All Photos: Alan Mercer
Mike Anaya just returned from three weeks in Hawaii working on a kids show for Nickelodeon and that’s after working on Season Five of ‘The New Girl.’ That’s just the tip of the iceberg. On the ‘Real Men’ campaign for Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, he worked with Justin Timberlake shaving with a chainsaw. He had to keep Bradley Cooper’s cereal box looking fresh, as he was eating it out of the box with a serving spoon, and watched Jamie Foxx use a remote control as a bottle opener. He was there when Sean Penn used an iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches and no less than Halle Berry asked him if he was a professional voice over actor.
I met Mike Anaya in December of 2003. Originally from Reno, Nevada, he had been working in the ever declining music business and was looking for something else to earn a living. I needed someone to assist me on photo shoots and since he was available and capable I hired him whenever I could. We worked on dozens of photo sessions all while he pursued other ways of earning an income in Hollywood. Over time he found a lot of work in event productions and eventually television, music videos and commercials.
It’s no surprise to me he has become successful working in Hollywood (no easy feat) because he gives his all to anything he is doing. He is reliable, dependable and always early for his call time.
Mike has also worked with entertainers such as Coldplay (three different times), Madonna, Adele, Katy Perry, U2, Terrence Howard, Eminem, The cast of New Girl which has included Megan Fox, Forrest Whitaker and Sofia Vergara, just to name a few.
Besides finding professional success Mike also found personal happiness this past year when he got married in Hawaii to a girl he has known since childhood.
AM: Mike when I first met you, you were working in the music business. Right around that time the music business took a dramatic turn downward. What was that like for you?
MA: That was a hard time because I didn’t know my direction or what else to do. That’s when I met you and that got me into photography.
AM: But you always had an interest in photography, right?
MA: Yes, I always did want to take photos.
AM: So you started working with me at photo shoots but you were also led into other careers. What did you do then?
MA: I started working on large scale events like big concerts.
AM: What exactly did you do at first?
MA: I would set up the VIP area, site crew for EDC and Hard Summer and Hard Summer and Hard Halloween and I’ve stage managed for Live Nation a few times. These are all different large scale events I worked on. These jobs would often be several days long.
AM: What does setting up a VIP area involve?
MA: Setting up tables and chairs. Decorating the area and making it look extravagant for the clients.
AM: Did you want to be doing this sort of job?
MA: I just fell into it. Not a bad thing. I just never thought about doing something like that.
AM: So how did you move forward into other avenues?
MA: I discovered the guy I was working for was an art director in films. He ended up hiring me for my first commercial. When I discovered how much money those people made working on commercials, I decided I wanted to work in that area of production. So from there I ended up working in television.
AM: How many days is an average commercial shoot?
MA: Anywhere from one to ten days.
AM: After you started working in commercials did you still work on live events?
MA: Yes, I kept doing live events until about three years ago. Now I focus on television and commercials only.
AM: I know you have worked on some big name music videos. Tell me about that.
MA: I’ve only done a few. I worked with Coldplay on a couple videos. I worked on one of Adele’s first videos, ‘Chasing Pavements’ and on ‘Ghost Town’ with Madonna.
AM: What experiences stand out in your memory as something really cool or special?
MA: Late last year I worked on an NFL spot for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. I was happy for the job as I had an opportunity to play catch with Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys. They are my second favorite team. Also I did an Eminem video last year and John Malkovich had a cameo. I was resetting his sodas for the screen. He shook my hand afterwards.
AM: What’s it like working with all these big names?
MA: I’m normally fine but I was super nervous around Halle Berry.
AM: Does anyone stand out as being super nice?
MA: Chris Martin of Coldplay made me feel comfortable. When I told him I saw his first show in LA he told me I must be old. Then on the third job I did with him, he came up and shook my hand first thing when he saw me.
AM: Well if you’re only going to work on a few, those are the ones! How do you like those long hours?
MA: I actually like it a lot. It’s pretty fun but it does get monotonous after a while hearing the same song over and over for ten to twelve hours.
AM: I never thought about that.
MA: No matter what is going on, they are playing the same song very loud all day long.
AM: What television shows have you worked on?
MA: I just finished working on three different shows back to back. One is called ‘Cooper Barrett’ for Fox. It has been on television already. Not sure if it got picked up or not. That led me into working on ‘The New Girl.’ I just finished this past season and then I went to Hawaii for three weeks working on a kids show for Nickelodeon called Paradise Run 2.
AM: Have you found a new home in television work then?
MA: No, I am still searching. (Laughter) I think I like commercials the best.
AM: What would your ultimate job be?
MA: Voice over work! I have always been told I had the perfect voice for it.
AM: I agree you have a great voice and would be a really good at that. Do you think you may go full circle and return to music in some way?
MA: Actually I have been getting interest and I do believe I’m going back into the music business.
AM: In what capacity?
MA: Doing event production again.
AM: That’s your first love anyway.
MA: Yes, that’s why I moved to Los Angeles in the first place.
AM: Do you think working in Hollywood is different from working in other cities?
MA: Yes out here it’s very cut throat. It’s really about who you know. You have to build good solid relationships to get ahead.
AM: I’m so proud of you Mike. You have become very successful working in Hollywood. A person doesn’t always get to do what they love the most at first. What is your advice to anyone looking to come to Los Angeles to work behind the scenes?
MA: Lots of people have asked me that question all the time. I always say to follow your heart and keep chasing your dreams. That’s the bottom line. Whatever you feel inside, you have to keep pursuing it.