In October 2014 I landed my first T.V. advert as a stunt-double for moustached Mr. Reed, the notorious lead character for jobs board megalith, Reed.co.uk.
January 2015 saw the commercial go live, so now that I’m legally allowed to make some noise about the event, I thought I’d let you in on what it’s really like to backflip over people, in a suit, for cash…
Stoked to hear that I’d been selected as a stunt-double for the latest Reed.co.uk advert, I had no actual idea what the day would entail other than combining a backflip with a trampette, lots of people and lots of camera equipment. And until this week, I had very little idea what my part was in the storyboard. What I did know, however, was that I would need to show up and crush my part as fast and as clean as possible. That meant going to the gymnasium the night before and crushing 100 successful trampette backflips, in restrictive clothing, to ensure my confidence bank balance was in the black.
The filming itself was great fun, apart from the unexpected and arduous 7 hour wait for my slot to perform. The Television and Entertainment industries appear very glamorous to the average outsider but for the illuminated few, you quickly realise that the entire production is constructed entirely of illusion. A thirty second advert in this case, took a minimum of twenty hours of hard work, with over 200 people, and a ton of waiting around.
Turning up to the shoot with a beard meant some changes had to be made. A set of razors and wireless clippers were handed to me with the instruction of ‘See what you can do’, meaning how close could I shave my facial roadkill into an offensive moustache to match that of the main role, Mr. Reed?
You can’t see my shaved masterpiece in the clip, but I did a pretty good job considering I was forced to hold my breath in the filming venue’s repeatedly-destroyed public toilet – the only place with a mirror and some privacy.
The stunt itself was briefly laid out to me over a crackly phone line just a few days prior to the shoot.
‘So if I asked you to backflip off of a trampette, over some people, you would be comfortable with that?‘ asked one of the lead producers.
‘For sure. That’s what I do for fun, anyway!‘ I replied, trying to install as much confidence in her as possible in one sentence, without coming across as a loon and despite her knowing nothing about my capabilities.
I had practice the flips over and over, but setting up the trampette on the floor. We tried that set up for the shoot, but when it came to reviewing the footage of the backflip on screen, the director’s words were ‘It’s not big enough.‘
My heart sank a little, as I knew I couldn’t make the flip any bigger.
‘What about putting the trampette on the stage, and doing the flip off of that?‘ he asked. A little turtle popped its head out of my arse, as the stage was 4 foot high. A survival-speed calculation told me that a 3 foot, angled trampette, on top of a 4 foot stage would produce a fucking massive backflip that would send me some 13 feet high and a long way backwards.
‘Bring in the second crash mat‘ a voice ordered over the speakers. Two helpers held the crash mats in place for me, which was great, but wasn’t my main concern. The sharp angled edge of the stage sat to my left, and to my right, a row of people stood in front of their chairs. Literally no room for fuck ups here, then. A quick mental montage of me dying in front of the hundreds of people present made my palms glisten in cold sweat.
This whole thought process took less than a second. I didn’t want to dwell on the upped ante incase I over-thought it and pussied out. Instead, I hitched up my suit trousers, took a couple of fat inhalations, and sent the flip as hard and as high as I could. You could literally hear the front row hold their breath as I inverted myself in what almost felt like slow motion.
What you very briefly see in the clip (they sped up the footage) was my 5th attempt, a number I was very happy with considering the stunt was made that much spicier on the day. As a tribute to my success, I decided to leave the premises with a smile topped by my offensive, dead-badger tash, eager to see just how many people it would offend in the coming seven days that I left it to sprout.
Thanks goes to my agency for booking me, and to the production team for making this a unique and well-oiled experience.
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