It’s BFI London Film Festival, opening night! And good(ish) news for anybody who thinks my commentary has been a bit tame of late. Generally, when things go well and easy, I’m a pretty sweet guy. That’s me in summer, when the weather is fine, the premieres are large and well-lit, and I’m getting my Vitamin D and taking photos outdoors without a flash is simple®. But now it’s October, and premieres are darker. And more crowded. And I’m more stressed…. but sadly, at this one I’m also more tired. And that means I’m too tired to be truly angry, just slightly grumpy. (Sorry about that! I’ll make sure to drink more caffeine tomorrow)
Here’s how it went down.
London Film Festival is back!! Last year that meant more than one premiere per day for over a week, but this year I’ll be unable to go to more than half of all the events. That’s due to circumstances out of my control. Needless to say those circumstances do not involve things I’d rather be doing. They will probably be less crowded and rowdy, though.
The setup continues, and I guess Tom Hanks won’t need to bring his reading glasses.
Wow. That photographer didn’t so much bring a gun to a knife-fight as bring a set of machetes to an art restoration project.
Director Paul Greengrass has arrived!!! But please, lady, feel free to hold your crappy mobile phone up in front of the Oscar-nominated director (who I’ve never photographed), so your insufficient zoom, pointles flash and poor autofocus can attempt to take a photo of a guy who is not the man in front of you, but another guy about ten meters away and who is not even looking at you.
Oh, and you brought your friends. That’s wonderful!! Please name three Paul Greengrass movies, since you’re obviously blocking my view to take photos of him. ps. Tom Hanks, who you’ve probably heard of, is to your left.
I actually went the whole premiere convinced that I didn’t get a decent shot of director (the Bourne Trilogy and United 93 are what he’s best known for) Paul Greengrass until he turned and walked back for his final interview. However I actually got two good shots randomly and blind when he first posed for the Paps. The not so subtle lesson being : firstly, never give up. And secondly, people with mobile phones only USUALLY spoil others’ photography.
The merest hope that Tom Hanks might sign autographs in our area caused paroxisms of violent excitement in the crowd that schools of piranha might shrink back at. (A friend was hit by a world-war-II style metal helmet. I am not kidding).
Because Tom Hanks was in Saving Private Ryan, some moron decided it was fine to bring a full metal replica WAR HELMET for him to sign, and waved it in the air like ya just don’t care as Hanks approached. You might wonder why a bunch of security drones might stand around doing nothing. Truth is, without wanting to seem to bitter on behalf of my friend, security at these (or any kind of) events are there only to protect Important People. Like Tom Hanks. And if he’s not around, they stand around looking impotent. (Did I write ‘impotent’? Maybe I meant ‘important’. Maybe not).
Still… Tom Hanks. Great actor, no?
As Tom Hanks nears our enclosure and the heaving masses think he’s handing out free money or ecstasy tablets or something, I’m swept away on a tide of humanity. I figure I might as well take generic photos of the event. (I’ll pick up the vestiges of my regard for my fellow man a few hours from now when I’m back at home).
Sure, Tom Hanks has won two Acting Oscars and been nominated for a further three, but let’s hear it for the brave men (and sometimes women) who hold up umbrellas for the actors at these premieres. And occasionally place their hands upon stars’ backs. It’s a living.
I’ve just taken what seems like my three hundredth consecutive photo of the back of Paul Greengrass’s head and I am not as happy as this man.
Good news. A sightly more profile-esque shot of Paul Greengrass, who is big enough a director nowadays to have hired somebody to point exasperatedly at people who ask him silly questions. (“No I don’t like sultanas. Who does, honestly??”)
I’m now demonstrating the quite exquisite low-light capabilities of the Pentax K5 on the side of Tom Hanks and this premiere is a little less fun than I’d hoped.
Meanwhile, Rita Wilson is both married to Tom Hanks and a prolific actress in her own right, with credits including Sleepless in Seattle, Jingle All The Way, and…. ummm…. Runaway Bride? Her hair’s lustre and bounce, certainly, deserves considerable credit. I’d always assumed it didn’t exist outside of Conditioner Ads.
An almost-but-not-quite stylistic doppelganger to one of my fave shots from last year’s BFI London Film Festival, that of Ben Affleck at the premiere of Argo . It would take a fair bit of editing, but it’s late and I’m tiiiiired.
“And in that movie, when you were Big, that was really, really… erm… good” Well, we all falter when we meet our heroes I suppose.
“Gary, I’m here in Leicester Square with my hero Tom Hanks but every time I try to ask something I screw it up incoherently. So I’m just going to stand here and look cool until I think of something I can do to hold his attention”. Bold strategy. I like it.
“Duuuuude! Are you SURE you’re supposed to be showing me that clip??”
Meanwhile, this guy signed autographs. I assume he’s famous, though I have to admit I’m impressed by the wife/ partner/ brother/ oddly dressed animatronic mannequin he’s brought with him. (Apologies, Ma’am. I was the guy wearing uncoordinated trousers, t-shirt and beanie so you have every right to reply)
Good news for fans of Dexter Fletcher, Terry Gilliam and hopefully John Hurt. They seem to all get invites to every London Film Fetival event, even the ones they’re not involved in. I’m especially excited because I rarely get to photograph Terry Gilliam without a dishtowel cape.
Much as I like Terry Gilliam (and on the strength of one, maybe two movies in his filmography, I do), I think I’d be pointing my iPad at the wonderful pattern the kid’s hair is making and not the once Oscar-nominated director/screenwriter.
And only then, at the end, did he remember he still owed me five dollars.
Paul Greengrass is skeptical that I can make it home for my IaaS Cloud Computing meeting with Texas. I’m much more pessimistic – it’d piss me off much more to miss it, so I assume the universe will conspire to ensure I get there.
“Get the camcorder and the shaky-cam ready, dear. I think this guy’s asking somebody to bring it.” If it’s the guy with the steel helmet, it could be an interesting fight.
“Bill, I’m standing here, it’s cold, I’m wet, and I didn’t get to talk to Tom or Paul, and I just want to know why does it always rain on me? Was it because I lied when I was seventeen, or do I need to quote another semi-obscure song’s lyrics?” And on that note, t’s been a stressful day. Time to head home.
On the way home, another premiere. This one I avoided because I’m way classier than that. (I kid. Like I said : I had a phone conference to dial into, 9pm London time)
So… that was a frustrating one. My friend appears to be okay, and will be skipping tomorrow’s premiere in exchange for a comfortable room with chairs where ticket holders get protected from heaving throngs. Me? I’ll be back.
Until next time!
It’s another one for The Archive of Movie Premieres