Back in June 2017, we got cast for our first family television commercial, working with TOMY. I was both excited and nervous. Excited that we would all be involved, nervous that my angel babies are now 22 months and have a mind of their own – The days offalling asleep in actors arms are long gone!
Once we found out we all had the job, we had to travel back to London to meet with the director to go through the scenes, discuss what was expected of us, and to agree make up and outfits for us all. It was at this meeting we were given our ‘homework’.
We were asked to work with the girls, teaching them to clap, laugh and smile when given a certain command which all sounds far easier than it actually is – And we only had two days to do this in! But we got to work and after wracking our brains around how we were going to approach this, surprised ourselves at how easily the girls followed our commands – when we said smile, they smiled. When we said laugh, they laughed. And when we said clap, they clapped. Now don’t get me wrong, this was great but they would only do this when they were in the mood! They do say never work with children or animals!
About the Shoot
It was a two day shoot with a lot to fit in. I was concerned about nap times – I knew they would need this to get them through. Everyone was so child friendly and accommodating to make sure this happened. We were shooting 5 different commercials for 5 different toys and due to legal timings, only had 4 hours to do this in! The girls totally rose to the occasion and did us proud. I was sceptical about them performing on the director’s instruction; I thought we would have a lot of tantrums but they listened so carefully and responded to what we were asking – all the attention was on them and the crew made such an effort to get to know the girls – the cameraman and director in particular.
The shoot weekend is here!
Our curtains opened at 5.45am on Friday morning – Thank goodness my first stop is makeup! (We have two very good sleepers here and just one early morning now seems like the hardest thing in the world!). I am someone who never leaves the house without make up, that’s just me-probably a lack of confidence!
With the boot full to the brim with everything but the kitchen sink, our driver set off to the set in London.
I think it would be fair to say Tristan and I had mixed emotions about this. Excitement – we were about to film our first family commercial all together. Nerves – nerves for us. We were nervous, neither or us had ever acted in our lives and we were about to be on TV. Nerves – nerves for the girls. How would they be on set now they are toddlers. Toddlers who have their own agenda and will have tantrums whenever they feel necessary! Will they follow direction? We had 5 toys to film commercials for, that’s a lot of focused time to get the right shots, to follow direction. Let’s face it, it’s good going if they play with a toy for longer than 5 mins at home, and now they are going to be asked to play with one for an hour, in the same spot, doing the same thing over and over again. Can you see why I’m nervous! Embarrassment- everyone who knows us will see this. They haven’t picked the clothes we would usually wear, our hair and make up is different; I’ll wear less make up and Tristan will have more hair!! Haha
As we approached North London I started to worry about the girls. I haven’t seen the schedule for the day and I always like to be clear in my head what the plan is; when they need to eat, when they will nap etc. We had our wonderful Nanny, Emma with us to help organise the girls and make sure all of this happened!
As soon as we arrived I went straight to make up and then had a run through of the scenes I was be acting with Poppy in. It was just the two of us for the first shoot, in a tiny bathroom with the director and a cameraman. It really is amazing to see how they create it all. The clients from Tomy sat out in the hallway and watched on a screen. They have to sign off each scene to say they are happy with it before we can move onto the next.
With everything in place and me supposedly knowing what I am doing, little Poppy is brought into me, who luckily, is super excited to be having a bath!
In Poppy went with the toy and lots of bubbles. After 5 scenes, retake after retake, smiles, laughs and claps from Poppy and lots of cheering from the corridor, the first commercial was signed off. It was now time she went off to bed for a nap, but she didn’t forget to pee on daddy first!!
Meanwhile downstairs, Tabitha had been snoozing and was ready for her turn in the bath. She had two toys to model for. I still can’t get over how well my two babies followed direction. They were asked to do some complex moves on their own; pull this, turn that, hold the pot there, squirt this at mummy, catch the water and after a few practices they had cracked it – they were on top form and being amazing! The crew were fantastic to work with. Very child friendly and worked hard with the girls to build up their trust. This was massively important to me that they got on with the crew and they did.
The hardest part of it all was keeping the girls birthmarks covered as they did not have identical ones. We covered them with bubbles; but bubble that have a tendency to slip and disappear. The makeup girl worked very hard to make sure she had a constant supply of bubbles to hand to put over them. The reason for this was that they girls were doubling for each other so they had to look the same for continuity in the shots.
The afternoon flew by, two more toys to film and all of us filming. The timings are very strict with children and they had to be finished after 5 hours. But in that 5 hours, they are only allowed to film for 2 of those, hence twins. 2 hours each and an hour for lunch. Production could be inspected at any time so they have to stick to this. The girls did well but started to get a little more fidgety near the end. This was understandable as they were being so so good. They don’t usually play with a toy for longer than 5 mins at home, so an hour was good going. I couldn’t complain. We chopped the girls in and out this afternoon which worked well. It meant they could relax in between!
The girls were asked to pull this, turn that, shake this, can you clap, can you splash, put this in there, over and over again, but the girls were having a ball. I honestly didn’t think we were going to have such an easy time with them filming. But this goes to show that filming with toddlers is very possible!
The second day was just a few hours in a toy store. We were filming the opening scenes for each toy. Each commercial would all start in the same way. The shelves had to be stocked with just Tomy products so the team worked very hard to change everything they needed. We were all involved in these scenes with the girls being swapped in and out and before we know it, we had finished. It was a wrap! Such a fun few days for all of us. We had all worked very hard and I was looking forward to that glass of wine that was chilling back at home!
And so a few month on, here we are – Would you like to see the finished commercials?!
Go on then…