Some of you may have already been waiting for this. The official write-up and the full photographic loot of the UATSC premiere in Leeds. A little preamble – there is enough material here to draw this out as a loooong, slooooow, and sweet death by
guylty pleasure, and since RL demands my attention, I will not be able to post everything tonight. Rather than just upload all the pictures, I’d like to put them into context and describe the event as it unfolded. And that takes a bit of time. I will post about the UATSC premiere in three parts, in chronological order. Part 1 deals with the premiere in Chapel FM on Saturday, part 2 will describe the second screening in Hyde Park Picture House on Sunday, and part 3 concludes the whole saga with a review of the film. I’ll post on three consecutive days, so it’ll be all there, soon. Right, without further ado, let’s get into it. I’ll try to be quick. If you want to skip my “dear diary” style account, jump to the various subheadings that describe the paragraphs.
We arrived at the venue a good bit before the scheduled screening of the film – but we were not the first. The place was still teeming with the attendants of the afternoon showing. Fans were mainly gathered outside the front door of Chapel FM, where a few steps and a ramp led up to the door. Just as we arrived, a lady asked the fans to line up behind the railing of the steps/ramp and arrange themselves there for a nice photo-op with RA eventually signing for us.
Guylty slunk into the background, not eager to become a photo-op herself *ahem*. First contacts were made among the fans – I recognised a fan with whom I had spent a post-performance dinner last year in London. Small world. RA, ever the lovely uncle of the fandom, was concerned for his fans waiting in the cold and sent word via text message that he was delayed but on his way. Aw. Ten minutes later he sent another text, asking whether the fans had liked the film. Ever the thoughtful gentleman, so sweet…
Eventually a dark car drew up and among spontaneous gasps and moans of delight (of the fans!), a lanky figure extricated itself from the backseat. Rumour has it, that what sounded like late Guy Fawkes’ night fireworks in the surrounding estate, was actually overactive female reproductive organs popping in unison upon the sight that greeted us: A casually dressed RA in a white V-necked T-shirt under a black blazer, black trousers and the seen-before blue trainers. Devastatingly handsome, especially coupled with his usual shy demeanour. First thought: the beard is off *hoorah*, the hair is short – and the Berlin Station look will be gorgeous. Think Lucas North, 5 years older. Mind you, scratch the “older”. Without the beard, considerably slimmed down and with the short, meticulously cut hair, RA looked amazingly young! Swoon? Hell, yes.
Signing and selfies
Mr A said a shy but rather happy sounding “helloooo?” to the fans (as if he wondered whether we were really all there for him) and launched straight into signing. I had the impression that he preferred to be near to the throng rather than stand apart, happily signing and posing for selfies. He did not say much
although I wouldn’t really know, I am too absorbed in photographing to notice or hear anything that is being said while I shoot but commented favourably on Linda60’s copy of Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew which she had brought along for signing. Duh, I had forgotten my copy in the hotel. But in the event I was too busy with shooting, anyway. He then entered the venue through a side door while the fans piled into the foyer of Chapel FM.
Inside and introduction
After a short wait, we were allowed to take our seats in the small venue. How intimate it was, I only realised when I saw the official photos afterwards. I think the capacity of the venue was 70 seats. Not all were taken, but what looked like empty seats in some of the pictures you may have seen online, were actually the seats reserved for the celebrity guests who are sitting on the panel in the photos. Before the screening started, RA, Candida Brady and Bernard Hare came to the front and said a few introductory words. By that time I was photographing again, encouraged by the energetic clicking from the photographer who hunched by my side for a while and then took pictures from all angles. I can’t recall anything that was being said (Guylty in work mode) but a fan two seats to the right of me filmed the whole introduction. Edit: A video of the intro taken from further back and courtesy of ArmitageUniverse is available on Youtube here. You will see the pictures from the introduction in the photo grid below – the venue had some rather cheesy pink mood-lighting, which accounts for the weird discolouration in the pics and the grainy look.
To my astonishment, RA, Brady and Hare actually did watch the film together with us! I had somehow expected him to sign, say a few introductory words – and slink out. But no, he watched it there and then. And as Lily had said to me beforehand, it felt actually quite special to share this experience with him, being there as he watched the film for the first time. I wish I had sat closer to him – just to hear him laugh at the amusing bits in the film.
Ha, someone should’ve taped that. I bet, a recording even just of RA breathing would go down a treat within the fandom LOL. Although the film ended on a hopeful note, applause was delayed a bit until the end credits had almost finished rolling (if I remember this correctly) – I think everyone was still digesting what we had just seen. And I mean that in the best possible way; even though the film is not as gritty and shocking as the book, there was still much food for thought in it. (Proper review following in a separate post.)
RA, Brady and Hare proceeded to the front of the hall and sat down behind the table on the panel for a Q&A. It was very ably conducted by the director of the venue/community centre who asked interesting questions before opening the session up to the floor. It was very interesting to see the three participants answer the questions posed to them, and I am pleased to report that it did not all centre on Mr A but the audience gave due attention to film maker Candida Brady and writer Bernard Hare. The latter was very softly spoken and obviously not a public speaker. And as a non-native speaker of English I occasionally had trouble understanding his Yorkshire accent. But he came across as a quietly strong man, not keen on the limelight, but happy to take the occasion and speak about a cause that is close to his heart. – Candida Brady was an enthusiastic speaker and went into details about how the film came about, occasionally veering off a bit. She thanked anyone for attendance and later added that any help with promotion through Social Media channels was much appreciated. In fact, Mr A proved to be the most articulate and eloquent of the panelists. As a theatre performer, he is probably unfazed by a live audience (although public ex tempore speaking is a different kettle of fish to acting memorised lines), and he is probably also the most experienced of the three panelists when dealing with an interview/panel situation. He had a lovely, clear way of expressing himself, and it was evident that he had pondered the general topic. He also came across as an attentive listener, interested in the questions that were posed and the answers that were given, looking at the speakers and signalling his interest.
The most evocative moment for me came when he picked up a question that had been posed by Hariclea. She had asked Brady how the young actors had reacted to the storyline – had learning about and acting the shocking lives of the “shed crew” affected them in any way? Brady passed the question on to the mother of young actor Oscar Rodgers (?) (Sam), who was present. She answered at length but not quite to the point. Armitage proved very observant and jumped in at the end, addressing the issue of age appropriateness. It was obvious that this was a problem that he had thought about himself, and he expressed the view that while children need to be protected from some content and harsh realities of life, it is also important to teach them not to be ignorant of the strife of others. He mentioned that his family was going to attend the screening on the following day, including his young nephew, and he wanted to make sure that the film was appropriate for his nephew to watch. But he advocated a middle way between explaining and protecting. A fitting final speech before the end of the Q&A. The panelists received warm applause from the audience and then the event was over.
Impressions of a fan girl
A last personal note: Myself, I had a seat in the second row from the front and could not see RA who was sitting between Brady and Hare. And, boy was I glad to be shielded by Helen in front of me who inadvertently blocked my direct view to Mr A. Abby’s comment still rings true: “Looking at RA is like staring at the sun” – it felt too intense, and somehow indecent, an infringement of privacy. Through no fault of his, I hasten to add, but due to my keenly felt internal imbalance between being an anonymous member of the audience, yet “knowing” a lot about an actor whom I *do not* know. I looked at him when he spoke, only, leaning over to see him, but could not bear to look any other time. A weird dichotomy to my behaviour as a photographer, who is a voyeur by default, looking at people through the magnification of a lens, yet shielded by it at the same time.
Mr A briefly stood directly beside me as we were getting up to put on coats and leave, a solid, very tall wall of black, who did not exude any particular hurry to get out of there or to be ignored by the public, but lingered and chatted with Brady and Hare. As I turned to go, I received an involuntary update on current trends in menswear. Apparently snug trouser pants are neither de rigueur nor en vogue any more *sound of a thousand fan girl hearts breaking*. Could someone please let Mr A know that it is a shame and a crime to hide the taut, muscular orbs of his peachy bum under loose-fitting hipster pants!
The Chapel FM premiere was an intimate, very special event that exceeded all my expectations. It all felt relaxed, with discreet security, and a star who seemed to be happy to be there and keen to see the reaction of the public to his work. “Approachable” is not really a word I would use in this context, as the gulf between celebrity and fan is always there, but both sides in this encounter were respectful and very pleasant. There was no stampede and no overstepping of boundaries. RA was very generous with his attention, signed and posed for all who hoped to receive a moment of his time. In turn, the fans showered him with their appreciation. The positivity at the event was palpable – there was such an atmosphere of general delight and giddy happiness, I find that quite touching, and I hope that some of that intangible energy also passed to Mr A, as the gift that we, as fans, can give back to him for sharing his talent with us.
More pics in the gallery grid below. These are the
vaguely acceptable ones, although there are more.
All images © Guylty Pleasure 2015. These images are for non-commercial use only. As my usual contribution to the fandom, you are welcome to repost them, but please credit me if you do.
A technical note on photography
For those who are interested in photography, here are a few notes. As usual, the image loot does not live up to Guylty’s stringent demands. Shooting without flash means cranking up the ISO (light sensitivity of the sensor). This results in grain, which makes the images appear slightly fuzzy, particularly at high resolution. It also means shooting as slowly and as widely as possible, i.e. with a slow shutter speed of 1/30s and a large aperture of f4. The former means that the slightest movement takes the subject out of focus; the latter means that only a very particular visual plane is in focus, anyway, while everything else in front or behind that plane falls off. If only Mr A held still for more than a second 😉… Alas, he had too many fans to serve.
The images may look better if your resize them to 1000 x 666 px, which still gives you a decent sized image – but looks relatively sharp. Also, cross lighting inside and outside the venue results in discolouration and unnatural tones, hence the occasional photographer’s trick of desaturating and converting to b/w.