Joined July 2007

Bernd Talasch doesn’t remember being hatched in a research laboratory in Omaha in the late 1950s so maybe that never happened....

World War Z premiere fail - photos from the outside 8(

So, it’s finally happened. A premiere that I couldn’t get into. This is, broadly, not possible outside the realms of I Wasn’t Really Trying , and that’s kind of the case here. The problem with premieres on a Sunday (and they’re rare) is that at least on a weekday I’m already in town, and I can go to premieres after my workday finishes, show up and do the best that I can, and only people less employed than me can get there beforehand.

Those rules can be thrown out on a Sunday, thrown out again if it’s a world premiere, and thrown out a third time if it’s a movie starring Brad Pitt. And if Angelina Jolie is also going attend… forget about it. And I live out of town. (And I got a text from a friend at 7:30am saying they were already heading down… and no offense, I’m still asleep at that time on a Sunday. ANY Sunday. Talk to me if it’s Charlize Theron. Maybe.)

But I figured I could show up later, see what I could accomplish, and if worst came to worst I’d have a monopod and remote trigger and take photos I’ve always wanted to take from afar. But sometimes even those plans can fail somewhat. And they did.

So… welcome to the suck. Purely for the sake of completeness, and because my Australian background makes me culturally more likely to be okay with openly commemorating my own failures, here’s how it went down.

Giant black exclusion barriers, some 2m high, ring-circled the event. This is not entirely unusual, though it is insofar as doing this for the whole length of it. Often you can stand inside Leicester Square (the garden bit) and get sort of a view into the event. Still, this is where I planned to be at precisely THIS location when it started. The time right now : 3:30pm.

Tragically, I arrived back at 5:30pm and the event had started (that’s EARLY!). Brangelina have already posed for the Paparazzi and are off in the far reaches signing autographs and doing interviews and I can’t see them. So to summarise : I’ve screwed up in ways I have not previously done. (And having a second friend text me around this time to tell me she got late access to a pen because she sweet-talked a security lady didn’t improve my mood much).

As I might have previously mentioned, I am single, and even if I wasn’t, it’s probably a fair bet that my girlfriend would not be broad-shouldered (or let’s be more frank: willing) enough to bear the weight of me and my equipment at a premiere. Or so I assume.

The monopod means that my camera is at an elevation probably about 3meters plus, and it’s getting admiring stares from people restricted to mobile phones held high. Sadly, I’m using a 10mm wide angle lens, and even at maximum megapixels and resolution, Brad Pitt is going to be a few pixels tall if I even get a shot. (Still— I’m taking photos of others’ desperation. That’s always fun).

I decide to at least keep moving. This is possibly my favourite ‘compromise’ shot – a shot I can’t ordinarily take because I’m too close to the action. This shows some of the layout of the premiere – not just the fans, but also the huge multi-storey press stage, cars dropping off celebs, and also the queue of invited guests and ticket holders and their separate queue to walk the red carpet. I actually quite like the full-size image which is here in case you are interested

I had considered the possibility of prezooming the lens a to get better magnification, but the problem is still that I CAN’T SEE WHAT I’M SHOOTING – so the narrower the field of view, the less likely I’m pointing in the right direction, plus camera shake becomes a factor since it’s balanced atop a giant pole that’s almost three meters high. Technically it’s a nightmare, and artistically…. it’s something worse than that.

You might not see it at this resolution, but this photo is actually pretty decent shot of Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz. Just sayin’ (She’s the one in the white dress). Next logical step : invest in a hoverdrone with attached remote control camera. I figure I can use it exactly once before they’re banned and they start having police snipers installed on rooftops.

Bearing in mind I can not see what I am shooting, I am effectively like those deep sea bathyscapes they send down into ocean trenches with a camera pointing out of one window, hoping that something interesting will swim past and not be blurry. Thus, I am pleased (and very surprised) to present a photo of Brad Pitt, waving. (I had to both mono- and darken this shot a little aggressively so he stood out – people were wearing too many colours and shades at the event!).

From the distance I’m shooting from, this crop is pretty amazing. Sadly (or perhaps commendably) Brad Pitt paid full attention to his interviewer and didn’t turn around (he signed autographs before and after though – I’m told he’s very nice)

Director Marc Forster does not stand still enough at thirty meters for me to catch, zoom and crop a 10mm wide angle shot of him that’s razor-sharp. But I try. I’ve photographed him before – at the premiere of Quantum of Solace, which he also directed.

… and one day I will hopefully remember to make a late booking at the restaurant overlooking Leicester Square and bring my camera equipment when I can’t get a good spot. Because doing that and getting access to their balcony would be a brilliant move. Along with everything else’ that’s gone wrong, I realise to my chagrin that I have forgotten to bring a bottle of Jack Daniels with which I can console myself.

Another slight shift in location. Often, at smaller premieres, the grassed area is accessible for people to stand and gawk from (It’s not a great spot, but if the stage is set up high enough you can at least see that). Today, though, it had its own exclusion zone to protect the media setup.

Brad Pitt went inside after being interviewed, however the emcee said he’d be back out after introducing the film, to sign more autographs. This was great news : not only would I know where he’d be, but I could even zoom in on a narrower range. It was all looking great… until the Nikon I was using proved to have a completely different metering philosophy than the Pentax I usually use, and hugely overexposed this shot even at -1 exposure compensation. Argh. Unforgivable. (Yes, yes, I know. My fault for not knowing my equipment… but a little bit of luck might have been nice).

So… overall… cripplingly disappointing. I’m only posting this so I don’t forget.

And, finally, to wrap up my despondency in a nice, neat box with a bow, here was an advertisement right across from me on the train journey back. It was targetted at women wanting donor sperm, cause apparently there’s plenty around. So, thanks heaps for reminding me that as a guy I don’t actually have any reason to exist anymore.

So, to conclude : as a documentary of (a) stuff going wrong and (b) a different view of premieres, I’m reluctantly going put it into the Archive of Movie premieres anyway

The Archive is Here

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