Dozens of film producers, camera operators and assorted others descended on Joe Louis Arena this week to shoot a TV commercial for Ram Truck that features none other than ‘The Mule’ Johan Franzen.
Good thing the Red Wings were in the middle of a long five-day break this week – their longest of this season – because Franzen definitely put in some long hours in front of the camera.
For more than four hours, Franzen was in uniform and did a lot of standing around on his skates at center ice next to a bright red Dodge Ram. The premise of the commercial is Ram vs. Mule, though Franzen doesn’t have a speaking part, standing on skates for that long of a time is quite taxing.
“Did different stuff, mostly hard skates, was doing sprints from one side to the other, 20 times total, something like that,” Franzen said. “It's kind of hard when you're cold, you want to get it to look like you're really going hard. I tried to push it. I was cold. I was trying to sit down and stretch it a little bit so I wouldn't pull anything. It was fun.”
The crew was even equipped with an SUV, which is specially outfitted with a very impressive-looking movie camera attached to a large robotic arm affixed to the vehicle’s roof. Crewmembers that I spoke to Wednesday estimated the net worth of the black SUV – cameras, rigging and all – at approximately $1 million.
The only glitch of the day – which began at 9 a.m. and finally wrapped up before 10 p.m. – was getting the SUV on and off the ice. Crewmembers had to remove the wheels just so the camera arm could clear the AT&T sign above the Zamboni entrance to the rink.
Last month, we learned that the Ram, which is built in suburban Detroit and is a three-time recipient of Motor Trend magazine’s Truck of the Year Award, is now the official truck of the Red Wings.