I’m currently hosting my first Google intern. Coincidentally, there’s a new movie currently in theaters about Google interns. I saw the film last Saturday with another Googler at a theater across the street from Google. I even spotted a Google VP in the audience, watching the movie about Google with the author of the book about—you guessed it—Google.
While I knew that The Internship isn’t a documentary (unlike this), my main curiosity going into the movie was how Google (and Googlers!) would be portrayed. Overall, movie Google looks a lot like real Google. You could probably take pictures of most of the sets, show them to real-world Googlers, and easily have them believe that the pictures were from a real office that they hadn’t visited yet. Some of the movie was actually shot at Google. If you want to know what was shot where, here’s a tip: If you see brick buildings, they’re not in California.
I’m tempted go into great detail about the plot and characters in terms of what is realistic vs. what is only in the movie, but as I said before, it’s not a documentary, so I’ll skip that and keep my review brief: I enjoyed the movie. I laughed out loud a few times, and I couldn’t help associating some of the Googler characters with Googlers I know. My favorite part was a scene with Billy and “Headphones.” It’s a fun movie, and I assume that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson had fun making it. The most surprising part for me was that of the scenes really resonated with me. Okay, maybe two scenes, but I’ll just talk about one. I don’t want to give too much away, but it involved trying to teach a small business owner the value and opportunity of the Internet. As someone who has had the pleasure of helping many businesses get online, I can attest that it’s an extremely challenging and rewarding experience.
As I mentioned earlier, some of the film was shot at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. The fun part about these shots is that in addition to featuring a real Google campus, they show real Googlers! During shooting, I got to spend a day on the set as an extra, and it was a fun experience. One of the first tasks was to be reviewed by someone in the wardrobe department. She loved my shoes, but said that I looked “too hip,” which is totally understandable. She asked me to tuck in my shirt, and then gave me a belt to “dorkify” me. I was also issued a fake Google badge. The name on mine was “Shaady Kamal.” Other than those adjustments to my appearance, I pretty much played myself. I wore my normal work clothes (jeans, a colorful shirt, and Google-colored shoes), and even had my real work backpack and laptops with me. It wasn’t hard to get into character; in all of my scenes I was working on my laptop, where I was literally just doing work at work. The only difference is that occasionally a couple of celebrities would walk by. Actually, that’s not different than real work. But this time there was a camera crew. Hmm, that’s not different either. I only “acted” in in a few shots, and each time was given a simple direction, such as to sit and work on a laptop or talk to some people for a little bit and then walk away. While it was easy to pretend to be me, I will still proudly note that I nailed it. In one shot, when I turned around and started walking right on cue, one of the crew members hiding in the bushes whispered to me, “Good job.” The funny part about shooting that scene was that I was supposed to walk away from a group of people as if leaving for a meeting. We were far enough from the action that we could talk, so we had a real-life conversation. My cue was when Vince and Owen hit a certain mark, and not any particular point in our conversation, so I kept having to walk away abruptly and randomly in the middle of the conversation. I almost felt rude, but that’s how Shaady rolls. The set was much more relaxed than I expected, and I think the crew was enjoying the location. I overheard the “good job” guy say on the phone, “This is the best week of work in my life. Yeah, I’m shooting a movie up at Google.”
As for a Wysz cameo? When I saw it in the theater, I didn’t see myself in the movie. They completely cut one of the scenes I was in. There are a couple of shots that I’m potentially in, but I think they each ended before the camera got to me. I’d need to step through them frame-by-frame to be sure, and you can bet that I’ll do that as well as check for deleted scenes when the movie comes out on video. I did spot Mike Leotta and Sergey Brin in one of the scenes.