Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Angelina Jolie Incident

Okay, this is by far our most popular "celebrity" story from the Cannes film festival:

So we had spent several days trying to plug a film that we were working on, spreading the word about the films we were showing there, and trying to see as many movies as we could in the space between. We were ready for a low-key film industry-free day on the beach. We packed our beach bags and headed out.

There are several "beaches" with piers owned by the different hotels in Cannes. You have to maneuver around them if you just want to walk along the shore. During the festival, many of them are closed for private parties and whatnot. We tried to just casually ignore these obstacles and walk over the fences as if they were nothing. Suddenly, we came upon a security guard and his Rotweiller (with muzzle removed). He approached us. I casually explained (in my best French) that we were just trying to walk along the beach and how frustrating it was that all of these tourists were here ruining that, etc. He nodded and said we could pass through AS LONG AS we continued to pass through. No stopping.

Well, you can't say that and not expect a person to be curious as to why they can't stop. So we stopped. We soon realized that we were in the middle of a paparazzi feast! I gathered bits and pieces of what was going on. I heard Angelina Jolie was coming. I thought it was odd that all of these photographers were here just to see her "arrive." I was under the impression that she was out on a yacht somewhere and was just arriving at the festival. Still, Angelina Jolie? Sure, we'll stay for that! So now, here we are.



We decide to pull out our festival badges and turn them around backwards so that we would at least look official. Suddenly, an American woman approaches us. She asks if she can share our "spot." Fine by us! We weren't even supposed to have a "spot." She then tells us that she had reserved a space further up the pier, but that some French photographer had come and sneakily placed his camera bag on top of hers, thereby claiming the space as his (I don't know, I don't speak paparazzo, but I guess that's how it works. Aspiring paparazzi- don't leave home without a very large camera bag). We sympathize. She's grateful. Now we have a "buddy" to hang out with. We are looking more and more official! She tells us some alarming things about the life of a paparazza (which she insists that she is not- she is a professional photo-journalist and the company that she works for just sent her here). She informs us that you can get a cool million for a "first kiss" photo or (as we have recently learned from the subject of this blog post) a first baby photo. It's somewhat eye-opening. No wonder they are so crazy. All you need is one good photo per year (or even your whole life) and have it made in the shade!

A Canadian videographer pops up out of nowhere. He works with the woman. He tells her that he got the whole conflict on tape and that they will use it to prove what a jerk he was. He then introduces himself to us. He is covering the film festival for AMC. He wants us to do a "spot" for the non-existent (yet) film that we have been pushing. Okay. I'm not wearing any makeup, I didn't bother to do my hair, I'm wearing half a bathing suit under some dirty shirt (hey, this was supposed to be a beach day) and here I am, talking to AMC about a film we haven't even made yet! Still, I'm being interviewed. That seals it. No security guard is going to bug us now!

The excitement starts. The energy shifts. We follow the examples of everyone around us and raise our little "point and click" camera up amongst the giant Nikon cameras with telephoto lenses! They say that size doesn't matter, but in this situation, I would have to argue with that!

There she is! Ah ha! It turns out that she is NOT just coming in for the festival, but that she is doing a promo for "Shark Tale!" She was there with her little boy who watched gleefully as she put on a life vest and then...sat on an inflatable shark attached to a speedboat! Can you imagine having this on your schedule for your work day?



A buff, handsome man in sunglasses gets on in front of her. The circumference of his arms makes me think, "ah ha! Bodyguard." A kind of large, disheveled man gets on behind her. The circumference of his belly makes me think, "um, press agent?" The boat starts up and the three of them begin slowly circling in the water for the cameras! It was somewhat surreal and funny as hell (all three of the shark riders were laughing, too):




But wait a second! Why is the bodyguard waving and making peace signs? And why is the press agent hamming it up, humping the shark and singing "Shaaark Taaaaaale!" I look at the poster for the film. Hold on! That's no bodyguard- it's Will Smith! And the guy on the back is not a press agent, it's Jack Black! The press show continues with screaming photographers.



Jack Black, the former press agent, jumps off the shark. The French police come to fish him out (you can't have an American movie star die in French waters- it just looks bad)!





The shark docks and its passengers disembark. The energy falls. The photographers are abuzz- chatting about the incredible shot they got, etc. We begin to leave. This has been an energetic and fun diversion, but we want to relax! On the way out, Carl grabs my camera. He tells me that he has a feeling that they are going to walk down the pier and stop to pose. I give him my camera. He strategically places himself. Sure enough, they stop. Well, Will Smith and Angelina Jolie stop. Jack Black is still swimming around in the water:



Here comes Jack:






It doesn't take the paparazzi long to realize that Carl has snatched the best spot. He is soon beaten over the head. Okay. We've had enough. This is fun, but it's not worth bleeding for!

We walk up the stairs to leave the press fiasco. We are surrounded by curious and eager people. There were literally hundreds of people watching excitedly, trying to get where we happened to be. We felt like movie stars ourselves!

And yes, Will Smith really is hot. Yes, Jack Black really is goofy and funny. And no, Angelina Jolie is not as pretty in real life as she is in the movies. She's actually more beautiful!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Cannes 2004

Well, this blog is called "An Astronomer in Hollywood." So far, I've written a lot about Astronomy and a lot about my particular kind of filmmaking, but I seem to be lacking...Hollywood!

So due to popular demand, I have decided to post some photos from a trip to Cannes that I took two years ago with my best friend/partner in crime Carl.

So, here we are at the red carpet. No, seriously! See, you can totally tell: that blue blur is Uma Thurman, the black blur to her left is Quentin Terantino, and to her right, well (if I have to tell you), that's obviously Daryl Hannah. This was for Kill Bill Volume...whatever it was that came out in 2004...



Okay, I guess that wasn't very exciting. That was just the video projection of what was going on on the other side of the crowd that we were stuck behind. What was exciting was being on the red carpet:



No, seriously. It was a red carpet:



That was for Yimou Zhang's film "House of Flying Daggers." It was beautiful on the big big screen! It's fun to go to the red carpet screenings at Cannes. They screen the films several times throughout the day for the press. It's often easier to get into those screenings, but it's fun to do the red carpet at least once while you are there! The paparazzi snap your photos pretty viciously! Even if you are not a person People magazine would pay money to have on their pages, they can play off your vanity later and sell you the photo of yourself. I will expand on the cushy living a good paparazzo can make in my next blog.

If that wasn't glamorous enough for you, how's this:



Now for some serious film business shots. You've got to have the right 'tude if you're going to pass yourself off as a film producer:



I was showing one of my short films ("Snowbird") at the Short Film Corner in the Cannes Market. That wasn't the primary reason for attending the festival, but I wanted it to have a good screening. I wrote my posters and flyers out by hand. Tip: this works really well in the time of slick multi-colored glossy postcards. People could not resist picking them up! And yes, both cups of coffee and the pack of cigarettes are mine! I think we slept about 3-4 hours per night there:



By the way, I highly recommend this! There are no requirements for entering the Short Film Corner. Your films are not "judged" and "selected." You simply pay the entry fee and, voilà! You're in the festival. Not only that, but the entry fee is quite reasonable (70 Euros at the time) and you get festival acreditation which allows you to enter the market and attend film screenings. The Short Film Corner is available all day to producers and distributors who watch the films in little private booths. You also get a "theatrical" (video) screening with several other films. I was very pleased with the turnout for my film. In fact, it got to go to Paramount Classics (where they informed me that they don't "do" short films but to contact them as soon as I have feature work)!

Carl transformed his hair to match the carpet. It's unfortunate that we don't have a shot of him in his green satin scarf on the red carpet. Alas, it was hard enough to stop and take one photo when they are urging you up the stairs! Amusingly, the French have one very strict requirement for walking up the red carpet: Men MUST be wearing a black bowtie. No tie, no movie. Carl's was hidden under his scarf, so of course he got stopped (in the same manner as someone who has just set off the metal detector at the airport). He had to peel away his scarf and show his tie. The security guard nodded. Carl re-covered his tie and made his way to the carpet. I guess one doesn't need to be able to see the tie, you just have to have one...???

Anyway, Carl before:



And after:



And now we both have only one degree of separation:



The American Pavilion (where he was speaking with Nicole Kassell, Kyra Sedgwick and Benjamin Bratt about Kassell's film "The Woodsman") was cooking breakfast before he came in. It was kind of amusing when Carl and I looked at each other and said, "do you smell...bacon?" Seconds later, Kevin Bacon walked in the door.

I have to put some "real" photographs in here! We took a break from the festival to go visit l'île Saint Honorat. This is a small island run by monks. It was a nice break from the noise:





Thursday, June 22, 2006

It's Twins!

Every year, the deer come to our neighborhood to give birth. This year, she happened to choose our yard. This was the scene when I came home for my lunch:

Twin #1:




Twin #2:



This was just moments after their birth. Now, they return to our yard every day to either take a nap, eat our roses and pansies, or spend the night (one of them is under our bench every morning):



Tuesday, June 13, 2006

For jmac

Thought this might cheer you up!

And no, everyone, it is NOT cruel! Despite the way she looks, she actually loves having her day at the spa (drug-free) and being better able to tolerate 100 degree (no exaggeration- that's how hot it was today) heat. By the way, I did NOT put the bow on her head and it was promptly removed after these shots:







I hope your kitty gets better. Your "get better soon" wishes helped my kitty get better.

Thursday, June 08, 2006