Last week I was booked for an out-of-town photoshoot for Timberland Pro Series in Milford, Iowa. Here’s where my mind and I went…
- Plan Accordingly
- Check In With Your Agent
- The Only Time Being On Time Doesn’t Matter
- If You Booked the Job, You’re Perfect
- My Brother Is a Real Man, I pretend
- Can’t Wait to See The Finals!
If the weather is supposed to be bad — it was — and the shoot is out-of-town — it was — plan accordingly.
Made it to Iowa ahead of the storm. Thanks for the welcome! pic.twitter.com/wG5re9g7dr
— Michael Venske (@michaelvenske) March 23, 2016
Leave early. Give yourself time. Drive slowly. Enjoy the scenery.
Also: when you do arrive in the city of the shoot location do a test-drive from the hotel to the shooting location. Call time shouldn’t be something you worry about.
Because the weather was supposed to be bad and the Minnesota State Patrol advised not traveling, I decided to check in with my agent. I figure if our roles were reversed I’d want to know she made the drive safely. Common courtesy, right?
My agent wrote back saying she WAS worried and that my message was a welcome relief.
Let’s make our agent’s jobs easier, talent.
The photoshoot location was Milford, Iowa. I’ve never been to a lot of places and Milford was one of them.
When I arrived I was hungry. There were all the familiar American favorites in Milford: Perkins, Subway, Godfather’s Pizza, Jimmy John’s… But I wanted something I’d never enjoyed before. The first thing I did was cruise the main drag in search of an authentic small town diner.
Unfortunately at 5PM on Wednesday The Bird House Cafe was already long closed for the day. However, I knew exactly where I’d be dining Thursday morning!
What I didn’t know was where I’d find dinner that evening. So I turned to Yelp, but it didn’t help.
Apparently Milford — part of Iowa’s Number One Vacation Destination, the Okoboji Lakes — is a huge tourist destination. Great for the warm weather months, kinda crummy the night before a massive dumping of snow. Most of the places recommended were closed for the season.
After visiting my third closed business, I deleted Yelp and started driving aimlessly.
Eventually I found Smiles With Miles. It’s here I was introduced to a burger I’d never experienced before: the Charlie Boy.
And if you’re not familiar with Iowa food culture you may not have any idea what a Charlie Boy is either…
Basically it’s a Sloppy Joe without the slop. Read all about this Iowa specialty here.
We’re talkin’ a scoop of loose meat between buns, slice of cheese, pickles, diced onions, mustard and ketchup. These Iowa delicacies are also called: Maid-Rites, Tastees, Taverns, or simply Loosemeats.
The Charlie Boy is to Iowa as the Jucy Lucy is to Minnesota.
When in Rome, right?!
Oh, and I also discovered convenience stores in Iowa sell alcohol! Not just shitty 3.2 beer, but booze! That’s convenience! Thanks, Iowa! (Get it together, Minnesota.)
The next morning I was the first customer at The Bird House Cafe. I was also the only customer. The owner and I had a nice conversation about her grandkids helping run the restaurant… I wouldn’t have found THAT at Perkins!
(Bird House’s everything-omelet kept me full all day too — much appreciated! A solid 3 on the IBEC scale.)
My only regret is not getting over to the local donut shop, Wyman’s Spudnuts. But now I have a reason to return!
Milford received 8″ of snow and then 45 mph wind gusts. Drifts happened, people.
When I woke Thursday morning the hotel hadn’t plowed and all the cars were essentially barricaded inside the 24″ wake of snow left by Milford’s Public Works. I wasn’t sure my Volkswagen would be able to escape the icy fortress. But with a small town diner and a call time on the line, I made it happen.
What shocked me though when I arrived five minutes before the 8AM call at the shoot location, a Polaris manufacturing plant, was that I was the only one there…
The producer, photographer, clients, wardrobe, first AD — everyone — was absent! It was another 20 minutes before they arrived. So basically the only time being on time doesn’t matter is when you’re the boss.
And sure, I didn’t mind making first contact and chatting with the friendly staff at Polaris. Hell, my family’s always been a Polaris family! But answering questions about locations and details isn’t my job.
I did, however, manage to find a great parking space! I figured there was too much snow on the road for motorcycles anyway.
There are certain areas where I have extreme confidence (living/teaching in China) and others where I have none (modeling).
I am not a model.
Sure, I’ve booked modeling gigs before — Minnesota Opera and most recently, Sportsman’s Guide — but I’m not a model model.
While waiting in the holding area the shoot’s producer made an off-the-cuff remark about my headshot and how I look like I’m 15…
Which is totally true…and AWESOME! Because I have a HUGE age range…!
Would you believe my other headshot was taken the same day?
Because it was.
Then the producer said, “We looked at 150 different men. You’re our guy.”
So yeah, if you book the job, you’re golden…usually.
In June 2013 at the end of my first year in China I was approached by an online retailer to model 400+ winter coats. I agreed. We shot all day in a hot office. They paid well and took me to dinner.
A few months later I was looking at their online store searching for my shots and discovered they replaced me with a model model. Probably some foreigner they found at the train station. Handsome bastard… But they still paid me. So what’s that, win-lose?
But between shots I managed to catch a glimpse of what the camera was seeing. I didn’t see me. I saw my brother Daniel, the man’s man.
It was odd and uncomfortable because I knew I didn’t earn the manly look. I was in costume.
Let me show you what I mean…
This picture perfectly captures the differences between my younger brother, Daniel, and me.
There’s nothing my brother can’t drive, fix, or kill. I’m the opposite.
He’s driven tanks in the National Guard, big rigs across America, and snowmobiles on mountaintops.
He’s fixed everything from lawn mower and semi engines.
He’s an excellent shot with each of his 20+ long rifles and handguns. Don’t believe me? Ask the buck hanging in his living room.
Being booked still doesn’t make any sense to me…
My brother always looks rugged & manly. I wear rugged & manly as a costume. #actorslife #photoshoot
— Michael Venske (@michaelvenske) March 24, 2016
All that being said, I can’t wait to see the final images. Whenever they come out I’ll pass ’em along.
Thanks for reading, friends.