|Prepping on the Silicon Valley Capital Club balcony|
Such were my thoughts as we stepped out onto the 17th floor balcony of the Silicon Valley Capital Club, and I realized our party numbered six – not 60. The cameras might be a tad closer than anticipated.
Matt and I came to the shoot because our friend Sherif promised us free food and drinks. I imagined the experience would be similar to the time Guy Fieri filmed an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” at the local Tex-Mex restaurant, and my sister and I gawked and gorged on free tortilla chips from a distant table. Or it might mirror my 30th birthday, when same sister drove me to the North Florida boonies to film an amateur rap music video in some redneck’s yard. (I was the oldest, saddest bikini babe alighting from the bed of that 4x4).
This particular project, we came to learn, would promote San Jose tourism via commercials aired on Facebook and YouTube. Sherif’s friend’s friend was part of the crew, and she had recruited other members of Silicon Valley’s Egyptian diaspora to play young tech professionals chatting it up as the sun set over San Jose’s skyline. Ultimately, this amounted to four ex-pats, Matt (who looks vaguely Middle Eastern) and me, the pasty white girl. We were “the talent,” a group in no way representative of any Silicon Valley demographic I’ve ever encountered (who forgot to invite the Asians?!). We clustered around an electric fire pit, watched the planes descend into Mineta San Jose International Airport and awaited direction as the crew, a decidedly more attractive group of hipster 20-somethings, fiddled with their impressive camera equipment. I noticed a drone – the first I’ve seen in person -- tucked behind one of the lounge chairs, and I hovered over it, marveling at the tiny but powerful propellers.
|"Red" doles out the drinks.|
“You guys want drinks?” asked a redhead in casually chic attire. She seemed to be second in command to a bearded fellow sporting a borrowed, stained dinner jacket over a graphic tee. (“Apparently, the Capital Club requires a collar,” he’d said, sheepishly.)
“Yes, that might help,” I said, nervously.
The drinks, when they arrived, were impressive: An electric-blue martini, a rum and cola, a champagne cocktail with raspberry garnish. Red positioned the glasses in our hands, reflected on the placement and then swapped a few between us. I was disappointed to lose the beautiful blue martini to Matt. Both of us were disappointed to learn none of the drinks contained a drop of alcohol. Mine, a martini with two perfect olives, consisted of mere water.
Sherif’s friend’s friend, a petite girl with tight, bouncy curls, ordered an assortment of entrees, and a waiter positioned them around the fire pit: a skillet of meatballs, a shepherd’s pie erupting from its ramekin, king prawns, cheese wedges, grapes and apricot compote. These, at least, were real, but we could only admire the spread until the shoot wrapped.
Once the sun descended enough to cast a golden glow, it was time to shoot. Red directed Matt and Sherif to adjacent chairs on one side of the fire pit and told the two other female “talents” to occupy the chairs on the other. I stood to the side, against the glass balustrade, and chatted with a short, moon-faced guy sporting a fierce chinstrap.
|Sherif, left, and Matt|
“Everybody should be laughing with their mouths open – not just talking – because otherwise, you look like ‘ugh,’” said the still photographer, contorting his face into a grimace.
We laughed for real and then, for the benefit of his camera, with our mouths wide open. Yep, I felt like an idiot.
“Just talk amongst yourselves,” Red said. “There won’t be any sound, so you can talk about whatever you want.”
By now, the Bearded Fellow was filming with a digital SLR, the drone was buzzing overhead and the Photographer was punching his shutter.
“I-don’t-know-what-to-say – ha, ha,” I said, taking a dainty sip of olive-flavored water.
“I-don’t-either – hahahaha,” Sherif said.
Matt happened to be the only guy in a blazer, and the Bearded Fellow asked him and the attractive brunette with the short-cropped jacket to replace the moon-faced guy and I at the balustrade. They launched into a fake-laugh flirtation, and I vacillated between casting the stink eye at this coupling and staring longingly at the steaming shepherd’s pie before me. I decided it would be the first dish I tucked into once the crew let us eat the props.
It would be eight months before Matt and I viewed the final video product; Sherif sent Matt the Facebook link Tuesday. There are hundreds of people featured in the video’s dozen or so vignettes, so I was surprised to see our shoot providing the anchor shots that close out the whole thing. There we are sharing pretend laughter and clinking pretend drinks. Impressively, Matt and his blazer make an appearance in five clips. I think that’s my blurry forehead in the foreground encroaching on one of them.
“My amigos Matt and Megan are so fancy they are literally poster people for the Valley,” our friend Kelsey wrote in a Facebook post.
But Matt took it a step farther.
“I’m the King of San Jose!” he gushed to me via text.
I guess that makes me the queen.