Subject: [sumo] offtopic: sumo commercial

john traill johnofuji at
Mon Aug 18 00:43:01 EDT 2008

The Lenovo Sumo Commercial was shot over three 12 hour days in Sydney and they contacted me through the Australian Sumo Federation to assist with the mawashi and some of the sumo choreography- if you could call it that. No CG was used so they had to arrange the 40 odd sumo extras involved to make the formations. A massive crane was used to film overhead and also to suspended the “heros” as they are called in the air for take-off scene. There were no safety harnesses as they wouldn't fit so a steel frame was built around them. 
We started at 5am and they blocked off a few streets in the middle of the city. Quite a few visiting pilgrims from World Youth Day were seen blushing as they looked on at this remarkable spectacle. My first question was the same as  Huzayomama and then I realised that it is not hard at all to find 40 large units especially since we overtook the US as the fattest nation on the planet. In fact there seems to be agencies that specialise in oversized extras mostly Tongans, Maoris and Samoans.(I blame immigration for taking that title off the Americans) one guy was a dead ringer dor George Foreman but bigger and there was even an Ugly Betty look alike. The average weight would have been over 160kgs with a couple of them weighing in at about 240kegs or over 500lbs.  
Sumo wigs are usually a problem  and sometimes cost $3000 to make with real hair and $600 a day to hire. I usually give up even trying to show them how a chon mage should be as hairdressers always have their own interpretation of how what think it should look. The end result looks more like what would happen if cows could fly. On this occasion the hairdresser managed to find enough cheap wigs and apart from a few of the distant extras she really did make silk purses out of sows ears.
I got hold of all the mawashi I could find in the country and the other half had to be made. The producer wanted the white ones to be whiter and the black ones to be not so black so they don’t absorb too much light. As it is bad luck to wash a mawashi I told them that was as white as they were going to get and convinced them that those suspicious marks were just clay from the dohyo.  Thankfully the wardrobe department bought some disposable fundoshi/undies and made some ingenious elastic slip on mawashi for the rest of the extras because there was no way I could retie them every time someone felt the call of nature. My hands were very sore after having to tie the mawashi almost 100 times in 3 days. I made sure I had plenty of disinfectant on hand. On the final day I insisted on no lighting in the change room they set up in a parking lot where they filmed the blue screen flying shots. Some blokes had bulges on their bulges and it was a real challenge to make sure the wobbly bits didn’t reach daylight. One guys hernia lumps were so strange I thought he had a co-joined foetus growing out of his tummy. I was forced to ignore authenticity and had to use a bit of creative mawashi origami for people like Konishiki sized Herb who is first off the bus.
The catering truck really worked overtime to feed everyone with exotic gourmet food. At meal time many of the sumo extras would just park their chairs next to the smorgasbord to save time getting up for seconds and thirds and fourths. They even had people to bring munchies, pastries, toasted sandwiches and hot soup onto the set to keep up energy levels. There was a first aid officer on hand but I suppose being half naked in the freezing cold meant that a bit of bonding and comraderie inevitably distracted them from sore feet, fatigue and diabetes. At one stage they all performed the maori haka whilst waiting for the cameras to be reset. Whenever they were asked to back it up the jokers all made noises like a truck in reverse.
Anyway It certainly was an experience but I will not be giving up my day job in finance. I got to keep the new mawashi (after I insisted on having them all dry cleaned) so they will be perfect for the junior sumo team Katrina is putting together.   Unfortunately there was only one possible recruit for the team but I'm sure I could lure more of them if we put on a free hangi.  
I have some pictures to go with it but sumo forum won't let me post them for some reason so if anyone can please help I can forward them on.
Johnofuji> Message: 6> Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2008 21:36:11 -0400> From: "Emma Kolstad Antunes" <emma at>> Subject: [sumo] offtopic: sumo commercial> To: "Sumo Mailing List" <sumo at>> Message-ID:> <dfbadead0808161836m8820820yee3b7921c9e68098 at>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1> > I've been seeing this commercial while watching the olympics, and it's> fun to imagine sumo wrestlers flying...> >> > Enjoy,> mineyama> > > 
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