entourage. Huge bodyguards, personal assistants, scantily clad women of all ethnic backgrounds, hair and make-up artists - and a designated "coordinator" who walked around with three phones, a walkie-talkie, and a clipboard. Twelve people in all. Twelve! Whenever the actor moved, from trailer to set, set to monitor, or just outside for some air, his dirty dozen followed right behind. Smoothly executed, perfectly orchestrated.
The publicity posse's brief moment at the top of the heap was over. Aging Action Hero and Co. reclaimed the coterie throne.
Sensing my team's dispirited resignation, I tried to cheer them up. "Their entourage isn't so special," I consoled. "I hear Wesley Snipes has 13 in his crew."