Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eating On TV

There's a lot of waiting on the set of a TV show. I learned that having plenty of patience and a decent distraction to be absolute necessities when working on a show. I've had the opportunity to work on a couple TV shows lately for competitive eating related segments.

The first of which was as a technical advisor for the FOX TV show "Bones". Despite the allure of working on a popular show, I ended up putting in some long hours over the course of 3 weeks, casting, planning and sitting in during episode meetings; it was actually a lot of hard work. The production team for the show wanted to film an episode under the back drop of an eating competition - "The Hot Dog In The Competition" and it was up to me to cast competitive eaters, coordinate the logistics of an eating contest during the shoot and advise on the details in regards to all the things involved during an eating competition.

After that, when we were ready to begin filming the eating segments, there were hours of waiting spent between the filming the scenes and time was spent mostly hanging out with the cast and production crew. Though I don't really watch the show, so I only had a vague idea of how everything would fit together. This was resolved after getting a copy of the script and participating in the episode meeting which ended up with me getting excited over how they would  portray competitive eating on television.

Due to the closed set policy of the studio, I wasn't able to get any pictures on set but they did manage to film a behind the scenes segment for the episode:

Although there ended up being a lot of extras with no real competitive eating experience cast, I managed to get some of my local competitive eating friends involved including Naader Reda, Matt Cohen, Aaron Ybarra and Jed Donahue. I also ended up casting a personal friend to play the victim of the episode who I had a lot of fun with in coaching to portray a champion competitive eater. The amount of food we had to sort out for the episode was staggering. Literally hundreds of hotdogs, bananas, chicken wings and oysters were prepared for the various shoots. They hired a catering truck to sort out the contest food and we filmed multiple scenes involving these items. Fortunately, we didn't have to actually consume much of the food because of the magic of editing and we were allowed to spit any food we had in our mouths into a plastic bucket underneath the competition table after every take.

There was a lot of waiting in between setting up each scene so I walked around and picked at the generous catering selection they had set up for the cast and production staff. Though the real highlight of working on the show was the big hot dog eating contest scene which took a full day to shoot. I ended up casting myself for this scene and enjoyed working with actor Skyler Stone on our close race to the finish of an intense hot dog eating contest. The production team let me use Emily Deschanel's stand in while they set up the cameras and lights which freed me up to further wander around and eat more food from the catering table. Despite the long hours and all the waiting, working on the show was definitely a positive experience.

I also worked on the TV show "DVD On TV" for FX. This was for a noodle eating segment against one of the show's hosts, Jennifer Lothrop, while other host, Dave Holmes commentated. There was a lot of waiting for this one too though it was especially challenging since we filmed the segment around 11pm. That's much later than I'm normally used to eating. They ended up wearing panda outfits to fit in the theme of the show and the segment was a lot of fun to shoot.

Though the noodles were pretty gross after sitting out for a while, I managed to eat four bowls worth during the one minute contest while panda Jennifer worked on her only bowl. We had Taco Bell brought in after the shoot and the cast and crew had a very late dinner. Following up the noodles with bean burritos was a weird mix but the staff was entertained by the notion of me continuing to eat after the segment we just filmed. At least I didn't have to wear a panda suit.

Lastly, I posted a new video to my youtube channel to promote these TV appearances I'm making and did a fan requested eating stunt in the process:

I've definitely enjoyed working both behind and in front of the camera and plan to continue perusing more TV opportunities in the future. The only gig better than getting paid to eat it getting paid to eat on TV.