Thursday, October 27, 2011

Greg Smith: Behind The Scenes

                  Greg Smith:  Behind The Scenes
With Halloween almost here, I find myself excited about the prospect of portraying one of my favorite characters. 
Here is one of my most enjoyable and memorable Greg Smith pieces, though it is a lesser seen bit: 
This one was not as well received as the previous Greg appearance, but to me it was as much fun to shoot and edit as anything I’ve ever done (and not just because I got to share a coffin with April Rose).  So much goes into something like this, and the behind the scenes moments are unforgettable. Sometimes the unexpected happens and in my opinion, the funniest stuff ends up on the cutting room floor. 
We set up the visit first by calling the casket store.  Bill, the gentleman who appears in the video was fine with having us come and shoot our “little sketch” there and even willing to appear in it.  We arrive, I start with my makeup, cameraman Steve Scheuer sets up and my friend Jeff Hoover cases the joint to look for what gags we might be able to pull off.  Bill is very cordial and helpful and answers all of our questions.  “How often do people come in to look at caskets?” we asked him.  “Not often” says Bill, which makes sense as this is a bit of a specialty type outlet.  He told us that at times, he would just sit there for hours and even days before someone would come in.  “They never drive over and stop in?”  “Not since I’ve been here.” Says Bill.  It’s now pretty much just and appointment only type of thing.  This made me feel better.  Imagine the feeling should some grief stricken relative of a recently deceased stop in looking for just the right coffin while I’m decked out like Bela Lugosi on a bender.
I finish with probably the worst makeup job on record; I’ve got the blood on my mouth, a widow’s peak and bow tie, I slip into my cape and walk to the front.  The timing could not have been more perfect as I get to the reception desk just as a CUSTOMER enters the store.  Our eyes meet.  Nothing is said (though I did consider asking “May I help you?”) A momentary pause takes place which seems to last for an eternity.   I do the awkward move where you hold up the index finger as if to say, “just a minute” and I retreat to the back room, “Uh, Bill…you have a customer.”  Steve, Jeff, April and I all stare at each other in shock.  Nobody wants to laugh, but come on!  How nuts is this? I must admit a chuckle did escape as I tried to put a serious face on top of the ridiculous face I’d just assembled on top of my own.  Now it’s one of those moments where you know you shouldn’t laugh but the harder you try not to, the harder it becomes.  How horrible! 
The laughs subsided eventually.  I believe Bill got the sale, and I am happy to report that the customer did have a sense of humor about the whole thing.  Before he left, he asked jokingly, “Hey where did Dracula go?”  Who knows, maybe it gave him a brief moment to smile on one of the worst days of his life… And believing that makes me sleep better at night whether it’s true or not.
Despite the bump in the road, we finished the shoot.  The piece ran once, but like the creature of the night that is Greg Smith, it will live forever!!! (Thanks YouTube).
…and I’m still waiting for my commission.

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