Recently, I was granted access to the filming of Lebron James’s brand new Samsung commercial for the 2013-2014 NBA season. What some may never really consider is what it takes to direct a basketball giant like James. Fortunately, I had my recorder handy so I was able to grab a few sound bytes and transcribe them here to give you a glimpse into the process …
TO LEBRON, IN HIS TRAILER:
Okay, so Lebron, let’s be real. Despite being the best basketball player in the world, a lot of people still hate you. In fact, I did a little bit of research and I found that the better you play basketball, the more everyone actually hates you. Heck, even I hate you a little bit and most of my knowledge of the sport comes from when I was third assistant director on the 1996 Whoopi Goldberg movie, “Eddie.”
So with that, I was thinking, and please keep an open mind about this … How about we make a commercial where you’re playing as little amount of basketball as possible?
What do you think? Sound good? Fantastic. We’ll see you on set in five.
SCENE 1 – HANGING OUT WITH HIS KIDS:
So Lebron, I know we didn’t tell you and I hope it’s okay but we invited your kids to be in the commercial. I know, I know. I’m really sorry we didn’t tell you but just think of it this way – your kids are going to act as a shield for all the hate and furious anger that the masses will project as you appear onscreen. Now all those beams of rage emitting from all those basketball fans, or as you call them “inferior human beings,” will shoot right at the television and instead of hitting you, they’ll hit your poor (er, I mean wealthy), innocent children. Perfect, right? This way, people watching won’t hate you because they’ll be too busy hating themselves for stooping so low that now they’re hating little kids. It’ll really give them new perspective on their small, trivial lives. So much so that when you’re playing your next road game, and you hear them boo, you’ll know – they’re not booing you, they’re booing their inner demons.
Oh and not to mention, this will also make your kids SAG eligible!
SCENE 2 – THE BACKYARD:
Now, Lebron, I assure you our location scout in no way thinks it’s believable that you live in a house with an unbarricaded backyard. The line producer just saw it listed on Craigslist and the day rate was too good to pass up. Also, if it makes you feel any better, I’m pretty sure Will Smith passes by this place on his speedboat in the “Miami” video. If I can’t sell you on that fact then just fire me now.
[Director is fired]
[Director is rehired]
Wow, now I know how Mike Brown feels …
[No one laughs]
Look, I don’t even get that joke. My son just told me to say it as a way to break the ice on this already extremely tense shoot.
SCENE 3 – LEBRON JR. DUNKING:
Hey, look! Little Lebron is dunking just like you when you were eight years old. Except on a hoop 9 feet shorter … and next to a pool … behind a mansion. That’s how you got good, right?
SCENE 4 – WORKING OUT:
[People in lab coats, holding clipboards surround Lebron]
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hey, Lebron, we gotta get all these people out of here.
[They’re all shoed off set]
Now, I know you’re proud that you have your very own staff of highly intelligent scientists/trainers that would make even Ivan Drago jealous, but this is no way to get the public on your side. If you want more people to like you, you’re going to have to allow them to relate to you a little more. How about we get your kids back in here? Huh, how does that sound? Great, right?
[Lebron’s kids are peacefully napping nearby when a 20-something year-old production assistant, who currently is illegally making less than minimum wage, goes over and begins violently yelling and shaking them out of their slumber. Half asleep, they drag their feet as they’re forced back on set.]
Okay, now, littlest Lebron, how about you sit on your dad’s back while he does a push-up?
Oh no! Please don’t cry! I promise, only two more hours and you can go back to sleep.
Seriously, it will only be two hours tops. Otherwise, we’ll have to hire an on-set tutor and that’ll put us over budget and I’ll get fired thus forcing me to go back to directing music videos for Korean boy bands.
SCENE 4 – LEBRON & HIS WIFE ON THEIR SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET:
Lebron, when you’re finished doing literally anything and everything your heart desires with a simple swipe of a finger on your iPhone 5s, we’re ready to shoot the next scene where you and your wife, for some reason, look on a Samsung tablet at pictures of you two together, as if that’s actually a common activity young couples do all the time – where they lay around and look at fairly recent pictures of themselves – together – on something that isn’t an Apple product.
SCENE 5 (FINAL) – THE LEBRON FAMILY IN THE DRIVEWAY:
So this is our last and final scene and again, I just want to thank you, Lebron, for letting me direct this commercial. It’s a huge pleasure and now I’ll feel less gross that the check I pay my rent with will be as a result from working on this and not because I filmed a bunch of weird, aggressive visuals for the singing duo sensation that’s sweeping all of south Asia called “The Psy-mese Twins.” As you can probably guess, they’re like Psy … but two of them.
Okay, so for this scene, I wanted to try something a little different. Something experimental. I figured since this is such an already deep look into your personal life that maybe you should get behind the camera. Yeah, you should direct this scene.
[Lebron appears unsure]
How’s that sound?
[Lebron shakes head in disagreement]
Ah, c’mon. You’ve done so well up until now. You shoot the last shot. It’ll make a great story!
Well, all right, then. Fine. Change of plans, everybody! Lebron is not going to take the last shot!
[crew members whisper amongst each other: “Lebron’s not taking the last shot … he’s not taking the last shot? No, he doesn’t want to take the last shot …”]
Where’d Lebron go? We’re losing daylight!
Okay, um, let’s just get his kids in here again … What? They’re over time? Dammit …
Ugh. Fine … MARIO!
[Mario Chalmers walks in]