I’m in the process of updating my portfolio with lots of new work but in the meantime I figured I’d share some old news. I was cast to do 3 commercials a while back but somehow they never made it to my portfolio. I think it’s about time I shared the story.
I’ve been doing Origami since I was about 10, at this point I’d like to think I can make about anything. When I saw a casting call for an origami folder I knew I had to audition. After sending a quick email listing my paper folding qualifications I quickly received a phone call and was asked a barrage of questions most important of which being: Could I fold a paper car? I of course said yes. Then the person asked me if I could actually fold a paper Toyota Prius and I said absolutely. He was extremely excited and he set up an audition time for me later that week and that was that.
Moments after I got off the phone I had that moment when I realized that not only had I never actually folded a paper car but I definitely hadn’t ever folded a Prius. This was 2007 so I wasn’t even sure I knew what a Prius looked like. My immediate concern was the wheels, it’s one thing to fold a piece of paper but I had actually deliberately not tackled cars when I was a young paper folder because of the complexity of folding 4 wheels that protruded out of a single sheet of paper in exactly the right place. Of course I could have made a 2D model but that didn’t seem right so I had a fair challenge on my hands.
A few minutes later I successfully composed myself then found a picture of a Prius online, set down a stack of copy paper, and started folding. An hour and a half later I was holding a Prius-esque piece of paper. A few more tries and I got it down to a solid 15 minutes of consistent folding with all 4 wheels, a perfect roof contour, and even a little Prius style spoiler on the back.
Up until this point I had undoubtedly folded my fair share of paper but most of them were given as gifts or ended up in a box or trash can of some sort. I had exactly 3 books on the subject from about the age I started folding and the large majority of my skill rested in occupying my time during meetings, travel, or any other time when I didn’t entirely have something else to do or wanted to focus a little better. I had never auditioned for an Origami themed anything so I had no idea what to expect. I envisioned at least a number of people who would be some serious competition so I made sure to bring my A game.
When I arrived at what looked to be a very productive and moderately successful film studio I showed the casting agent my car, she tried to conceal her excitement but I could tell I had made an impression. She asked me if I made this and if I could do it again. I said Yes to both questions and told her it took me about 15 minutes to make a car.
She asked me if she could film me making one so we set up shop on a table and I went to it. After a few cars she told me that she didn’t see any reason why I wouldn’t get the job but that she needed to inspect my hands first. This went on for a bit as various people told me how lovely my hands were and that I would be perfect for the role. It’s a weird thing for people to tell you that your hands are very nice, I don’t know why but it seemed strange to me. I was told that the director needed to give the final approval but that I would hear back from them soon. Then before I left I asked if anyone else had a good Prius. The lady laughed and said, “one person folded a truck, but it was 2D and barely looked like a truck,” then she said “everyone else couldn’t even get that close”. Needless to say I felt pretty good about where I stood.
A couple hours later I was on the phone with the director and the casting agent who proceeded to inform me that I got the part and asked about my schedule because apparently they were going to take me to get a manicure. We set that up and a few days later I was sitting in an awkward chair trying to keep my hands as far away from my body as possible all while folding paper cars on a backlit light box. Then on the spot I was told I needed to fold a paper wallet and also cut out some paper cars in a chain. Of course they allotted me a few minutes to prepare these so apparently that wasn’t a big deal. They had an approved wallet design ready and even though I thought it was hideous I didn’t complain and folded it for them. Neither of these were really Origami because they both required cutting but oh well. Mostly I was just disappointed that they made me use the largest and clunkiest scissors they could find.
A few weeks later I received a DVD with my commercial and payment for my role. They ran the commercial regionally for a while so I got to see myself on television a bit. Now luckily it exists on the internet so I can show everyone who missed out.
I also got an interesting side note from the casting director, she told me that in their search they spoke to someone who claimed to be a highly renowned associate of the professional Origami world (apparently such a thing exists!). This person informed her that not only were they not going to find someone who could fold an Origami Prius, that there were actually only 3 people in the world who could. These people are all “Origami Masters” and she was told none of them were going to be able to make it to Portland for a commercial. So she told me that I should feel good that I’m on par with these 3 elite Origami Masters and she was excited to share the news that she found someone who could fold a Prius after all.
Oh and the final video is actually all 15 minutes of me folding the Prius just in fast motion.