Monday, July 19, 2010
Adrian Grenier's in town right now promoting his new documentary Teenage Paparazzo currently playing at the New Zealand Film Festival. Before watching the film I wrote this about it for Metro: The life of a paparazzi photographer has always held something of a romantic appeal to me. It's the thrill of the chase, the celebrity encounters, the easy money. But then there's the flipside – the stalking, the constant provocation, the bottom-feeding. How do they sleep at night? On piles and piles of dollar bills, that's how.
I've experienced the job on a number of occasions (though I'm yet to reap any fiscal rewards) – chasing Tyra Banks around town, filming Justin Bieber at Auckland Airport and snapping stars backstage at various fashion shows – Sienna Miller, Adrien Brody, Cate Blanchett, the Hiltons and Chris Brown among others. It's a huge buzz, but you begin to feel a bit dirty after a while. Lousy. Regretful. Trashy. Ashamed.
Now imagine that lifestyle as a 13 year old.
Teenage Paparazzo documents Adrian Grenier (better known as movie star Vinnie Chase in Entourage) following preteen pap Austin Visschedyk around Hollywood. It's a study of celebrity and the (often symbiotic) relationship between personality and paparazzo. Along the way, the tables get turned - through his association with Grenier, Visschedyk becomes a demi-celeb in his own right.
I liked Teenage Paparazzo. It gave a good insight into the world of the paparazzi, the relationship between celebrities and paparazzi, and the folly of youth (as the young photographer's star rose, so did his brat-factor). Go see it if you have any interest in the business of fame.
After the film had ended, Grenier did a 30 minute Q&A session. As a devout watcher of Entourage, it was so bizarre to see him as the introspective Adrian Grenier and not the movie star Vinnie Chase. People kept saying that throughout the documentary but to listen to it and to experience it are two different matters entirely. Without sounding like a creepy stalker, after watching every season of Entourage at least three times (often more), I know everything there is to know about Vinnie Chase and all the other characters. I know how they think, what motivates them and what makes them tick. And, ridiculous as it might sound, I care about them.
And I guess that's the crux of what the paparazzi and the gossip magazines do. They give you a voyeuristic insight into the lives of celebrities to the point where you have an emotional attachment to those people. Teenage Paparazzo's greatest strength is that it goes behind the scenes and reveals how (and why) this is achieved by the media. Spoiler: we all think other people's lives are more interesting than our own. The film should be required viewing for high schoolers everywhere.
I LIKE YOU!