“Hey, do you think you can possibly make me a funny video for the website? Just like thirty seconds or so?”
Why not? I thought. How hard could a thirty second video possibly be, right? Enter: the clapping monkey, my neat-freak mother, and a stubborn Roomba. I soon found out how incredibly wrong I was.
When my boss, Jeff, first asked me to do the small project, I was excited. It would serve as a nice break from the typical humdrum routine of a regular workday. Jeff described to me the basic concept of the video. “Sounds easy enough,” I told him. “I’d be glad to do it.” I called my uncle David, a film student at Emerson college, and asked for his help since he has both a nice camera and editing software on his computer. Thinking he would be even half as excited about it as I was really showed some naivety on my part. “Are you serious? A clapping monkey?” he asked me, incredulous to the offer. “I direct films, Mark. Motion pictures. Why should I lower myself to some cheesy side-project like this?” “I’ll give you fifty bucks,” I told him. “Be over in a few.”
With my uncle now aboard and all the props in my possession, I was ready to go. We needed a slightly open area with a hardwood floor. Hey, my living room would be perfect! I went upstairs and moved the couch and coffee table to supply the necessary space we would need to film. I then ripped open the package of glitter and dumped it on the floor, ready to spell out Total Vac. “Is your mom going to be cool with this?’” asked my uncle. “Yeah, definitely,” I replied. Cool she was not…
I heard the car pull into the driveway and the front door open. It hadn’t hit me until she was walking up the stairs that maybe, just maybe, to avoid potentially killing my mother of a heart attack, I should have ran the idea by her first. I looked to the top step and saw my mom frozen there, completely emaciated and flush. Now my mom prides herself on the cleanliness of her house. Her overall mood is directly correlated with how tidy our home is. So you can imagine her face when she walked into her precious living room and saw the couch turned sideways, the coffee table pushed into the corner, about a pound of glitter dumped onto her floor, and film equipment scattered everywhere. Dropping both her shopping bags and her jaw down to the floor with a heavy thud, she said “What. In. God’s. Name…” Being a typical guy, I tried to downplay the whole thing to quickly extinguish the glowing flames in her eyes. “Mom, it’s like…not a big deal.” Oh, wrong move, Mark.
“See, told you she’d be cool with it,” I told my uncle after the brutal thirty minute verbal lashing we received on the importance of 1. a clean home, 2. asking permission to do things like this, and for some reason 3. how it wouldn’t hurt for me to cook dinner for the family every once in a while (I didn’t even dare ask how this was relevant to the mess in the living room). “Alright, let’s film this thing and clean up before she comes back with more things to yell about,” said my uncle David.
Once the words “Total Vac” were spelled out in glitter, we placed the spastic clapping monkey on the Roomba vacuum. “OK so it should just suck up the words in order right when I turn it on,” I said, assuming it would in fact be that easy. What I did not take into account was the unwritten law of the universe that states; “Mark Bruno must always be wrong roughly 100% of the time.” This ubiquitous law came into effect here. With the lights blazing down on the scene and the film rolling, I pushed the “Clean” button on the monkey-attired vacuum. Flying out of the frame and heading for the kitchen, the Roomba decided right then and there that the pile of glitter was not its first priority. “Ummm…” I said to my uncle who stared blankly back at me. “Shall we try that again?”
Take two: rolling directly past the glitter and knocking the monkey off the top of it, the vacuum spot-cleaned the area underneath my couch. Thanks, I guess.
Take three: four nice figure eights by the flight of stairs.
Take ten: nah.
Take seventeen: not even close, but at least the kitchen floor was clean.
“Give me this thing,” said my uncle, losing his patience. “We’re going to do this in five takes. Aim it right at the words and let it sweep across once. Once it gets out of frame, grab it and I’ll stop the camera,” David said with a stern and urgent tone. “Then, turn it back and face it the other way. I’ll hit record again and we’ll repeat this about three or four more times. Ready?!” he yelled. “ACTION, DAMN IT!”
Thankfully, his method worked quite nicely for us. After a total of almost three hours had passed, and our blood pressures were through the roof, we finally finished shooting. “First, don’t ever ask me to do anything like this again. Ever. Second, tell your boss I will have this thing edited and ready by tomorrow afternoon. Third, give me my fifty bucks.” “Sure thing,” I said. “Any way you would want to stay and help me clean the living room?” I asked him. I got my answer to the question in the form of his car peeling out of my driveway.
So there you have it; A thirty-eight second video clip of a clapping monkey riding a Roomba vacuum sweeping up the words “Total Vac.” And to think, it only took one frustrated mother, one stressed out uncle, and one short-fused employee. Please enjoy our video. Enjoy it enough for all of us, because there’s no way we will be able to after all of that.