The first half of winter is almost always more fun than the second. It is a time of festive gatherings, shopping sprees, and hopeful resolutions not yet forsaken. In the height of this season of mirth, I participated in a holiday commercial shot at the Grand Hyatt New York in Midtown Manhattan starring operatic pop sensation Josh Groban.
The video chronicles Mr. Groban’s fictional journey from his Grand Hyatt room, which happens to sport a grand piano, through the hotel to its entrance, where a decked-out rickshaw whisks him away towards “Broadway”—possibly to the Imperial Theatre, at which he is starring now in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812. On his way to the front door, Groban seemingly explores every crevice of the hotel as he knocks on doors and draws followers à la the Pied Piper. Fellow musicians assist as he cycles through holiday favorites including “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Jingle Bells”.
He and his entourage pass through the kitchen, where the chefs appear amused and glad for the break from their monotony. Things really heat up in the main lobby, where another piano awaits. Next thing we know, Groban is belting out a rousing rendition of “Deck the Halls” supported by an array of dancers, acrobats singing children, and amused hotel guests. In spite of all the fun, Mr. Groban is a busy man with places to be and must be on his merry way. He steps out of the hotel, where he finds his rockin’ rickshaw and trusty driver (me) awaiting; together, the two head off to spread joy to the world at large.
Though we often seem to toil in the streets in obscurity, rickshaw riders have a natural affinity for the camera. You’ll find Team Revolution both on-screen strutting our stuff as well as behind the scenes facilitating film logistics on flatbed trikes and the like. Recent moments in the spotlight include the Hyatt promo and an appearance by Revolution’s fearless leader in HBO’s “High Maintenence”; regarding rickshaws as a prop, recently we found a cab of ours on-film in a Comedy Central pilot. Rickshaws are utilized by film crews to capture challenging city shots via mounted cameras, cameramen, and the like. This arrangement can work quite well for steady motion shots and panning location sequences.
Although we have yet to be nominated for any Oscars, we have high hopes for 2017!