3:38 pm - Today, we're at the main title shoot for Hammer Time. It's being shot at LMA Studios in Pleasanton, which is the city I live actually. It's kind of nice shooting close to home today.
The shoot is being directed by Paul Boyd, a heavily credited music video director who's worked with such talents as Sting, Mariah Carey and Shania Twain.
In case you don't know what a main title sequence is, it's those cool main title shoots that Cosby would do at the beginning of every episode. Well, Hammer Time will feature a similar "Cosbyesque" open, but this time the "big poppa" can actually dance. No offense Bill, we loved The Cosby Show!
So far, the shoot is going really well. Paul shoots each family member individually and then in small groups, Hammer with each family member, Hammer and the girls, Hammer and the boys and then the family as a whole. It's all set against this white background and the family is dressed to the nines. It's so cool to see the pieces of an opening sequence being shot. All those pieces will come together to make one cool main show open.
7:12 pm -We're all done at shooting, it's been a LOONNNGGG day, but it was worth it. It's so cool to see the Hammer family doing their thing. They are truly a family of entertainers.
3:38 pm - Today is actually a chill day here on the set of Hammer Time. We're shooting most of the scenes at Hammer's house today. Stop... Hammer Time! This is crazy, I remember when Hammer first debuted in '87 with Let's Get It Started. This is the man that made hip hop dance music & outfitted a generation in baggy pants It's trippin' me out right now that I'm actually pulling up to the house of someone who's music was not only music that I grooved too, but defined an era and made him.
Our production office is inside Hammer's garage. But let's not forget, we shoot almost every day at this mans home, so having a production office in his garage is just an added bonus. Even though working at his house is exciting, it is the bay area which means it is cold!
7:12 pm - It's the end of the shooting day and Hammer has just enough room to park his car but only after computers and tables are moved closer together. Hammer and his family are great; could you imagine your home being a TV set? Everyday they come home to cameras, audio, still photographers, various producing teams, etc. It must be strange to have all these people working in their garage.
Hammer just pulled his car out of the garage for us. The last thing I want to do is bump against his immaculate car. Hammer loves cars; he calls his latest (a hot orange Dodge Challenger with black racing stripes, fully-loaded, self-starter) "Mac, pure American muscle." I still have a few loose ends to tie up before the night is over, but it's hard to focus with Hammer blasting his music and all. But, I don't mind. If you can't beat 'em, join em. I go to get a snack from the craft services table located on the side of Hammer's house. That way, I have an excuse to see Hammer & his entourage dancing in the driveway.
11:00 am - The camera crew is anxiously awaiting Hammer's arrival at Hammer's dance studio, The Full Blast Playhouse. There's plenty to do as the camera and lights are set up.
12:00 pm - Hammer just pulled up and our camera ops just got a great shot of him coming into the parking lot. The director of photography and the camera ops are so talented. They're a moving picture and I'm a still photographer, of course I appreciate their skills.
As Hammer gets out of his car, the art department panics when they spot a huge rhinestone logo on his shirt. Unless it is licensed or there's a deal with a company, we can't shoot trademarked logos. So the art department covers all trademarked logos for the camera. It looks better than blurring it in post-production, trust me.
Hammer has one more surprise for us since his 10-year-old son Jeremiah is with him today. Hammer went to Jeremiah's 'Take Your Dad to School Day' the morning before; he made a deal with Jeremiah that he would bring him to work with him. So today it's 'Take Your Son to Work Day.'
7:48 am - Now everyone calls Booby or Stanley, Jr. "Little Hammer" because he has a natural talent for just about everything (sports and dancing), but don't sleep on Jeremiah. He got right in there with the dancers at the studio and as his dad explained the dance moves. Once the cameras started rolling, Jeremiah had the routine down. Only 10 and he's hangin' with the big kids.
10:00 am - Of course Marv wants to get in the dance action so Hammer helps him get it right for the cameras!
8:00 am - This morning the crew is prepping gear for the trip to San Francisco. We're shooting Stephanie, Sarah and A'Keiba for their girls' spa weekend. The girls are getting pampered at the Bliss Spa in the W Hotel in San Francisco. The W is gorgeous! It's one of the nicest facilities in the city.
Besides, Stephanie deserves a spa day. Not only does she take care of a big family but for the past week she's been doing it while being filmed for a reality show!
8:30 am - Hammer has emerged from the house for his morning ritual of getting his car out of the garage. He starts up his car but gets into a conversation with one of the producers, so his car stays in the garage while the crew sets up. I'm hoping the office staff doesn't pass out from the carbon monoxide fumes. Okay, Hammer is finally backing the car out, with new Hammer tunes blaring on the car stereo system. There's plenty of bass in Hammer's sound system. Marv is already here along with Big Mike and part of Hammer's entourage. Wait a minute, why is Marv here this morning?
10:00 am - Hammer just said bye to his girls. We're rigging the minivan with a camera so we can shoot interiors of the ladies in Stephanie's car during their drive to the spa. Exciting!
1:00 pm - The girls just arrived at the spa so the crew got plenty of shots of them checking in for their day of pampering then it's off to the spa. Can you imagine being recorded getting a massage? But, it's a reality show, so we're just shooting them living their lives. They'd be doing this whether we were here or not.
5:00 pm - We have just one hour permitted to shoot the girls coming into the W restaurant to have dinner, so we're moving FAST! They open to the public at 6:00 p.m. so we need to be out at exactly that time. The race is on.
1:30 pm - While the girls are away, the boys will play! Stephanie, Sarah and A'Keiba are at the Bliss Spa in San Francisco, so Hammer thinks it's going to be a nice relaxing weekend with the boys. Right! Hammer allows the boys to invite a couple of friends. Well, needless to say things get a bit out of hand and Hammer calls in reinforcements. Marv & Wee Wee! Marv or Lyin' Marv as he's affectionately called by the family and the crew is Hammer's cousin and Wee Wee (who is anything but) is Hammer's childhood friend from Oakland. So let’s take a minute and imagine Hammer's house that day, 12 to 14 pre-teen and teenage boys, plus Hammer, Marv and Wee Wee, it's out of control. But Marv comes up with a great idea to take the kids indoor go-kart racing.
We've gone to shoot the guys at Umigo Indoor Go-Kart race track in Livermore, California. The track looks like a mini Indy 500 track. Marv had the right idea, go-karts was the way to go. It was funny though because once the guys put on their racing suits and head socks, it was like the kids and the adults switched roles. Marv, Wee Wee and Hammer talked more trash than the kids did to each other.
We got some great footage of the boys all racing around the track. Watching Marv zip around the tracks was hilarious! He's such a big guy, in a tight purple racing suit, but he was flying around in a little go-kart. That racing suit fit a little snug though! Hammer loves to give Marv nicknames and today Lyin' Marv has become The Purple Guppie. Hilarious!
The races were fun to watch. You can go up to 45 mph! One of the camera guys fell backwards while trying to stand on a stack of tires. The guys helped break the fall and he landed sitting in a tire.
3:00 pm - Hammer was so PUMPED after the go-kart race, that he kept his racing suit and head sock on during his interview. It was like interviewing Shaq after a big game.
5:00 pm - Back at the house, Hammer, the kids and his entourage are just hanging out on the driveway. It was lots of male bonding going on.
5:48 pm - The camera crew grabbed gear to shoot Hammer giving an impromptu boxing demo to the boys on some banana trees in the driveway. Juice and pulp from the tree went flying with each punch. Sammy was in awe and all the boys got a boxing lesson & shot at the tree.
5:48 pm - The crew and I are at San Francisco Airport waiting to catch a flight at 6:30 in the morning for VEGAS! That's right we're going to Vegas to do an episode for the show. So cool to be on location in Vegas, but it's still way too early in the morning. We left for the airport at 4:00 in the morning. But, we're getting the 1st class treatment from Virgin America, who actually has a marquee over the ticket counter and gate that reads "Virgin America Hammer Time … Can't Touch This!"
We're finally in Vegas Baby! We're waiting at the airport to shoot Hammer and his family as they leave the plane. Wish I were on the plane with Hammer but only one camera & the director flew with him to shoot the flight.
It’s funny because we're all at the bottom of the escalator, camera's ready, to catch Hammer & the crowd is very curious about whom the big star is.
6:30 pm - Arrived at the Palms. Hammer loves Vegas so much he even wrote a song, "Keeping it Vegas". We're going over to his Mom's house to get her set up for her move back to California. I don’t know why I'm nervous about meeting Hammer's mom.
7:41 pm - Got to hang out and talk with Hammer's Mom, Betty. I'm alone at her house making sure all is set for when the movers arrive. I don't know how we got on the subject but turns out she was on the Oprah show 20 years ago, she was also offered a chance to be on the Food Network.
3:40 pm - They're all dancing to one of Hammer's new songs, "I Got Gigs". Of course Hammer has a dance to go with it and he's talking to the director about how he wants the cameras to capture it. Certain angles he wants shot in particular. It's the only time I've seen Hammer ask for certain camera shots.
5:00 pm - They are reshooting the dance from another angle for Hammer. I can understand why though, it's Hammer's new creation & this could be the next big dance craze.
12:00 pm - Not sure how the camera crew resists dancing to Hammer's new song, well I did catch an audio dude tapping his toe.
2:00 pm - Camera is shooting Hammer as he's shooting a video for his blog using his G3
3:00 pm - Jeremiah is now shooting video of his Dad. You can tell he totally looks up to his father.
8:00 pm - Sammy (Hammer's youngest son) snuck out into the garage, I think he's fascinated by all these people hanging out in his garage. I mean he's only 3 years old, it must be strange, but Stephanie told us that Sammy asks if he can come out to see his friends every day (meaning the crew). But to him it's got to be fascinating watching his Mom & Dad being filmed live on the monitors. Now it's probably even more interesting as he sits on the director's lap watching the monitors and seeing his parents getting captured on film.
8:30 pm - We're done shooting for the day. At the end of the day, the director of photography and camera ops like to play back the footage in their cameras to see how it looks, looks like they're pleased with what they have.
9:00 pm - Hammer came out to the garage to move his car in his robe he was wearing in the last segment. It's so surreal, I'm in Hammer's garage, he’s in a robe & slippers. Never pictured this in my future! He's in good spirits after another successful day of shooting. He’s checking out some of the footage and getting a good laugh, I don't know what footage he was watching off the monitor but he sure liked it.
We're in Hawaii for the last week of shooting, can't believe it! I mean we've followed this family from Northern California to Vegas to Hawaii. We're at the vow renewal ceremony for Hammer and Stephanie. The family is all decked out in tuxes and Hawaiian dresses.
9:35 pm - After the wedding photographer got a family shot Hammer called me over to get a shot of the family. I looked at the director for approval to go in the tent since the cameras were rolling since I usually shoot after the scene is filmed. Our director gave me a reluctant nod, but I was ready to go in and do my thing. I ran into the reception tent and got a shot of the family together. It was the highlight of my entire time on the crew and a great way to finish out the season!