You get five minutes of fame, right? I realized I've only used up about a minute of it when I was interviewed on BBC Breakfast back in November and so I still have about four minutes left on my account! I said "yes".
Thus began a long series of emails between myself and Antoinette that culminated in a plan: I would show up at the crew's hotel in the Flatiron District in a taxi for three consecutive nights; the cab would be outfitted with special lights, sound equipment, and cameras, and I myself would have a microphone attached under my shirt; I would meet with Cas, the interviewer and cameraman, and Pepijn, the sound man; and the three of us would cruise around Manhattan for three hours each night in search of material that could later be edited for the show.
And so I became part of a real television production.
One of the crew setting up a camera angle on the big star of the show
Crew member setting up the back seat camera
Passengers shared the back seat with sound man Pepijn
On the second night Cas set up this camera on the hood of the cab
Cas, "NYC Gene", and Pepijn
Video clips from the show:
So how did it go? Mostly it was great fun. And quite flattering that such attention was being paid to me. I will admit to feeling a bit of vindication in the sense that taxi driving is normally a relatively anonymous occupation without any group support. Many things happen that you wish could be witnessed or acknowledged by others. So it was gratifying to finally have that happen in such a big way. They told me close to a million people watch this show every night.
It was also a learning experience. We accumulated more than 7 hours of footage. From that only about 8 minutes of material were actually used. So I learned something about the power of editing. Unless the person being interviewed has some kind of agreement that he has approval rights over the final cut, how he is portrayed is very much in the hands of the editor, or the director via the editor. In this case, I didn't think the material about my personal life was relevant or particularly interesting and I thought the bits at the end of the segments were pretty lame. I wouldn't have included them.
On the other hand, I thought my comments about taxi driving and the interactions with the passengers were presented very well. We had to get the know-how down about getting people to come into the cab, by the way. We found that passengers hailing us from the street didn't want to get into a cab with two guys in the front and another guy with odd machinery in the back. So what we eventually learned was that it was best to park the taxi in a busy night-life area and then Cas would go out on the sidewalk and solicit volunteers. Plus offering a free ride didn't hurt.
My favorite sequence with the passengers was the one with the screaming actress. I should point out that the video she had been in earlier that day was a spoof of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. I think an impression may have been given that she had been in the original, which was not the case. Also the decibel level of her scream was not given justice in that shot. It was much louder! Unfortunately, my comment of "I think you broke my windshield!" was not included. She nearly did! Her name, by the way, is Mika Henderson and she can be contacted at www.myspace.com/sugarnspikes should anyone reading this be in the market for a superb screamer.
Another thing that was left out was that the girl who was with the guy who was so enthusiastic about the celebrities I've had in my cab surprised us, when she learned that the show we were doing was from Holland, by speaking Dutch fluently! It turned out she is from Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America. I thought that was pretty amazing.
So there it is. Cabs Are For Kissing takes to the airwaves. Hope it brings some smiles.