TV Ads are a part of life. Apparently everyone watching the TV has the attention span of a goldfish, so to keep us all awake the good folks in the TV broadcasting business introduced the Commercial Break. Having spent several years in the teaching world, I do understand the need to let people wake up and walk around for a couple of minutes. My cunning plan was to break for about 10 minutes every hour.

Obviously I am not as well schooled in the subject as the TV people. Today we seem to have reached the opposite end of my rainbow. For every 10 minutes of program we seem to need 50 minutes of break time.

Does the viewer need the frequent interruptions? Lets face it, if you need to take a potty break every 12 minutes, you probably should seek medical help.

Those 30 second or one minute adverts are however deceptive. It can weeks, and lots of money and talent to produce that short punchy spot on air.

A good friend of mine is Jack N. Young, his career in Hollywood was long and illustrious. In the 1940’s he was a much sought after stuntman specializing in Westerns. Being a stuntman is a young mans game, it is a career of punishment of the body. Finally Jack had had enough of breaking bones and moved to the safer side of the camera, working in various production and location roles. 

In 1985 he was involved in a TV ad for Renagades, a brand of smokeless  tobacco. It was shot in San Rafael Valley, about 85 miles from Tucson. It was the same location that had been used as a backdrop for movies, OKLAHOMA, WILD ROVERS, MC LINTOCK, TOM HORN and others have called this area home.

Jack was the Production Manager/Assistant Director, in other words he was the guy responsible for getting the irresponsible in the right place at the right time! Jack Churchill was the director, and of course he loved to keep the camera rolling when no one expected it. The result was a 15 minute documentary that does not exist!

To quote Jack, “That’s my brand new yellow Cadillac”.

Our Director, Jack Churchill, took these movies all through the making of this commercial. When he got home, he edited and layed in music, then sent us all a copy. I thought he did a great job.

Part two is just as much fun:

We stayed in the little town of Paragonia. The guy with the tri-pod was Bob Elliott, my second assistant director. Bob was also my best friend but he died a few years ago. He was only 60. The driver of the pickup was Bob Hudson, the owner of the ranch. He also has passed. The gal with the “hands” was Janice, my prop person. The guy with the glasses was George Kline, the owner of the Production Company.

Part three gets even better:

That’s Jack Churchill with George Kline kidding together in front of the facade. It was a long day. We started at am and I wrapped the set around 9pm. That’s me doing the talking at wrap. I loved the guy at the end taking a whizzzzz….

I enjoy all of Jack N. Young’s stories, but this is one of my favorites. It doesn’t take the sparkle out of Hollywood, but it certainly puts a little reality in.

Simon Barrett


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