Earlier this month (June), I was invited to fly out and visit the movie set of Walmart’s and Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) 8th and newest Family Movie Night film as part of a Daddy Blogger tour. The movie is titled “Game Time: Tackling the Past”, premiering Saturday, September 3rd on NBC, and stars Beau Bridges, Ryan McPartlin, and Josh Braaten, among others. Like the previous Family Movie Night titles (for example, “Field of Vision“), the movie is being filmed with a sharp focus on topics that are appropriate for the family and entertaining. Turns out there is a surprising need for such television programming according to a a recent study by P&G and Walmart conducted with the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) Alliance for Family Entertainment.
According to the results, parents across America are seeking more family-oriented entertainment options. In total, 94% of those surveyed said it’s extremely or very important that their families spend time together and entertainment is a primary way their families get together, 81% said they enjoyed watching movies with their families, and 75% enjoyed watching TV together. Additional survey results revealed the following:
- 69% of moms said they wished there were more family-friendly TV programs that they can enjoy with their kids
- 75% of moms admitted to having to change the channel because of inappropriate content in a program they thought was family-friendly
- 42% of moms feel that their family would spend more time together if there was more family-friendly TV programming
- More than two thirds (71 percent) of parents would go out of their way to find these types of programs
When parents were asked about what kind of qualities they want to see in entertainment for their family, their answers varied, but also had many common points. Those top five qualities shared across the group were as follows:
- Portrays the consequences of the character’s choices/actions
- Portrays parents in a positive manner
- Includes characters with high moral values
- Teaches a lesson
- Does not contain profanity or swear words
All great qualities and, sadly, seldom realized in modern programming. Is it any wonder, then, why the Family Movie Night is poplar? Not only does it entertain, but also satisfies a need.
Here is the movie poster (of sorts). I am sad to see that I didn’t make it into the shot, but there is simply no pleasing some people. The movie is currently scheduled to premier September 3rd, 2011.
The First Day
The first day was mostly filled with travel as I jumped from one jet to the next making my way to Wilmington, NC from Rochester, MN. I won’t go bore you with the details about the actual flight other than to say I never once sat next to someone who smelled of cheese or was afraid to converse to kill the time. And thank goodness for that. Nothing worse than sitting next to someone who smells bad and doesn’t want to talk about it. Downright rude.
When I landed and arrived at my hotel, I had only a few minute to change out of my travel clothes, call my family to let them know I made it safely, and meet my party downstairs for dinner. When I arrived at the hotel lobby, I met two ladies, Lindsey and Charlotte who represented MSL New York and P&G, and Craig who is the Editor-in-Chief of the popular web site, Man of the House. Introductions all around and then a quick walk a few blocks away from the hotel to get good and lost. Luckily, everyone had a smart phone, and almost on cue, we all took out our individual phones and started finding the quickest path to the restaurant. Huzzah for technology! Minutes later, we were seated at the Copper Penny. Great food, great drinks, and even better conversation.
Having never done anything like this Daddy Blogger tour before, I was understandably curious about everyone and what to expect in the morning. Lindsey and Charlotte were more than happy to explain what to expect, how the schedule was going to go, and who everyone involved in the tour was. I had not met Craig before, but had written a small piece to promote a contest on his site. It didn’t take much time before I felt very comfortable at the table and laughing freely. It almost certainly helped that the beer was cold and the food was delicious. But all good things must end and so also must dinner. Having finished our meal, we walked back to the hotel and said goodnight, but no sleeping yet for this fatherly geek.
All the Daddy Bloggers were given a movie synopsis and a summary of the actors. I immediately took to reading this document and started to write down questions I would ask the actors. I did not want to waste their time or mine and so sought to be as prepared as possible for the morrow. I wrote, erased, rewrote, and revised well into the late hours of the evening and the wee hours of the morning. I was satisfied with my work and called it a “night” at 2 AM. Yes, I was going to be tired, but I was most certainly also going to be prepared.
I should also note that every Daddy Blogger received a thoughtful bag of P&G and Walmart products that any “manly man” would appreciate. I speak, of course, of razors and all things shaving related. A few of these gifts I passed on to you, the readers. A very generous and thoughtful gift, especially for a man with haircut like mine.
The Second Day
I did not wake at the crack of dawn. Having stayed up late, I took the rare opportunity to sleep in. Having a house full of 3 little boys, I am lucky to be able to stay in bed past 7 AM on weekends. With no one but myself in the room, I basked in the glow of perpetual laziness until about an hour before we were all going to meet for lunch. Rising, dressing, and reviewing my questions (yes, again), I gathered what belongings I needed and made my way downstairs.
In the lobby, I met the two new individuals that were also Daddy Bloggers. Rodrigo from Vocalpoint and Vincent from The Dad Jam. Both super great guys and a lot of fun right off the bat. Based on all the Daddy Bloggers I had met so far, I now believe it must be a mandatory to be witty, entertaining, and charming in order to be a blogger.
Lunch With Josh Braaten
First, let me just say that I thought lunch was very nice but I could not for the life of me tell you where we ate or what I had. I vaguely recall eating a sandwich and drinking some wine, but that’s about it for the details. My mind was elsewhere, you see, as Josh sat right across the table from me and two of the producers to my left and right.
Josh was an absolute joy to talk to and did his very best to answer all the questions asked of him while still trying to eat his lunch. He was, after all, working and was only on his lunch break with us. Josh spoke to me a great deal of the importance of passion and from where he derived his confidence. It also turns out that Josh was originally from Minnesota, the state I was born in and currently call “home”. We discussed some stomping grounds we both new and had a great time talking.
The two producers were also very keen on communicating to the Daddy Bloggers the importance of the film. It was obvious from their tone and body language that they were excited about the project and believed in the message being communicated. It is always a pleasure to see people passionate about their work and the producers did not disappoint. In the two hours or so I was with them, I learned not only a great deal about the film, but the driving force behind it.
When lunch was over, we said our good-byes and thanks, and the Daddy Bloggers all jumped in van to visit the filming location for the day.
Josh Braaten’s Geek Confession: Josh wore Batman Underoos with thermal underwear as a child. Yes, that is geeky and I am proud to say I did the same. If I were to be perfectly honest with you, I’d do it today if it weren’t for the fact that Underoos don’t come in adult sizes.
On the Movie Set
The shooting location for the day was a grand old house that was to play as the home to Beau Bridges’ character. Beautiful and full of Souther Class, it was easy to see why this particular home was selected. Oddly enough, it wasn’t what was on the outside but the inside that was being shot for the movie.
Outside, trucks, vans, dollies, tables, equipment, and men and women were everywhere. It takes an army comprised of people and gear to make a movie. I was immediatly filled with a feeling of being overwhelmed by the logistics needed to get so many people and things in one place at one time. Keep in mind that I was not standing in a Hollywood back-lot sound stage, but a city street with homes and families living on it. I can only imagine the level of disruption and excitement this movie was the cause of for the neighbors.
The inside of the house, which was being rented by the production company, was completely redone to meet the specifications of what the home in the movie should look like. This meant new paint, new furniture, lights, paintings, table wear, and yes, even family photos were brought in and used. Scattered around the home were photo props with the actors on every table and the mantel above the fireplace. The level of detail even went so far as to ensure that the awards on the wall and the trophies in the case had the fictitious names and dates of events. Simply incredible the level of detail they put into it when you consider that many of the “small touches” will go completely unnoticed by the average television viewer.
We finished walking around the house, learning how everything was setup and why, and then moved to the house next door where a screened porch awaited us. This is where we were going to interview the actors and watch the filming of a very important scene in the movie.
Beau Bridges: Legend
Speaking to Beau Bridges was very much like drinking a nice cup of Camille tea in front of a warm fire in the dead of winter in a ski lodge in the Alps. In other words, very calming. I was already a big fan of Bridges and being given a chance to meet the man in person was both terribly exciting and terribly nerve wracking. I cannot tell you how very pleased I was to have prepared all my notes the previous evening, but even so, I still found myself frantically referring back to them until it was my turn to conduct the interview.
Turns out that all that worrying was for nothing. Like I said, Bridges is downright calming. He was easy to talk to, fun to engage, and even gave me a hard time on a number of occasions and were able to trade witty remarks back and forth! By the time I was done interviewing him, I felt like I spent 5 minutes talking to a relative instead of a celebrity with huge name recognition.
I spoke to Bridges about his passions and how he communicated and shared them with his children and family. Bridges did not disappoint and provided an exceedingly in-depth response that came from the heart. He talked about the importance of being genuine, of being open, and of being loving. He spoke of his brother and his father, of his loving wife and of his children. It was clear that Bridges derived much pleasure from life and at the center of it was his family.
Beau Bridges’ Geek Confession: Beau is a traditionalist and wears tidy whities (plain white men’s brief underwear). I must admit that I was not expecting this as the answer and when you see my reaction to his response in the video, you’ll note I am somewhat flustered and slow to respond. Still, coming from Bridges, it seemed perfectly OK and cool.
A Conversation with Ryan McPartlin
Ryan and I spoke of the importance of following your passion and how he communicated this to his children. Ryan was quick to point out that “passion” and “hard work” were one in the same on many levels and that a balance must be maintained between the two. After all, that which is most rewarding in life is often times the most difficult to obtain. This is something I also try to communicate with my children, especially when they see their father come home from a long day of work and looking physically and emotionally tired.
My oldest son, Liam, asked me one day if I liked my job and I told him “sometimes”. He found this to be an odd answer and immediately asked me why I kept going back day after day if it wasn’t fun all the time. I gave it a moment of thought as the question was worth chewing on. In the end, the answer was an easy one. I told him I went back every day because no matter how difficult my day is, I am always challenged and I found that a very rewarding experience. I was passionate about it.
Ryan McPartlin’s Geek Confession: Ryan had to think about this one and really didn’t know how to answer it. Not surprising since it is not everyday someone asks you right to your face what is something you love doing but know is geeky. Ryan did provide an answer in the end and confessed he enjoyed super hero movies. I hope he avoided “Daredevil“….
On a funny side note about the movie, “Daredevil”, I did a Walmart coast-to-coast commercial to promote the DVD release. Hardest acting I ever did.
The Big Boss and the Little Bosses
We were also given a chance to interview the director of the film, Doug Barr, and two of the child actors, Bryant and Maggie. It was fantastic to get their point of view from their unique perspectives.
Barr was an actor himself and was now sitting in the director’s chair, calling the shots and watching the scenes from behind the lens. He clearly had an eye for telling a story and making certain that the characters are real. Connections to the characters is the key, according to Barr. Without any sense of caring for the characters and their story, there is no reason why anyone would watch the movie in the first place. Wise words and true on many levels, be it on a movie set or in our everyday lives. If we can’t make a meaningful connection with someone or something, there is no “meaning” to be had at all.
In stark contrast to the director were the two children actors. I was immediately impressed with how well these two children behaved and conducted themselves on and off camera. It was like talking to mini adults! Of course, their parents were nearby at all times and I caught the father’s eye from time to time when we were talking to the children and shared a smile that I think only Dad’s can really appreciate it. Yes, they are actors and, yes, they have a tough job, but these two little kids went about it as one would go about playing an intense game of imagination. They had so much life and energy in them, I could only imagine how much fun it was to work with them and how difficult it would be to keep up. When we watched the scenes being filmed, the children were laughing and engaging the adults and the adults laughed and engaged the children in equal measure.
Homeward Bound and the End Result
The day ended with our last interview and a quick tour of the prop department. The Daddy Bloggers made their way back to the hotel after a long day of successful interviews. At the dinner table that evening, we all went around the table and shared family stories, our thoughts on the day, and discussed how interesting it was to see how a movie was being made. It is not all glitz and glam. There are many people working very hard to make the final product. Echoing the words of Ryan McPartlin, “hard work” but done with a “passion”. I was able to meet many people, those who worked in front and behind the camera, and not a single one of them had what I would consider an easy job. Lifting heavy equipment, acting on demand, capturing that perfect shot, and managing the logistics of the day for 100 or more people were just a few of the jobs I was introduced to.
The next day, we all said our good-byes, thanked Charlotte and Lindsey for their outstanding work, and rushed to make our flights home to our families. It was a fast and furious 3 days and I will not soon forget them. It is not often you are given an opportunity to go see how a movie is made and interview the stars. I never would have thought that my own hard work and passion for the Father Geek would lead me down this road. I wonder if the President of the United States knows about the Father Geek?
As an extra bonus, Walmart and P&G had a filming crew follow the Daddy Bloggers around all day while we were on the movie set. That production company compiled all the video footage from the day, edited it, and provided each Daddy Blogger their own “behind the scenes” exclusive we could share with our readers. So, without further delay, here it is! I must warn you that I am something of a ham when you put me in front of a camera. Also, no one told me I spent a good part of the day with half of my shirt tucked into my belt. Thanks, team.
All of Father Geek’s expenses for this trip were graciously paid for by Walmart and P&G. Father Geek was heavily wined and dined, too, but these actions did not influence this review, only his waistline. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek…and his lack of metabolism.