By Juliette Verne (Jet)
It’s almost 5am and taking more than a few moments to work out why my alarm clock is blaring in my ear. Looking at my phone it reads: “Call time 6.00am Berocca Commercial”.
I rock up to one of the funkiest locations I’ve ever been at. Two huge production trucks drive past, side by side down a massive ramp into this vast, empty, rundown tram graveyard. Sun filters down through the beams in the deteriorated roof, shining on bright colourful graffiti that covers EVERY wall. In the shadows of the far corner, 12 gutted trams peak out, watching everyone walk across the muddy floor to where the shoot is about to take place. They sit there silently observing from the shadows the sudden buzz of life as dancers greet each other, production and camera crew prep the lights, sound, smoke, flooring and unload copious amounts of film from the trucks, disturbing these 12 old trams quiet and abandoned peace.

Engaging in a brief chat with the head of production and director to go over the rundown of the days sequence and confirm what shots are required based on the meetings we had weeks in advance, I’m off to find the talent in the building next door. Walking into a sectioned off area that’s been turned into the boys change room, I find the Top 10 boys of Season 3’s SYTYCD all on the floor. Most of them are half asleep and all of them exhausted after day 3 of their SYTYCD Top 20 experience. Give them all a brief on what’s expected today and then to the ladies change room to give them the same. The girls are all abuzz chirping and chatting away (atmosphere worlds apart from the vibe in the boys room), getting to know each other and exchanging their life experiences and the clock hasn’t even ticked past 6:05am yet!
Gather them quickly into the rehearsal area as I only have limited time to teach them all the choreography and get them to performance level. “Challenge” has been written all over this process from the beginning as I couldn’t get a separate rehearsal time with them prior to today’s shoot. Happily for me I work best under pressure and I know that the Top 20 contestants do as well. All of them very capable and fabulous dancers who I got to know quite well while working on the production team and saw them all go through the intense audition process of SYTYCD Season 3.
The new Top 20 picked up the combination very quickly with only a few nervous giggles and lots of buzzing excitement about being in the New Berocca commercial. The dancers chose their own partners and started rehearsing the new combination, which was fast and intricate (Jet style) with a touch of partner work. One of my favourite things to watch is the different dynamics and energy between couples and how the same moves can look completely different depending on who is doing them.
20 minutes later (10 minutes short of my allocated 30 minutes) the Top 20 were pulled away for makeup and wardrobe. Soon after that we‘re over to the location and about to shoot. Smoke fills the set, crew running around making adjustments to lights and cameras. A quick practice on the stage that’s been put in especially for the dancers, smack bang in the middle of the huge tram shed, we’re ready for “Action!”.
Cameras rolling the dancers are on fire, repeating their tricks, kicks and spins over and over again as the Director and DOP’ s go for different angles and shoot with different film speeds, lighting and camera movements. Monitors are aglow with the action on the stage and the Director, DOPs and myself watch each take to ensure all shots are captured. Like with any production there are so many variables that can affect a shoot. From different camera angles, lighting adjustments (due to the sun moving throughout the day), equipment, amount of smoke to create atmosphere, dancers choreography, energy levels and fitness of each dancer, music levels, power etc etc the day went super smooth making the client [Berocca], Channel Ten and SYTYCD production team very happy, especially as they were there the whole day providing input on what they wanted / didn’t want in the final product. I extend BIG kudos to the Director and crew for keeping all parties happy and making the process flow seamlessly.
Before we knew it someone was calling “It’s wrap” and my watch was saying 5:00pm Top 20 were rushed off for various osteo/phsio/massage and other important appointments and I was saying my goodbyes and thankyous while receiving generous praise for a great day.
It’s a pleasure working with positive and capable teams and today was a highlight in how well a shoot day can run and will go down in the book as a winner.
Look out for the new Berocca commercial! It’s going to be a GREAT year!
Till next time 🙂