Back yesterday afternoon and straight into family life. So much so that I had no time to edit and post-produce images or write a blog post. You may also have read Hariclea’s two-part run-down here and here. (If not, go and see it from her perspective 😉 ) The total statistics of the weekend are: 1 old friend met, 2 new friends made, 2 queuing sessions, 8.5 hours queued in total, 2 hours of shooting and cheering, 18 celebs spotted, 338 photos shot, 73 useable images found. I’ll pepper the following post with some of them.
Yes, I am drawing this out over several posts. I am an avid student of the Dunn School of Marketing…
So, this is how it all came down for me: I arrived in London Saturday lunchtime and immediately launched into my exhibition programme. Straight from the airport to the V&A for my absolute must-do, an exhibition of photographer Horst P. Horst (fabulous stuff – really brilliant). Then back into town for my pilgrimage to the annual Taylor Wessing portrait photography prize, on show in the National Portrait Gallery. Hariclea had insisted on meeting me there, so we got a headstart in terms of getting to know each other. Afterwards we wandered around for a place to sit down and eat. I was slightly hampered by the fact that my debit card didn’t work and was basically down and out. Embarrassing, to say the least. Luckily I had had enough cash on me to cover my travel expenses. We finally parted at about 8pm – Hariclea having missed the first half of her opera that evening.
We had known in advance that access to the fan areas was with wristbands only. Those were supposed to be handed out from 12 noon on Sunday. I made my way into town and arrived on Leicester Square at a quarter to 10 – with two massive queues already in place. I joined one queue and immediately got chatting to two German girls in front of me. (If you are reading this, Meike and Lisa – it was a pleasure meeting you. You were a wealth of information and great fun to hang out with. Glad to have met you!!!) Hariclea was still on her way, having met cRAmerry off the tube from the airport, and Linda60 was travelling in from her own accommodation. By the time they arrived, I had been given a number on my hand – a guy had come round to number those people who were queuing. Felt a bit like being branded – and the feeling that we were part of a herd of cattle was one that persisted all weekend… Anyhow, the others arrived later and got numbers too. Word was that 1000 wristbands were going to be handed out, and those 1000 were guaranteed access to the premiere on Monday. Eventually, at about quarter to 12, we received our cattle tags
wristbands and were told not to be back before 11 am on Monday. I was number 683. *fistpump*
With access now guaranteed, I felt the pressure fall off my shoulders. I had been incredibly tense since Friday – getting everything done for my absence, work with last-minute requests, the money issue, the insecurity over access to the premiere. All that resolved and covered, it was time to enjoy the weekend. We walked over to the Tate Modern where I insisted on looking at a photo expo on “Conflict – Time – Photography”, which was stunning. I unsuccessfully tried to put the others off – the exhibition was 14.50 GBP in, but Hariclea and cRAmerry insisted… Linda60 opted out and went for a walk instead. We all hooked up again afterwards and went for a bite to eat. Called it a night relatively early in order to keep fresh for the big day, knowing that we’d be required to stand for a long time…
The Hobbit – The Battle Of The Best Spot
Monday morning I was again the first on site.
You can take the girl out of Germany, but you can’t take the German out of the girl… Ignoring the advice of the organisers, I was on Leicester Square at 9.45 am. And again the queues had already formed. I basically joined a queue arbitrarily – but it turned out to be the right one, as soon after my arrival the security guys started arranging us in sequence of our numbered wristbands – so I hooked up with the German girls from the Sunday queue again. Half an hour later Hariclea, Linda60 and cRAmerry turned up, too. And then the long waiting began. We stood outside the fan areas in chilly (but not freezing) temperatures until 3.30pm, passing the time with chatting and laughing and occasionally wandering off to take a look at the green carpet that was still being set up.
In fact, they worked on the premiere site until immediately before the arrival of the first celebs. The last van literally drove out as the first limo drew up. Those Brits are cool hands
or had a logistics break-down – no comparison to compulsively ready Berlin 2013 *ggg*. Anyhow, the fans were admitted in chunks of several hundred at a time. Our lot went in at about 3.30 pm. Like cattle we were essentially herded into a pre-assigned pen. There was no choice which of the pens you could go into and that’s how we ended up in a shite spot. Let me repeat that in capital letters for extra emphasis: S H I T E! I’ll put it on the map for you:
Essentially we were put in the corner. It was a shorter stretch of fan area at the corner of Leicester Square where the limos drove in to set down the celebs. There was a bit of confusion over where to place ourselves as spots at the railings were already taken, and we eventually settled in second row at a point where the limos exited out of the set-down area. (We had briefly experimented with another spot where we were at the front of the railings but which was were the limos would drive past and the celebs were still sitting inside the cars – but then moved back to a spot where we were we at least had a view of the green carpet…)
More waiting ensued. cRAmerry and Hariclea had brought three folding stools along (more or less in preparation for me – I had not been given access to the photography pen but had been told I could be in a raffle for access, and advised to bring a small step-ladder because the photography pen was likely to be three rows deep… The raffle was taking place on Monday at 4.50pm, and you had to be present to be in it. But as there was no guarantee that I would get lucky, and attending the raffle also meant giving up my spot in the fan area (with no re-admittance once leaving it), I had opted to stay with the fans rather than chance it…). The stools meant we could sit down once in a while – and later stand on it to look over the heads of those in front of us.
The Sequence of
As is usual at these events, it then happened really quickly. The first to arrive was Jed Brophy. Himself, Joshua Bell, Adam Brown and Sylvester Mc Coy completely passed us by. The first to come down into our cul-de-sac was Billy Boyd.
After him arrived Mr A himself. I didn’t see him get out of his limo and I never saw who accompanied him – his parents, I have heard? He arrived at about 6.24 but he was whisked away by his publicist before he could advance further into our corner. (I had never thought of making a poster again – it might have helped, I am now thinking, as his publicist had certainly steered RA towards us in Berlin… I think they are *very* fan conscious and I am not even pissed off that she more or less pulled him away from our corner – she was doing her job, that’s all, and she needed to get him over to the other side where NZ TV was doing initial interviews.)
Then came Luke Evans. Aidan Turner did not make it to our side.
Evangeline Lily did – and stayed extra long because she lost her dangly earring right in front of us and then had trouble getting it back in. She stood and fumbled for minutes – still a pretty sight, though!
Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, James Nesbitt, Andy Serkis all stayed on the other side of the green carpet.
But Orlando Bloom came down, and even took selfies with fans.
Then came Peter Jackson, and he proved to be the fan-friend he is reported to be. He really took his time, looked up to talk to fans, signed patiently, took pictures, asked question. Kudos to him – and his publicist – she actually had pointed him to our corner. She had been standing opposite us and knew how frustrated people were getting. Nice woman!!!
Gets His Own Heading
Then Cumberbatch arrived – with fiancée! She slunk in the background, but BC threw himself straight into the madness and started signing away, luckily going down our way. He was in our vicinity for three minutes – signing, posing for selfies. I was impressed with him again – and he provided me with my favourite image of the whole night.
I’m not kidding, this *is* my favourite image of the night. I love the colours in this, the blur, the overexposed bits of light and flash, the barely discernible faces. But I admit I am putting into practice what I have learnt in the Dunn School of Marketing – I am teasing you. Cumberbatch and I have a photo-thing going on because again, like in Berlin, he provided me with the best shot of the evening. Thank you, Mr C. You deserve not only a heading but a whole OT post for that! Coming soon.
Last celeb to arrive was Ken Stott, but didn’t come down near us.
By that time it was 7.30pm and the film supposedly was starting. I couldn’t wait to get out of the cattle pens, really, even though it was unclear whether anything else was going to happen. But we eventually left and went to a restaurant which we had perfectly timed with our reservation for 7.30pm. We sat and chatted until 11pm – well, it all had to be put into perspective… Especially for the two RA-premiere virgins Hariclea and cRAmerry.
And thus endeth the Battle of The Best Fan Spot