12 Oct - The (BFI LFF) 'Obscuring views of Saoirse Ronan' ('Brooklyn') European Premiere

October 12th, 2015.

I do a lot of premieres (citation needed). Some are good, some are bad, some are easy, some are frustrating. But it's usually fun and I like it enough that I keep doing it and almost all of them are worth it. Even the bad ones teach you something... and besides. It's photography... there are ALWAYS angles.

But some days you wonder why they have premieres at all, rather than (say) having stars do interviews on a soundstage in complete isolation, or put them into concrete bunkers and photograph them against a greenscreen and paint in the CGI crowds later. Because this one bordered on the pointless.

Here's how it ("it") went down:

NOTE : I've since become aware of some mitigating circumstances around this premiere that exonerates the stars and puts more blame on the organisers. Further details below

In earlier, simpler times, this movie betrayed no hint of the pointlessness to come. Indeed, the people who Lay The Carpet (not a euphemism) are among the most consistently professional at their job as anyone in the Premieres ecosystem.

In earlier, simpler times, this movie betrayed no hint of the pointlessness to come. Indeed, the people who Lay The Carpet (not a euphemism) are among the most consistently professional at their job as anyone in the Premieres ecosystem.

When somebody mistakenly treads some chewing gum into a red carpet, there are apps (or failing that, magic sprays) for that.

When somebody mistakenly treads some chewing gum into a red carpet, there are apps (or failing that, magic sprays) for that.

Map of the event. Open barriers so that any passerby could join in at any time, which is fair enough for a premiere with no major stars, no real queue, and a film festival wanting to encourage the notion of 'big-ness'.... but bad for crowd control (read : autograph dealer scum control)

Map of the event. Open barriers so that any passerby could join in at any time, which is fair enough for a premiere with no major stars, no real queue, and a film festival wanting to encourage the notion of 'big-ness'.... but bad for crowd control (read : autograph dealer scum control)

Our first two arrivals are actor Emory Cohen (left - best known for a role in the Ryan Gosling movie 'The Place Beyond the Pines') and writer Nick Hornby (right - Oscar nominated for 2010's "An Education" which was a great movie)

Our first two arrivals are actor Emory Cohen (left - best known for a role in the Ryan Gosling movie 'The Place Beyond the Pines') and writer Nick Hornby (right - Oscar nominated for 2010's "An Education" which was a great movie)

Starting to set the scene for tonight, people on the red carpet, far from being moved along to enter the cinema have decided to simply mill about and hang, chill, and take selfies of each other.

Starting to set the scene for tonight, people on the red carpet, far from being moved along to enter the cinema have decided to simply mill about and hang, chill, and take selfies of each other.

I catch a brief glimpse of Emory Cohen as he heads pretty much straight for the interview pens. Blur on right comes from the 20-something dude whose hair is so artfully gelled that every time his ADD-addled senses get a new stimulus his head moves like an oil tanker turning.

I catch a brief glimpse of Emory Cohen as he heads pretty much straight for the interview pens. Blur on right comes from the 20-something dude whose hair is so artfully gelled that every time his ADD-addled senses get a new stimulus his head moves like an oil tanker turning.

Eileen O'Higgins has limited imdb.com credits, but the fish handbag is pretty ace, rad, groovy, and/or tight depending on what decade you're from.

Eileen O'Higgins has limited imdb.com credits, but the fish handbag is pretty ace, rad, groovy, and/or tight depending on what decade you're from.

"No smiling at the crowds... you're off to do interviews, lady". Sure, press the flesh of the mighty media and don't sign... but then why go to the trouble of having a carpet? Why not hold these events in fire escape corridors if you're not going to mingle? (and could the dude to my right pick a direction to incline his head??)

"No smiling at the crowds... you're off to do interviews, lady". Sure, press the flesh of the mighty media and don't sign... but then why go to the trouble of having a carpet? Why not hold these events in fire escape corridors if you're not going to mingle? (and could the dude to my right pick a direction to incline his head??)

Breaking protocol briefly, Eileen O'Higgins sashays across to sign a few autographs before heading back to do interviews. This movie's lead Saoirse Ronan (best known - arguably - for the movie 'Atonement' for which she got an Oscar Nomination) has posed side-on for the Paparazzi and started her interviews too. She signed for the autograph dealers of course. Stars must get immunisation shots before they interact with them.

Breaking protocol briefly, Eileen O'Higgins sashays across to sign a few autographs before heading back to do interviews. This movie's lead Saoirse Ronan (best known - arguably - for the movie 'Atonement' for which she got an Oscar Nomination) has posed side-on for the Paparazzi and started her interviews too. She signed for the autograph dealers of course. Stars must get immunisation shots before they interact with them.

John Crowley is the director of this film. He's off to do interviews. Because that's why there's a red carpet. Honestly... you could do this by skype if you wanted. (on a side-note : that 'no ties on the red carpet' thing that was more a theory seems to be an unwritten code now)

John Crowley is the director of this film. He's off to do interviews. Because that's why there's a red carpet. Honestly... you could do this by skype if you wanted. (on a side-note : that 'no ties on the red carpet' thing that was more a theory seems to be an unwritten code now)

Questions for the stars and crew of the movie : "Why are you here?" / "Would you rather be inside?" / "Do you feel exposed when out in public?"

Questions for the stars and crew of the movie : "Why are you here?" / "Would you rather be inside?" / "Do you feel exposed when out in public?"

REALLY??? Saoirse Ronan briefly signs autographs and this is about as good a portrait as I can take as most of the crowd of tourists and passersby gawks and tries to figure out who she is, exactly, while dealers hold up pictures from their infinite supply of stuff to have signed. Still... at least I got her face... sort of.

REALLY??? Saoirse Ronan briefly signs autographs and this is about as good a portrait as I can take as most of the crowd of tourists and passersby gawks and tries to figure out who she is, exactly, while dealers hold up pictures from their infinite supply of stuff to have signed. Still... at least I got her face... sort of.

Frikkin' hell. I've shifted location numerous times and this is the most direct angle I could find for now. I wonder if anyone around me has heard of 'Atonement' (2007)  let alone watched the movie 'Hannah' (2011)... because they're having a lot of looks of confusion, followed by more craning of necks, presumably looking for a nametag on her.

Frikkin' hell. I've shifted location numerous times and this is the most direct angle I could find for now. I wonder if anyone around me has heard of 'Atonement' (2007)  let alone watched the movie 'Hannah' (2011)... because they're having a lot of looks of confusion, followed by more craning of necks, presumably looking for a nametag on her.

"We loved you in 'Divergent'!!" Or maybe it was The Maze Runner, or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief? Was she in Hunger Games, maybe? I'm not sure. Still... autograph dealers on the right, assistant in front, man with hat going 'wtf?' on the left... it's all happening.

"We loved you in 'Divergent'!!" Or maybe it was The Maze Runner, or Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief? Was she in Hunger Games, maybe? I'm not sure. Still... autograph dealers on the right, assistant in front, man with hat going 'wtf?' on the left... it's all happening.

After shifting location a fifth time and me taking several hundred shots of other peoples' heads which I can't be bothered to upload but can produce on request, it seems now Saoirse Ronan is actually blocking views of herself... with herself. My incredulity hasn't just snapped, it has decided to head off and find a cafe and sip on a latte (read : triple patron on ice).

After shifting location a fifth time and me taking several hundred shots of other peoples' heads which I can't be bothered to upload but can produce on request, it seems now Saoirse Ronan is actually blocking views of herself... with herself. My incredulity hasn't just snapped, it has decided to head off and find a cafe and sip on a latte (read : triple patron on ice).

"Is this an Angle??" By the standards of tonight, this isn't just a good picture, it's bordering on miraculous. Does Saoirse Ronan's entourage contain everything from an ice cream consultant to a backup soothsayer, personal flautist, tax advisor, IT tech support guy and 'guy who is employed for nothing more than point to her right'?

"Is this an Angle??" By the standards of tonight, this isn't just a good picture, it's bordering on miraculous. Does Saoirse Ronan's entourage contain everything from an ice cream consultant to a backup soothsayer, personal flautist, tax advisor, IT tech support guy and 'guy who is employed for nothing more than point to her right'?

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks maybe 40% of the people on the red carpet are being employed for the sole purpose of moving to block my views of Soairse Ronan wherever I'm standing. However that's a ridiculous idea... it's unlikely to be more than about 25%.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks maybe 40% of the people on the red carpet are being employed for the sole purpose of moving to block my views of Soairse Ronan wherever I'm standing. However that's a ridiculous idea... it's unlikely to be more than about 25%.

I believe this is Colm Toibin, the writer of the book upon which 'unnamed movie whose premiere is proving to be entirely horrendous' is based. I hear it's good.... if a little whiny.

I believe this is Colm Toibin, the writer of the book upon which 'unnamed movie whose premiere is proving to be entirely horrendous' is based. I hear it's good.... if a little whiny.

The crowd continues to mill at every possible angle on the carpet, while entourages, attendants, scribes and secretaries hold satchels, .... and even the people on the red carpet (who should be asked to move on into the cinema) are having to get inventive with the unsanctioned photography.

The crowd continues to mill at every possible angle on the carpet, while entourages, attendants, scribes and secretaries hold satchels, .... and even the people on the red carpet (who should be asked to move on into the cinema) are having to get inventive with the unsanctioned photography.

The last 300 random photos of the side of Saoirse Ronan's head have either been blurry, obscured by passers-by, or both; so it's a bit of a break from the frustration to photograph Eileen O'Higgins again briefly. I think the writer, director and novelist have all gone inside by now. Probably to update their twitter about how amazing the premiere has been.

The last 300 random photos of the side of Saoirse Ronan's head have either been blurry, obscured by passers-by, or both; so it's a bit of a break from the frustration to photograph Eileen O'Higgins again briefly. I think the writer, director and novelist have all gone inside by now. Probably to update their twitter about how amazing the premiere has been.

About a second before moving to head into the cinema, Saoirse Ronan looks vaguely in my direction as a couple of fans shout out her name. I feel like I should add some kind of heavenly light filter and a sound file of an angelic choir to accompany this image,

About a second before moving to head into the cinema, Saoirse Ronan looks vaguely in my direction as a couple of fans shout out her name. I feel like I should add some kind of heavenly light filter and a sound file of an angelic choir to accompany this image,

Saoirse Ronan heads over to sign for the disabled pen... and I've decided, all things considered, that I don't care. I'm going home.

Saoirse Ronan heads over to sign for the disabled pen... and I've decided, all things considered, that I don't care. I'm going home.

So... I know I come out of this journal sounding like a whiny b1tch. That's a valid observation because it's a free event and I should be happy with what I get. It's just that this one, for all the relatively lesser-known cast that were there (and the more well-known cast that weren't)... it could have aimed to be a lot more inclusive for the people who were there. For the most part this premiere gave no indication of its own necessity or desire for even existing as a premiere. This could have been done with a photocall or a press interview. Or facebook messenger.

That said, if there's a lesson to be taken out of this debacle, it's this : if you're going to whine about how crappy things are, it's worth staying for that last second. The final photos I took were the best - everything else before that was rubbish and disappointing.

But if the movie flops, I'm not going to be shedding any tears for it. I suppose I'll put it into The Archive Of All Movie Premieres anyway. And hopefully as soon as tomorrow all memories of this will be left behind as BFI LFF lurches ever onwards.

In the meantime:

Happier times yesterday with Amber Heard, Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch were better:
 

 

NOTE : further information I've become aware of explains why Saoirse Ronan didn't sign beyond the Autograph Dealers' area : as there were no pens (just an open barrier), it meant that the dealers, who have an 'infinite' supply of pictures and posters to get signed, continually followed along the barrier, getting in the way of legitimate fans and anyone else. The autograph dealers had apparently also been harrassing her at the BFI Q&A and even at Covent Garden when she was out with friends. And at this premiere, finally having had enough after one dealer shouted insistently at her to sign, I have first hand accounts that she told him (in what I shall assume was a sweetly-accented innocent voice) to 'fuck off'. And I think, based on all I observed... that is a pretty awesome thing, and kind of retrospectively makes this premiere kind of awesome even if it didn't benefit me and I wasn't there to hear it directly.

So this one's on the organisers : why weren't there pens to keep the autograph dealers safely confined and quarantined. (Also... why aren't dealers who are so aggressive that they're getting sworn at by Stars not banned from events??).

Who knows...

Until next time!

ps. Finally, if you want to know whenever I post a new premiere journal (and occasional angry rant, and, later, partial retraction), feel free to follow me on twitter @berndt2_photo or on facebook at premieresdotco