Transmission 5.6.2011 The Greatest Day Ever

The day started as 04:30 when my alarm went off and I got out of bed. I made some coffee, collected my gear and got in the van to pick up the rest of the crew; our flight was at 07:00 so we had to be at the Jetblue terminal to go through the whole TSA experience by 06:00. We were heading to Altoona, PA to document something that at the same time seemed completely ridiculous and completely genius; for 60 days Altoona was going to be renamed “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.”

Let me explain: Morgan Spurlock’s new film “Pomm Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” opened on April 22 in a limited number of theaters. The film is100% funded by corporations like Jetblue (hence the free flight), Pom Wonderful, Sheetz etc. and, in a more is about the proliferation of corporate sponsorship and branding. You can check out the trailer here
As a publicity grab, Spurlock solicited Pomm Wonderful, the Sheetz corporation and others to put up $25,000.00 which would be paid to the city of Altoona, PA in exchange for the renaming of their city to “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” for 60 days.

So you may wonder where I fit into all of this? I was part of the crew that documented Spurlock’s adventures in Altoona for the DVD extras of the film.

When we arrived at the Jetblue terminal, there were about 80 people preparing to board. It was a mix of corporate representatives of the various sponsors, press people and the Spurlock crew. Since Jetblue was a sponsor, the flight was provided by them free of charge. Spurlock rolled up wearing a suit jacket emblazoned with logos from the various sponsors similar to the way NASCAR rolls. It was early in the morning, but the dude was “on,” being sure to not miss any photo ops.

We landed in State College, PA at approximately 09:00. The airport was pretty much one building; we exited the plane directly onto the tarmac and the first thing I saw was an SUV with a massive Sheetz logo on the side of it. There were photo ops and all kind of posing going on. The 80 person entourage boarded two buses and dug in for the 40 mile drive to Altoona.

The day was spent shooting and recording all of the miscellaneous publicity-oriented activities such as the Renaming Ceremony. Sheetz put up most of the money. I think it was a figure in the range of $25,000.00 which Spurlock hanged over to the mayor and it was official: Altoona, PA was officially going to be known as “Pomm Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.” I suppose if you have enough money you can make anything happen.

It was all in good fun, but I couldn’t help but feel a little unsettled by the whole thing. It’s bad enough that I had to see Danzig play at a place called “Best Buy Center”. It made me think about the beginning of the Fight Club movie where Ed Norton is doing the voice-over about how space travel will be funded by the corporations and we’ll have Planet Starbucks and other such dehumanizing things to look forward to. I also realize that the movie is making a statement about corporate sponsorship and branding, but irony is a dangerous thing. I mean look what happened to mustaches; it started out as a funny thing to do, like, “hey, I know mustaches used to be faux pas, but look how clever I am!’ It only took a couple of years before dudes wear sporting these things seriously, as if it was some kind of profound statement about their individuality.

As the early evening rolled in, we found ourselves at this intense-looking theater, the Shriners theater, where the film was going to be premiered. I was looking forward to checking this out, but as the lights went down, I slipped off to sleep. I woke up just in time to watch the last 30 minutes of the movie.

It was a long day. One of the take-aways from the day, was a brief Q & A session Spurlock did with a group of Juniata College kids. It wasn’t part of the program, just a sort of impromptu thing. No one was filming it, but I had him mic’ed up so I hit record. You can check part of it out here

After the movie, I woke up and ate some of the free food that was offered. We still had a flight to catch back to New York so it was back on the bus for the 40 mile trek back to the airport.
I was home by 03:00 the next morning. It was a 21 hour day,


One Response to “Transmission 5.6.2011 The Greatest Day Ever”

  1. Google has enough money now to buy the entire music industry many times over. At some point a corporation will buy the United States. In name, that is – not just in practice.

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