Raising the Roof

We went to the set today to check the art director’s progress.  His name is Abid and he worked with Wes Anderson on The Darjeeling Limited.  He has a gentle way and from what we have seen so far he is very talented.  We first visited the set for a spot entitled “Excellence.”  All looked good there so we then made our way to another studio for the two spots entitled “Total Repair 5,” (TR5).  All three commercials for L’Oreal Paris.

The day’s temperature was around 100º with nearly that much humidity and very similar to my Hong Kong experience there was an army of construction workers working in an enclosed warehouse space with no air conditioning.  Entering the buildings I was struck by the odor, the yelling and the noise of power tools.  The guys had set up large fans on stands to move the air but from my point of view they only made things worse.  Swirling dust and residue from well aged saw residue wafted through the super heated damp air making breathing tough and keeping your eyes open tougher.

I was told before I came that some of this experience would be like shooting in Hollywood in the 40’s.  This seemed more removed from the pictures I’ve seen but I did notice that many of the workers were wearing slacks with long sleeve shirts.  The short and t-shirt crowd was there too but I was impressed by the well dressed in the heat. Many of them work for about $20.00 a day and each has a task but I don’t know how efficient they are.

As we approached the TR5 stage we could hear a lot of yelling from within.  We rounded the corner and saw about 25 guys lifting one half of the ceiling into place.  In Hollywood this would be done with a variety of safety lines, possibly a dual pulley system or forklift but to my amazement there was nothing of the sort for this part of the construction.  We watched as the men stood the wall on end, leaned it into some scaffolding, allowing a handful of them to climb the scaffolding and then with shear muscle hoist the piece onto the top of the walls.  Here’s the video of the end of the process:

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After the ceiling piece was up, most of the men turned and went back to their jobs on the floor.  I never looked or asked how the piece was secured to the rafters for the shoot but I assumed all was safe.


tom lowe photo, llc

tacoma, wa 98406



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