Behind the Scenes: Making Memories to Last A Lifetime
As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m a bit of a ham. I’ve always been this way. It started when I was a really little girl and I would put on impromptu plays and dance recitals for my parents, neighbors and relatives.
As I grew, I had dreams of becoming an actress. The idea of being in front of the camera fascinated me – and the many home movies and photos that my parents have serve as hard evidence of this. There are probably as many photos of me posing and making funny faces at the camera as there are of me smiling. I remember my mom requesting, on many occasions, that I stop posing for the camera. Like I said, I was and still am a complete ham.
I wrote off my dream of being in front of the camera as a silly pipe dream, and worked hard pursuing my other love, writing. Ironically, it would be writing that brought me full circle and put me right back in front of the camera again.
Starting on March 21, when you watch Lifetime, you may see me in commercials for Walt Disney World alongside my fellow Southern belle, Disney Moms Panelist Andi. I am representing the Lifetime Moms, and Andi is representing the Disney Moms in this fun spot where we are both able to share our love of “the happiest place on earth”!
I could write for ages about my love of Disney, but I’m saving that for a future post. For now, I wanted to share some behind-the-scenes photos with you of our two-day shoot in Walt Disney World. That’s right – the 60-second spot that you see airing on TV took two full days to film!
The first day, Andi and I met with the director, producer and creative director, who all immediately put us at ease. By the end of the shoot, we knew all about their families and had started to feel like we had known each other for years. It made me realize why people get to be such good friends when they are shooting movies or TV shows – you spend so much time together!
We started our shoot on the beach at the Grand Floridian, and continued shooting right at the entrance of the lobby. It was a gorgeous day – clear and sunny – and the Grand Floridian is such a spectacular resort. I didn’t have any shoes on during the takes on the beach, and at one point I totally sank into the sand and almost lost my balance. It made the whole crew laugh, though, and it helped me to shake those nervous first-day jitters!
After we left the Grand Floridian, we headed to Epcot to do a few shots. Epcot is my favorite of the 4 parks, so I was especially excited to be shooting there. We were waiting for the monorail to pass behind me in one of my takes, and so we had to wait 10 minutes before having a 15 second window for me to deliver my line. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but I got it done on the first try! We moved to another location to do a few more takes, then wrapped up our Epcot shoot early. Since we had a bit of time before our evening in Magic Kingdom, Andi and I talked everyone into going on Test Track with us. It was so much fun!
That evening we headed over to Magic Kingdom to film the very last shot of the commercial with the fireworks going off behind Cinderella’s Castle. We had dinner with the entire crew first, and by the time we got outside to shoot the fireworks shots in the rose garden, it had gotten very chilly. We kept our jackets on while they put our mic packs back on, tested the light for the shot, and had our hair and makeup touched up. We had four different takes to do over the course of a 20-minute fireworks display: one with Andi and me, then one line just from Andi, and two lines just from me. Turns out the fireworks show was only 15 minutes, so we didn’t have time for me to get in one of my lines!
The next morning I snuck out of my room at 5:30 am to meet Andi and the rest of the crew. It was an early morning because we would be shooting in an empty, not-yet-open Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, the weather that morning was somewhere around 30 degrees, and every time that Lee, the director, called “action,” I had to physically stop myself from shivering. On one occasion I opened my mouth to deliver my line, and all that came out was a shiver and a “brrr.” The entire crew burst into laughter. I love the photo below where the production manager is standing behind me wearing two jackets, gloves and a beanie, while I stand patiently in short sleeves waiting for the slate.
I loved sharing this experience with Andi, because she loves Disney just as much, if not more, than I do. We had the opportunity to meet the White Rabbit from “Alice in Wonderland,” and before we knew it, he was in the Teacups with us, spinning away. Andi and I kept saying to each other, “I cannot believe we are riding the Teacups with the White Rabbit!” Even though I’m 28 years old, the magic of that moment was not lost on me – it was a moment I’ll never forget.
One of the coolest moments for me was shooting on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We only had two passes at it, so it was imperative that we get it right. We boarded the roller coaster, while extras filled in the cart behind us and the camera guys, sound guy, director and producer boarded the cars right in front of us. They needed to get us each saying a line, plus get some B-roll of Andi and me having fun on the roller coaster. The ride has lots of dark spots where the cameras couldn’t really focus on us, so we had even more limited opportunity to get it right. Thankfully, it is really easy to have fun on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, though it is certainly harder than I thought to say “How cool is that?!” to the camera while speeding around corners and going over drops!
Before I knew it we were wrapping up the day, and the shoot, in the Rose Garden in Magic Kingdom with Mickey and Minnie themselves. After our takes, we took a few photos, including one shot with the whole crew. Andi and I rejoiced together when they called it a wrap – now we just had two months of waiting to see the final product!
Shooting this commercial was some of the most fun that I’ve ever had, and I’m so excited to share it with the millions of viewers who watch Lifetime! I hope you enjoyed my little (OK, LONG) behind-the-scenes look at our shoot! Don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes to have a chance to win your very own trip to Walt Disney World with your family!