You know, I’m so happy that MTF can be a forum to discuss all things related to collecting, the issues we come across, etc… A long time reader that I met gosh… back at the Party Down event in what 2009 or so just sent in this wonderful article. Not wonderful for him mind you, but a wonderful read.
So, make sure and give him the MTF welcome! And I’m not going to give Jack a nickname because I keep getting told my nicknames suck… Sadness…
Jack discusses how he’s met some awesome celebrities such as Kevin Smith, George Clooney, Gary Oldman etc… and mainly does his collecting at Q and A public events that are not as crazy as say, a premiere. LOL… However, when Jack went to the Moneyball screening security really treated the fans waiting really bad. I just don’t understand how a badge gives some people a power trip. It happens all the time. I see it even in everyday life….
It’s really well written so make sure and give Jack’s report a look after the jump!
Awards season is my favorite time of year. It’s the one time of year when everyone is promoting something. From November until February, it’s a goldmine for autograph collectors. Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced veteran, there are plenty of opportunities to meet the stars of your favorite film projects.
The first time I obtained an autograph was back in the Fall of 2003 at the Nuart Theatre when I met Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma, etc.). Soon I instantly fell in love with the idea of meeting my idols. Even to this day I can’t believe Kevin Smith obliged every single request for photos and autographs until he was kicked out by the manager around 3 a.m. (A few years later, I attended an event where Kevin Smith signed autographs from 6pm until 6am. Talk about caring for his fans).
For a brief time I became spoiled and accustomed to this kind of treatment, but I soon learned celebrities aren’t always as nice as they appear. Some celebrities who are perceived as “sweet and innocent” are actually the exact opposite and could care less for their fans. Whereas some of the most “diva, loud, obnoxious and angry” individuals turned out to be the coolest and most down to earth people I have ever met. Just because you expect someone to be one way, doesn’t mean you’ll meet that kind of person.
I originally started collecting athletes’ autographs at various sports conventions before transitioning to Hollywood autographs. At first it was great, but then the idea of having to pay for someone’s autograph seemed ridiculous, especially with some of the prices certain celebrities charged. Around this same time I started attending Q&A’s more frequently and found great success obtaining autographs afterwards from various celebrities.
Soon I started reasoning, why should I pay X for an autograph from “John Doe,” who was in two hit movies, when I have met numerous Academy Award winners and only paid for the price of a movie ticket? As a result I visit fewer conventions. Besides, I think it’s more entertaining to view a movie, attend a fun Q&A and possibly have an opportunity afterwards to meet the guest(s).
Like I mentioned earlier, this is my favorite time of year because all the big contenders are usually out promoting their films hoping to get recognized. For those that don’t like attending premieres and other public events that become “fan crazy”, Q&A’s are more laid back and usually you have a good shot to meet the artists afterwards.
In the past few years I have met Academy Award winners Steven Soderbergh, Colin Firth, Robert Duvall, Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Charlize Theron and Javier Bardem during award season. As a matter of fact, last year I met three of the Best Actor nominees Javier Bardem, Jesse Eisenberg, and eventual winner Colin Firth. This year I’m trying to replicate my success with the Best Actor race. Last year I turned down opportunities to meet Jean Dujardin when The Artist was still relatively unknown and surprise Oscar nominee Demian Bichir for A Better Life, even though I’m a fan of Bichir’s from Che and Weeds. Still, my policy is “I won’t buy a ticket or a product just to meet a celebrity if I don’t want the product.” In those two cases, both films were good, but in my opinion not worth the premium priced movie ticket to warrant meeting them.
In late 2011, I met George Clooney after a screening of The Descendants and was completely thrilled to finally meet him. Clooney is seriously one of the coolest people I have ever met. When I asked him to sign my copy of South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut he even laughed and had nothing but nice things to say about Trey Parker and Matt Stone (Mike, feel free to insert a WTF??? comment here).
(Editors Note: South Park! Over The Facts of Life! Really! Doh! M-)
A few weeks ago I met Gary Oldman, right before they announced the Oscar nominations when Focus Features was heavily promoting Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. After the Q&A I managed to snag his autograph and wished him the best of luck with a nomination (On a side note: It’s about damn time he was nominated!). Like Clooney, Mr. Oldman is one of the nicest and coolest people you could ever meet, which brings me to the reason why I’m writing this article: Brad Pitt. Regarded as one of the best signers around I have always wanted to meet Brad Pitt, but have never had a great opportunity to meet him.
Unlike the Fanboy crew I chose to skip out on The Vow premiere and instead attend a special screening of Moneyball with Jonah Hill, Billy Beane and Brad Pitt that same night at the LACMA. The event was sponsored by Film Independent, LACMA Film Club and the New York Times Film Club. Only members from those organizations were allowed tickets and this would serve as one of the special screenings for the AMPAS.
This night serves as a perfect example for attending events in Los Angeles. Not only was The Vow premiere happening on Hollywood Blvd, but George Clooney and Alexander Payne were conducting a special Q&A at the Egyptian Theater the very same time. So for autograph collectors a decision had to be made: Pitt, Clooney or McAdams? As everyone else can attest to on this site, sometimes it’s a tough call to make when several cool events take place simultaneously.
I almost bought tickets to the Clooney/Payne event, but once I heard about the Moneyball event I convinced my friend to order our tickets. After all, how many calm events will there be to meet Brad Pitt? Unlike previous screenings I have attended at the LACMA, the Moneyball Q&A would precede the screening of the film (something I discovered after arriving). So here is a rundown of what transpired.
5:30 – My friend Steve arrives and notifies me people have already started lining up for the screening at
7:30. 6:00- Steve calls me to see where I am, but I’m stuck in traffic. From my estimation I’m about 15-20 minutes away. Damn you LA traffic for making me late! 6:20- I finally arrive at the LACMA, but we decide to grab a quick bite to eat since the line doesn’t appear too bad. 6:40- We finish eating Baja Fresh and rush back over to the LACMA.
6:50- People are slowly being allowed inside. Several minutes later Steve and I are let in, but are surprised at what we see. The first three rows are completely packed. Even when we attended the screenings of The Descendants (the entire cast showed up) and My Week With Marilyn (Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh) it wasn’t this bad, so we went to the fourth row. However, the next three rows (4 through 6) were completely empty AND reserved for AMPAS members.
From 6:58 on, we switched seats several times debating where we want to sit and after settling down at 7:10 we realize the Q&A is definitely happening before the film. Both Steve and I really didn’t want to see a 133 minutes long film again (if we didn’t have to) so we snuck to the back.
Around 7:35 the Q&A starts with Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Billy Beane (arrived late), editor Christopher Tellefsen and sound mixer Deb Adair (two interesting, oddball additions). The Q&A wrapped up at 8:15 and sure enough, the majority of the front row popped up with memorabilia to get things signed. Both Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill were more than accommodating signing items for individuals who asked. When it appeared obvious we couldn’t make it down to the front, we left and headed to the rear entrance of the Bing Theater in a calm manner.
We walked alongside the outside of the building and were joined by several other fans from the screening. Unlike my previous times, we were roped off 20-30 feet further and around the corner instead of near the back entrance where guests would have to pass us. Only security and Film Independent/LACMA volunteers saw us. There were about a dozen of us waiting patiently and calmly. Again, only AMPAS, Film Independent, NY Times Film Club and LACMA members were at the screening. There were no dealers and the LACMA was closed off to guests.
While we were waiting, Christopher Tellefsen and Deb Adair walked passed us with several publicists. A few minutes later, a Sony publicist made a comment that bothers me as I write this, “This is all the security we have?” The comment was directed at the three young volunteers and two security officers waiting around the corner to protect all the guests. I turned to my friend Steve and said, “This doesn’t sound good at all.”
Slowly, a few of us asked the volunteers to let Brad and Jonah know there were only a few of us fans waiting around the corner when they exit. All of us had programs and/or DVDs to get signed except for one guy with a photo from Moneyball and several women just wanted a photo with Brad. After several pleas, the one male volunteer yells out at us, “No, I won’t do that. I won’t let them know you are even here. So stop asking!” Mind you, this is even after one volunteer counts us on her hands and says “There really IS only seven of them waiting.” The other volunteers even concur after they look back at us and confirm with one another. Jeez, another person on a power trip. I f’n hate that, especially when everyone is acting calm and orderly.
From our angle, we are able to look through the windows of the Plaza Café (located behind the Bing Theater) and are able to see Jonah Hill, Elvis Mitchell and Billy Beane exit. They stand around chatting and we plead politely with the volunteers to let the guests know we are around the corner. None of us are yelling or screaming, just asking the volunteers to notify the guests there are fans waiting. After several minutes of them chilling, Brad Pitt finally exits and talks to Billy Beane before leaving. We all yell out his name around the corner and even ask security to let him know we are “around the corner.” The same “power trip” volunteer says to the publicists, “Ignore them” and turns to us, “Stop Yelling. They aren’t coming over. Don’t even bother calling them over.” Even LACMA employees start saying similar things to the few of us still remaining there. Once Brad leaves, everyone leaves except for three of us, but it’s the same song and dance with Jonah Hill. I’m calmly calling out for Jonah Hill and I’m told “No” by several people. There ARE literally THREE of us here. Talk about having an attitude and being on a power trip. You know it’s bad when they refuse to let THREE fans meet someone.
Would it really have been that hard to say, “Brad, Jonah, there are some fans around the corner that would like to meet you. Do you want to come over there?” When I met Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh merely weeks before at the LACMA, security actually held a flashlight over their heads so they could see what they were signing and even took pictures for the several fans waiting. In the past I have disagreed with some comments made about publicists on this site since I have several publicist friends, but after this experience I completely understand why some autograph collectors hate publicists and volunteers. When they turn down less than 20 people patiently waiting, that’s messed up!
Immediately I contacted Mike that night and told him about my bad experience. He was glad I wanted to write about it and encouraged me to tell my story. I feel it’s ridiculous when staff and volunteers say “No autographs and pictures,” without the celebrities consent. Brad and Jonah were super cool inside signing for fans, but for the few of us waiting outside who came from the screening were snubbed because some individuals were on power trips. It’s such a travesty, but for me and Steve this was back to back experiences.
Unlike Scotty the Music Man, who met Viola Davis before she went inside for her Q&A with The Help, both Steve and I were snubbed inside by staff after the Q&A. Although we were in the first few rows, we were stopped before we could ask Viola Davis for an autograph. The staff immediately escorted her out and pushed people out of the way. After these two experiences back to back I’m seriously disappointed by staff members going on Power Trips and I’m seriously reconsidering attending Q&As in the future. Hopefully next time I have a better success story to tell. Until then, happy autograph hunting!