Live-*ooof*ing for the Fandom
(a quick reblog upon request - and with the relevant images. I took them for you and I am happy for you to reblog, even repost them - but if so please remember to credit. That’s all I am asking!!)
Note on the quality: Not that happy - but well, the fangirling took its toll…
Processing is over. I am back on home turf after
five four memorable days. Five? Four? Well, my journey almost didn’t happen. It almost finished before it began, and it certainly tested my resolve. Because I actually totally overslept on Saturday morning and woke up at 8 am - half an hour after my flight had already left for Berlin. I lamented, I screamed, I cursed - and then immediately booked a new flight for the next day. Thanks to the cheap airfares of budget airlines…
However, after such a bad start, it took a lot of strength not to consider the whole trip doomed. And now, two days after the big event, after a some rehashing, deliberating and most of all - reliving - I can say it was an exciting adventure that surpassed my expectations in many ways. And in others didn’t. But more about that later…
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug European premiere was scheduled to start at 6.30 pm on Monday evening. I was going to attend together with my RL RA-friend D___, as well as Linda60 and UtePirat with whom I had made contact in the run-up to the event. Based on my experience from last year in London, where things had been more than calm at Leicester Square until 2pm, I had planned a leisurely morning and an eventual arrival at the red carpet around mid-day. However, UtePirat was adamant that we needed to be there in the morning. She hooked up with a German board contingent at 8.30 am and gave me a buzz - so myself and D___ jumped on the S-Bahn and joined them later. Linda60 also turned up and joined our bunch.
Thanks to the German board ladies we were able to bag a great spot for some red carpet crawling. Mind you, by the time we got there, the first row was already taken. But they had actually positioned themselves on a bench right by the railings, and I knew right away that that was the perfect spot for taking pictures from – unrestricted view onto the red carpet, no heads in front of me, nicely illuminated from above with a row of spotlights. And a very narrow space for fans opposite to our spot – which meant that the celebs would probably stay on our side and grace us with their presence.
However, I made a few attempts at getting accreditation for the press area – but could not get hold of the press office. In the end I was very happy to stay with my fandom friends – no better place to fangirl but with other fangirls - rather than with grumpy, elbow-wielding photographers. Mind you, the elbows were out in force among the fan throng, too. We had to fight for our spot and keep latecomers out. Never underestimate the determination of the mature fangirl, I say!!! - There was a lot of waiting. Waiting. And waiting. But also a lot of fun, hooking up with other fans – it took me several hours to realise that a group of young Armitage fans was standing right beside me. And then to find out that I actually “knew” a couple of them from tumblr!! That’s the drawback of internet anonymity – with everyone hiding behind an avatar of RA’s smiling visage, you can’t recognise each other in the crowd. We passed the time cheerfully.
As for the actual appearance of our admired actor, well, this is what happened: After eight hours of waiting, things all of a sudden got into the swing. RA was one of the first celebs to arrive at the red carpet. When I spotted him from my high vantage point – about 10 metres away – I felt a jolt of excitement strike through me. There he was, unmistakably him. He edged closer to us, signing an autograph, smiling, another step, posing for a picture, smiling, another step, a brief look up to acknowledge a fan saying hello, another step. UtePirat held up my sign, and finally RA was close enough for me to take some pictures. I concentrated on the photography. Richard paused briefly when he saw the sign, then moved on, signing autographs, smiling. I clicked away. He was right in front of me, and he was signing for the girls in front of me. I photographed. I was cursing inwardly, because all I was seeing was his down-turned face, concentrating as he was, on signing his name on the autograph cards in front of him. But a big camera like mine is hard to overlook – as is someone who is towering on a bench over the others, so he did actually look up, as he was in front of me, briefly, and for a moment I could see him looking at my camera, and I frantically aimed and released the shutter. I had no time to think, though, as he was inevitably moving on. There was no time to acknowledge his brief reaction to my camera. Like a part on an assembly line he was moved on further along the railings while I fired more shots, occasionally just blindly aiming into the throng without looking through the viewfinder. He switched sides and crossed over to the other side of the red carpet to sign for the fans there, and I quickly remembered Servetus’ post from after the LA premiere where she had been so pleased someone took a picture of the
peaches cut of RA’s suit from behind, and I took some shots even though he was a bit too far away for my 70mm zoom.
And that was it. Mind you – I had no time to process that brief fan encounter right there and then. The celebs kept coming, and I shot and shot and shot. Martin Freeman. After him Ed Sheeran. Peter Jackson, Adam Brown and his pal Graham McTavish. Sylvester McCoy. Ken Stott. And then Benedict Cumberbatch. What a charming man!!! Andy Serkis. My “adopted” countryman Aidan Turner together with Dean O’Gorman, of course! Finally Evangeline Lilly. The rear brought up by Orlando Bloom. While I was photographing them, too, RA was being interviewed by the German presenters. I briefly groaned at the circus chestnut and some lapse about the pronunciation of Armitage, but I did not really hear what they were talking about. So it was about an hour later when all the celebs had passed by and I finally took the camera away from my face, that I was able to feel and think. I had a strange post partum feeling – an inexplicable emotion tinged with sadness that I could not quite put my finger on. After all I had gotten what I wanted – an opportunity to take some pictures of RA at the red carpet. And from a brilliant spot. And I knew that I had got a few shots in the bag. But still… It occurred to me then that I had no proper recollection of the event. It had passed so quickly. I couldn’t even remember what Armitage was wearing – I was convinced, for instance that he wore no tie. I had noticed his nice hair and the dark lashes and the nape curls still happily curling. But that was it. I suddenly knew that I had been in work mode not in fan mode. I had concentrated on my work, shooting pictures, capturing RA in my viewfinder, framing him, focussing and releasing the shutter. I had photographed but not seen him – I had filtered the event through my camera. It was like wiitnessing a situation through a screen, once removed, being present, but not living it. And as much as I love photography, I suddenly regretted that.
It was only then, for instance, that Linda60 informed me about Armitage’s reaction to my sign. Apparently he had been engrossed in signing and posing, so his assistant/agent/red carpet hostess (?) had stopped him, and pointed it out to him. He looked up and then asked what it meant (yay – just what I wanted), and they explained it to him. His two companions also took photos of it.
However, it was a great opportunity to experience the excitement and the buzz of such an evening. Even if I personally had alienated myself from the situation, at least I had the images to relive the event. So looking through the images, I filled the gaps of my consciousness. Richard looked fine – slim and very handsome in his dark blue suit. The stubble was in full force, and the curls were curling delightfully. He had a friendly smile on his face and he was doing his best to fulfill the fans’ request for photos and signatures. I felt he may have been a little bit impatient to get through the red carpet procedure – understandably so, as he was probably hoping to spend some time with his family, experiencing the excitement of a major premiere with his loved ones. And maybe, maybe this whole thing is not really quite his thing. Even I found the situation overwhelming – the incessant shouts “Richard, Richard”, the buzz of excitement, the palpable expectations of the fans to get a second of his attention, the constant flashing of the camera. Oh how his face must have ached from all the smiling ;-) But he did it admirably, calmly, with the grace and professionalism that we are used to seeing him display. He was radiant, and even though I can only come to this conclusion in hindsight, I must say he put on a good show – and it was certainly no hardship exposing oneself as a fan of Richard Armitage.
You go, RA – it was lovely to see you in the flesh. I hope you had as good an evening as I had. You illuminated the red carpet singlehandly with your smile – and you deserve all the attention you can get. Thanks for a bright evening! And for bringing together so many people who bonded over the shared admiration of your talent. I had a ball – I hope you did, too!