Starting a production from scratch is our forte, our bread and butter, our livelihood. But we also have a lot of fun working as hired guns for other production companies. Be it lighting design, production co-ordination, location scouting or cable pulling, it pays off being Renaissance men. That being said, we proudly present our thoughts, memories and final product in a feature we’ve named… Crew Call.

“Get In The Game”

Got the phone call two days ago. Looks like the Ground Up crew is pulling production support duties on a day shoot for a new iPhone app called “Get In The Game”. The production team has been traveling across the country snagging various sports celebrities in inspirational video clips. Everyone from Alex Rodriquez to Dennis Rodman. Now they’re headed to Florida for a one on one with Tampa’s favorite son, the greatest professional wrestler of all time: Hulk Hogan.

The Hulk has been a staple of this town for years. It seems like everyone I’ve had a conversation with regarding this shoot has had his or her own personal encounter with the Hulkster and by all accounts, he sounds like a pretty nice guy. Having spent a full day with the guy, I’d like to add my 2 cents: if anything, the reports are modest. Hulk Hogan is hands down the friendliest celebrity I’ve worked with yet. Extremely down to earth, very quick and funny, curious and eager after all these years—our time with the guy was beyond rewarding. The shoot wasn’t too bad either!

We crew up at Ron Rose Productions, a slick audio house in South Tampa. Mr. Hogan arrives on time, entourage free, ready to work. He’s directed to make-up while Jon, Ground Up’s ever-resourceful DP, rigs the lights. Hulk is mic’d up and after a few minutes of me playing hairdresser, snipping a few blond strays from under his headband—we’re rolling.

Hulk Hogan regales the camera (and crew) of his origins from high school bass-player to international superstar. He could’ve told these stories hundreds of times, but the enthusiasm behind his voice couldn’t be any fresher. He even tosses in his trademark gravelly shout and taglines to promote the app. The dude is on his game like no other.

The shoot is fast. One set-up that varies between a medium shot to close-up (being that the video is meant to be viewed on a phone, fast cuts and obnoxious graphics would deter even the most dedicated tech elitist), so we merely have to point and shoot, let the talent do all the work.

Before we know it, the shoot is wrapped. Hulk’s kind enough to spend a few extra minutes posing for photos with the crew (literally 3 of us and our intern) and heads to the green room for a quick change. Outside, having a smoke, I manage to get a little one on one with Hollywood Hogan. We talk mostly about cars and his film career (me, ever the fan boy, nerdily addressing his cameo in ‘Gremlins 2’ as my favorite Hogan performance of all time).

Brandon and Hulk Hogan

A car zooms by, screeches to a halt and immediately, a group of four people excitedly pour from the vehicle, clamoring around Hulk asking for pictures. Without the blink of an eye, Terry Bollea, the down to earth Tampa-boy immediately transforms into his alter ego, posing for snapshots and re-takes. He signs a few autographs, shakes everyone’s hand and they thank him, walking back to their car, chattering with excitement.

“Hulk Hogan! Can you believe it?!”

They drive away and before finishing our conversation, Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea lets me in on his personal philosophy—an amazing acknowledgment that has stuck in my mind since:

“The fans. They’re the single biggest reason I continue to do what I do. Most people wave them off—too busy at dinner, too busy standing in line to buy groceries. The thing of it is, if it weren’t for them, I’d be nothing. It’s that simple, brother. Fans come first, everything else can wait.”

The Hulk gets in his car and drives off to dinner with kids. Two weeks later, I catch him on TV roasting David Hasselhoff for Comedy Central. Amidst all the grandstanding, arm pumping, boa wearing and shirt tearing, I can’t help but see a little deeper. To everyone else he’s Hulk Hogan, but for those lucky enough to spend professional time with him, he’s simply a great dude from a great city.

Download the “Get in the Game” App from iTunes!