Lights... Camera... Action!

Historic Arkansas Museum - Sunday, February 15, 2015

Have you seen our commercial? “Go back. Go way back. Into your Arkansas history.” These lines are spoken as images of Little Rock’s oldest building are shown inhabited by ghosted images. The commercial shows modern-day tourists visiting the Hinderliter Grog Shop, built around 1827. The place comes alive with ghosted figures dressed in 19th-century clothing. It’s a bustling scene that represents what it may have been like more than 150 years ago in this Little Rock tavern.

The commercial is a mere 30 seconds—but the process from conception to completion took a good deal longer. There was a lot of work before the day of the shoot, and much more after, but here is a quick look behind the scenes of filming day.

It was an early morning in December and a bit on the chilly side. We were lucky, though; the shoot had been cancelled once due to thunderstorms. People started arriving early, before the sun came up. Giant trucks full of equipment. One truck must have been dedicated to storing several dozen tripods alone, or so it appeared. People were busy—checking the light, setting up screens and tracks; eventually a fog machine was used to set the atmosphere in the Hinderliter Grog Shop.

Those who had volunteered to act in the commercial waited patiently as everything was assembled to perfection. Once the film crew was ready for the actors, it seemed like only minutes passed before the filming was over. Then it was on to the next location, the museum’s atrium. This time, things moved more quickly. There weren’t the same challenges there were filming before sunrise in an unlit historic building. After three more locations, the crew wrapped it up—just in time for lunch.

A lot of experts were involved in making the commercial, from the people at the advertising agency to the talented film crew. Nearly everyone employed at the museum helped make things happen in one way or another, from selecting the proper period attire for the actors to taking down and putting back up holiday decorations so that the commercial wouldn’t appear seasonal. And the museum staff proved itself multi-talented as much of the acting was done by staff members.

As always, we were indebted to our loyal volunteers, who also acted in the commercial and posed for publicity shots. They showed their commitment once again—this time by setting their alarms to awaken them in the wee hours of the morning to prepare for a long morning of living like superstars—without the paparazzi.