It might be a peculiarly Australian trait to commemorate losses and defeats as much as celebrate victories. It is for this reason that I feel obliged to present this partial failure. The problem for me at this one was having a divided focus. I had already photographed all three actors in the movie ‘Stoker’ already (Nicole Kidman at Nine and Australia Mia Wasikowska at Alice in Wonderland and Matthew Goode at Watchmen ), and for this reason, my priority was not photographic : it was autographic. Meaning, I really wanted to get something signed.
It was this photo, taken of Nicole Kidman at the premiere of “Australia” that I wanted signed, if possible.
This desire, however, in turn resulted in a series of compromises in photography, and as a consequence, this one suffered … and sadly I didn’t get the autograph either. The lesson isn’t so much “never try” as it is probably “wear the consequences”. Fair enough. Here’s how it went down:
I’ve never been to a premiere at the Curzon Soho before. It’s open to a three lane street and plenty of footpath through-traffic. There are intercity freeways that are less congested that could have better hosted to this event.
I usually dual-wield DSLRs at a premiere (because I can), but for this one, I was sticking with just one. And even more bravely (??), I elected to shoot on nothing but my Samyang 8mm (a diagonal 180 degree fisheye!). Well… if you’re going to fail, do so spectacularly is my philosophy!
Director Chan-wook Park poses inside the cinema – he directed the movie Oldboy (2003) which is quite highly rated. I haven’t watched it, but I’ve had the ending spoiled for me. (The 8mm makes it look like he’s about 10 meters away — he’s actually less than half that)
A somewhat noisy scuffle suggests that this is not yet another random member of the public arriving somewhat late and diverting the attention of security guards. Which is to say : Australia’s own Mia Wasikowska has arrived!
Mia Wasikowska was in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and has also had one of her photographs featured in the Australian Portrait Gallery’s annual photography competition. She breezed past, went inside, posed, and then returned outside to sign briefly. Ominously, the crowd surging for her put those of various extreme tidal basins to shame. Usually to get this close to members of the public I have to spring for dinner first.
Matthew Goode arrives, and I’ve elected to bump up the ISO to something rather insane like 3200 (6400? One step down from charcoal sketching the event myself) to support just a little bit more depth of field. (Did I mention that the Samyang 8mm has no autofocus?) (It’s a tricky little lens.. )
Matthew Goode is perhaps best known for playing Ozymandias in ‘Watchmen’ which I thought was a pretty excellent film (I haven’t read the graphic novel upon which it’s based – apparently this is the biggest variable in determining whether you like the film).
A car pulls up and dispenses Nicole Kidman. Disturbingly, at last week’s Baftas they had riot-control style barriers – chest high and heavy. In contrast at most premieres they have fairly robust waist-high metal fences. However, at this one they only had bank branch style ropes! … which is barely one step up from trying to keep rabid autograph dealers (or a barracuda swarm) at bay with polite language.
The force of flashes turns the newly arrived Nicole Kidman (far right) white, but I think this shot still has merit on the basis of the security guard trying to hold back a mass of crowd, bravely and somewhat successfully.
After signing perhaps two (2) autographs on what I’m calling merely the psychopathic side of the crowd, Nicole Kidman heads to our side. I’m in row two, but there are people who arrived forty five minutes after me who are all but crowdsurfing onto me, which takes me by surprise as I’m not really that good a photographer. It’s going to take divine intervention to get an autograph, but I elect not to pray – only Reality Show competitors do that.
Same photo as above, but in black’n’white. At this point, my chances of getting my photo to eye level in order to be signed are zero and falling. My chances of getting somebody involuntarily pregnant in this mad crowd, though are slightly higher at merely ‘probably zero’.
You can see my photo in its frame on the left, but you might be wondering how /why there is a hand right in front of me when clearly I’d be needing one to hold my photo and one to hold my camera. Now, I’m not some weird biological freak, it’s just that this is the kind of rampant opportunism that takes place in confined spaces at these things.
One more shot, with Mrs Kidman somewhat overexposed but at least some more rabid crowd action. Sadly, Mrs Kidman will not after all elect to look approximately ninety degrees to her right and find a pleasingly artistic framed shot she will want to sign. Oh well….
One last long-range shot, and then the question of whether (and for how long) it is worth staying outside in the hope that perhaps the star(s) will choose to leave via the same door that they entered, and perhaps sign. Sadly, after half an hour, the answer was that they did not choose to do so on either count.
So…. I guess it goes in the Archive of movie premieres not so much as a failure, but as something that happened. Good chance to use the 8mm in action, though.
Until next time!