Here we are, crossing 5th Avenue after yet another fruitful session of 'what special edition DVDs can we find in the Virgin Megastore that haven't made it to our shores yet... and look, only $10', when this nice blonde lady stops us in front of a rather potent cart of 'street meat'. She quickly explains that her good friend, who just happens to be 'the best casting agent in NYC', has asked her to keep a peeled eyeball out for interesting faces around the city. She then rather excitedly goes on to tell us it's all for an upcoming Converse print campaign to shoot in the next couple weeks. O... Kay. "Here... take down her number on that mangled DVD receipt from your back pocket, and call her as soon as you can!!" Obviously this doesn't happen to TWiN every day (it tends to be more of a weekly to bi-weekly occasion)... so needless to say we were surprised, and there was definitely more than our regular required dose of cynicism.
So, four days go by... and it's only on the morning of the fifth day that we come across this now almost unreadable strip of paper from my back pocket. We look at each other and giggle like little girls. We argue about who's going to call... like little girls. I say, "It's ringing", in a high-pitched squeal like a skinny 6'1 little girl that hasn't shaved in a week. For some reason the assistant on the phone asks "is this one of the twins?" [I SHIT you NOT], and before you know it we're standing in a painfully slow elevator on our way up to get our photos taken at the Soho casting office.
(I'll speed through this next bit in point form)... Photos of us are quick, digital, and subsequently quite lame. We're pretty sure we have zero chance. The mood boards and designs for the campaign look quite cool though, and we're pleasantly surprised that they want 'black & white 70's indie-punk-cool' over 'cheesy American kids smiling so wide you wanna kick a puppy'. They give us the "we'll call you when we hear something", and we leave the building expecting that we've just scored a cool New York story, but not much else.
Soon enough we get a call from the casting office - "The photos aren't great... we're gonna need to get you in to take some better ones". Again we find ourselves in one of Manhattan's slowest elevators on our way to the office of John Varvatos. We quickly assume this must be the famous photographer on the job ('cause that's certainly how the room comes across), and we sit there flicking through his massive leather-bound folio. Justin, Tom Cruise, Usher, Hugh Jackman, LL, Matthew Fox... and... TWiN(?!?) Our churning guts switch up a gear. Turns out John Varvatos is the fashion designer [derr!], and a pretty friggin well-known one too! [Lucky we didn't compliment him on his 'work' huh?] We meet... he's all smiles... a little gay... jokes that we're gonna have to get naked... they snap a few (moderately) better photos, NOT NAKED... and we're suddenly back in the elevator not knowing much more than we did 20 minutes ago.
A little more than a week goes by, and we're in the back of a cool coffee shop when my phone rings. It's bloody hard to hear much of anything, but I do seem to catch the words, "You've just booked Converse". Pity the shoot's over in NY, while we're supposed to be on a 14 hour flight back to Sydney from LA! Ultimately we decide, 'if the client loves us, and the agency loves us, and the designer loves us... they'll make it happen.' And they did. Flights back to New York from LA, a hotel for 2 nights, and a car with a driver waiting out front to take us to set.
The shoot was crazy. Needless to say, we're usually on the other side of the camera when shoot's get crazy... but it was cool to experience how a fashion shoot goes down on the opposite side of the globe. There were stunningly gorgeous females, iconic Brooklyn locations, and more TV On The Radio blearing from a boombox than you can shake a big American stick at. The track 'Wolf Like Me' is now a permanent reminder of grab-assing/rooftop-pissing/water-spitting/trash-diving craziness that was the New York shoot for Converse - John Varvatos 2006. Big thank you to photographer Cass Bird, Jennifer & crew, and Mr Varvatos. Only in mofo'n New York City.
[You can peep the final Converse ads in the blog post 'It's in the pudding'].