A while back I spent a couple of days on a photo shoot where the star was a bottle of whiskey...
A darkened warehouse in Meath. The star is perched on a cask, centre stage. A dozen creative types huddle around a monitor.
There’s a problem with the lighting: One of the strobes misfires. The star looks off-colour, slightly anaemic. The lighting is corrected. "Smoke!" Shouts a voice, and the air is filled with condensed glycol, fanned with a sheet of hardboard. The star emerges from the mist, erect, sophisticated, one of our finest products.
The camera clicks and the image refreshes. A dozen heads lean in to check the results, and then one voice speaks for all. - "We need fire!!"
Enter the special-effects crew, led by a man who has seen action with Boorman and Kubrick. He pulls levers, twists knobs and entertains the crowd with tales of mishaps on the set of Barry Lyndon. Rings of flame rise inside specially prepared casks.
"Where are the sparks?"Outside, cauldrons of coal are cooked and poked until they streak like meteor tails into the night sky.
The ice cubes, made from crystal, are polished like gemstones, then plinked into place, then re-arranged until they look casual. Nonchalant. Too cool to melt.
The whiskey isn't sparkling. Somebody suggests apple juice. Apple juice is located, but it's cloudy.
"What else looks like apple juice?"
This question is met with a shuffling silence because everybody knows the answer, but nobody volunteers to pee in the bottle. Yet.