Euphoria: a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.
Last night I was given the unique opportunity to attend the Opening Night of the Seattle International Film Festival, featuring an advanced screening of Joss Whedon’s upcoming Shakespearean adaptation Much Ado About Nothing. Along with the screening, The Almighty Whedon himself would give an on-stage Q&A session along with several members of the cast. As passionate fans and financially impulsive college students, my friend Ali and I had gone the extra mile to purchase Red Carpet VIP passes to the event in pursuit of even the slightest of chance to meet those hallowed few who would be in attendance. While I will soon be posting my review of the film itself, I wanted to take a quick moment to share my experience with all of you.
We arrived at McCaW Hall in Seattle Center at about 5:30 in full awareness of the contradiction between our fancy attire and the 1996 Volvo Station wagon in which we had driven there (Her name is Daenerys and I’d choose her over any Benz, any time, any day). After passing through the gauntlet of volunteers and dutiful cameramen on the Red Carpet, we proceeded to the “VIP Lounge” and its promises of an open bar and unlimited hors d’oeuvres. It soon became clear that college students did not make up the usual population of that particular ticket level, and it was hard not to feel the slightest amount of awkward self-consciousness while surrounded by a roomful of people easily twice if not three times our age.
Once 6:30 rolled around, people started milling into the theater itself (which was not so much of a movie theater as it was a large performance hall, complete with Opera Boxes and multiple levels of seating). For about half an hour, the audience gave its due diligence and applauded a series of different award presenters and recipients related to the festival itself. Among these were the Seattle Mayor, Mike McGinn, and the departing director of the Film Festival, Debra Pearson. To be completely honest, I respect the accomplishments of these people and acknowledge their right to at least some recognition in front of an audience of that size, but my eagerness to see the feature presentation made it hard not to think back to Monty Python and the Holy Grail as time went on; “Get On With It!”
Finally, Joss himself came out with star Alexis Denisof to briefly introduce the film, at which point the lights finally extinguished themselves and the show began. Once again, I will be posting my full review of the movie later today, so I won’t touch on any specifics here. What I will say is that, despite some Old English related hang ups, I was absolutely giddy with enjoyment by the time the credits started rolling. By the sound of the audience around me, I wasn’t alone either. After the applause died down, the Q&A session with Whedon and cast members Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, and Clark Gregg began. Here are some of the highlights of that discussion.
- The entire movie was shot in 12 days, exclusively using Whedon’s own house as the set
- Clark Gregg wasn’t even formally asked to take part until the day before shooting
- The Police Station scenes were shot in the Dance Studio Whedon has in his basement
- The project was Whedon’s self-described method of “unwinding” from the ordeal of shooting The Avengers
- Cinematographer Jay Hunter received a nasty head wound from a stray camera while shooting, only to patch it up himself with “A towel, some ice and a belt” and continue filming on that same day
- When asked about his plans for future projects, Whedon answered with what he said were his three favorite words; “I Don’t Know”
In general, the Q&A gave a really great sense of how well these people get along in real life. With nearly every member of the cast having previously appeared in one or more of Whedon’s previous projects (Fillion on Firefly, Acker and Denisof on Angel, Kranz in Cabin in the Woods, Gregg in Avengers, etc.) the chemistry between the performers was easily visible in the film itself.
Finally, the show was over and the quest to meet the cast and crew began. We soon found that none of the staff really knew when or where the guests would be making their appearances, so we set out to find out ourselves. On the way, we passed through the packed after-party, the less packed secondary VIP Lounge, and more, all the while grabbing up as much free stuff as possible along the way (Once again, we’re poor college students, it goes against our DNA to pass up free anything). For all of our searching, we came up empty on the famous-person front. Feeling slightly defeated, we decided to look for our gift bags back near the first VIP lounge which we had awkwardly shared with our much older, much wealthier fellow guests.
And then we saw them…
Sure, maybe I’m being a bit over-dramatic but it felt pretty appropriately dramatic at the time. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve never met anyone remotely famous in person, and I really didn’t know how to act. How do you express years of appreciation of someone’s work in the 5-10 seconds before you have to let someone else take their turn? Well, I still don’t quite have a perfect answer to that question but, it turns out, you don’t need one when the person you’re meeting is as friendly and open as these people were. When you get approached by the same people over and over with the same sort of frenzied excitement, it would be easy to get a little cynical and aloof over time. That being said, it’s important for celebrities to put themselves in their fans’ shoes and realize how that kind of routine experience for them could be such a meaningful experience for the people who are fawning over them. I have a new level of respect for the people pictured below for this sort of respect they showed myself and the people around me. Luckily, Ali and I were able to preserve these moments of barely-controlled Fan-gasm in the pictures below.
Warning: Possible side effects of these images may include jealousy, nerd rage, heavy salivating, and, in Nathan Fillion’s case, overwhelming increase of Sex Drive.
As you can see from my face, when I say “Barely Controlled Fangasm” I mean Barely. I did at least keep my composure up to congratulate each person for the film and express my appreciation of their work in a brief manner. I also managed to tell Clark Gregg that I look forward to seeing his return to directing later this year with Trust Me, co-starring Gregg himself alongside Sam Rockwell, Molly Shannon, Allison Janney and more.
Well, I’ve rambled along for a while now but I’d like to thank you if you’ve made it this far down the page. I’ll leave off with this; if you EVER get the chance to meet one of your idols, whether it be an actor, a director, a musician, or whatever your fancy, TAKE IT. Even if you have to shell out a few extra bucks for a VIP pass, the experience will likely be one that you will never forget. I’d like to thank Mr. Whedon, the cast members, and the event coordinators at the Seattle International Film Festival for one of the best nights I’ve had in years.