Thursday, March 29, 2012

The LEGENDARY @Joe_Dante talks with @FilmClubUK ...AND ANSWERS MY TWEET!

It isn't possible for me to adequately express how exciting this last hour has been. I serendipitously found out about the Joe Dante interview webcast live from L.A. from his Twitter feed...which I saw because I've had Firefox minimised to a wee box  whilst I 'work' on my thesis. This is my 'method' of productivity and no-one is here to judge it as I've not left the house in about 3months as I desperately try to rewrite a shit-ton of research into a manageable, readable entity.

I had my Twitter account for a few years and it had fallen fallow, like this blog, for a good couple of those, but something triggered an interest last week and I started using it again. It had been a place for me to connect with queer media, which was my main interest back when I was using it regularly. Now, I'm into celeb-stalking... Not really stalking...more like collecting baseball cards (for American readers from the 1930s-1980s) or wee stickers, often fuzzy, which were swapped in the playground (for Brits from the 1990s, maybe just in the Midlands, maybe just my town, or even my school...). My motto right now is 'Gotta catch 'em all!' Wikipedia tells me this is the catchphrase from Pokemon, but having never Pokemoned, I can only assume they are sounds right: it certainly sounds familiar.

Basically, my aim is to 'collect' (i.e. follow) those people I've seen on screen - movies or television, I'm not fussy. I don't follow authors, musicians, politicians, activists, bloggers, journalists, or any other genre of Tweeple who populate the Twitterverse. I'm pretty narrow in my tastes. In fact, I've gone back to those I previously followed and unfollowed quite a lot of them - sorry, if that's you!

Now my passion is finding the real, preferably verified, Twitter accounts of those human beings from CelebLand but only those I've previously seen in something. If I have to google or search for you, if I need to dig out a photo of the thing you were in and rack my brains to see if I remember you, then you are not whom I seek.

I admit the thrill of the chase is a big part of it. If I see that there are few followers, but I am certain that this truly is the real person I recognise from cinematic or televisual pleasures, then I am instantly a member of a secret club, the select people who have worked out where to find the cyber representation of this star. THAT IS INCREDIBLE!

Parapazzi get uncomfortably close, the deranged even closer, but only family, friends, management and colleagues get regular access to celebrities. Twitter allows us to know what they want to tell us (sometimes with photographs or weblinks attached). Rubbish celebrities just retweet charitable or political messages and say nothing personally relevant or meaningful. Rubbish celebrities focus entirely on promoting their film, perfume, etc. and you know the Twitter account is just a marketing scheme, probably run by an assistant. But the genuinely great celebrities tell you they are bored in LAX & ask for Draw Something companions. Great celebrities post pics of their dogs lolling in their trailer & gush about their kids.

I don't need the nitty-gritty of these people's lives; I don't want to know their shopping habits or when they visit the gynaecologist. I simply want a fairly regular witticism or update of their (not so) exciting lives. I want to peep behind the curtain to see the Wizard and his levers. The magic of film is immense and too often ignored. Having these people in your room entertaining you (mostly for free) is unbelievable! You get actual humans telling a story, encouraging emotive responses, educating the audience. The nearest you could get in The Olden Days was to hire a whore. How else could you get such corporeality, thrumming with life, giving something of themselves to make you feel better? Only the super-rich could afford acting troupes to visit them. Reading and the radio are great, but if you want to be taken beyond your own imagination into visions, emotions, concepts that you could not create, there is nothing like film.

I am a lazy, misanthrope so going outside to be with other people at the theatre, cinema, etc. is very far from my ideal night. But a twenty minute SitCom or two hours of polished expositions and explosions, well, there is nothing finer.

So, today, after many days of toil, in strictly non-academic pursuit, my thesis was no nearer completion, but my list of those I follow on Twitter was over a thousand-strong. I'd pruned away those who didn't meet my 'strict' entertainment policy (sorry, @EstelleDarlings and @ToniBraxton) and managed to find absolute gems (@KierstenWarren and @MerEaton), but I had made an exception: Mr Joe Dante.

As director of my ALL TIME FAVOURITE MOVIE The 'Burbs, I decided I needed him in my Twitter life. Thus when I spotted that he was doing a live interview later in the afternoon, it was a fluke, A COMPLETE FLUKE, that I spotted this tiny tweet. PURE CHANCE. My timeline has at least five new tweets each minute, more than I can possibly read, but his caught my eye - it was just luck.

So there I was, wandering over to the recommended site just after 4pm wondering how the webcast was going and I realised that they were taking questions. Well, my fingers flew and crafted a tweet...and I waited. It appeared on the Twitter feed next to the viewing window; it had been retweeted by FilmClubUK HQ, who were hosting the interview from their charity's website. I figured they were retweeting all questions sent to them, but no, I checked the tweets sent to @FilmClubUK - there were plenty of others, mine was chosen! The interview was fun, with questions mostly from school children (the target group of this charity and the webcast) who probably are too young to even remember Small Soldiers, nevermind his 80's classics.

Then someone asked about the project he most enjoyed making and Mr Dante started talking about Inner Space. INNER SPACE! My second favourite movie! WHICH I HAD MENTIONED IN MY TWEET!

Would it happen? Would they segue into my question? I wanted to call someone up to tell them what was happening, but what could I say? 'I've not done any real work in ages because I've cultivated a Twitter presence which may now be getting me a real, live interaction with Mr Joe Dante, smash-zoom genius?' So I waited perched on my office chair, wondering if there was someway I should be celebrating/recording this moment for posterity.

Then it happened. The interviewer said they'd received a tweet from BioGal. Well, I nearly fell off the chair. I heard him read off the essence of my tweet: that Inner Space and The 'Burbs are favourite movies but they are from specific eras and would they be successful if released today? Then Mr Dante, legend, agreed that they were of a specific cinematic era and talked about Inner Space and the technology and how it would fair in today's film market. Or at least I think he did - I was too excited to pay proper attention. I managed to eek out a tweet to say my question was being answered RIGHT NOW and then I had a moment of disabling euphoria, which hasn't really dissipated, even now.

So here I am blogging about my eventful afternoon, thinking about how lucky I was and wondering how I can casually mention this (somewhat obscure) claim to fame to everyone I ever meet...ever.

On a final note about celebrity twitter connections, there is definitely an art to this practice. Collecting them and reading their insights is great, but tweeting them AND GETTING A REPLY is beyond awesome. I completely geek out. It is like I'm reaching into a film, asking everyone to stop for a minute whilst I ask the character on screen if they prefer tea or coffee after a meal in a restaurant. Yes, my inquiries can be that banal.

There is a technique to getting celebrities to tweet back and it is a bit like flirting, but it is actually quite an interesting topic so I am going to write an academic paper about it: SUPERGEEK. Anyway, without revealing too many trade secrets you have to be mindful of number of followers they have, the time of day in their time zone, whether they tend to reply to random people, whether they seem to be real celebs or automated accounts, whether they are tweeting RIGHT NOW, whether their tweets tend to be 'hey, this is what I'm doing, bye!', or whether they seem up for a convo, and finally, like letting someone know you are interested in them, you have to do your research and mention something they care about: if they are tweeting about a news scandal, add your twopenn'orth, or if they seem lonely or sad or proud of their ugly baby or excited about their new ugly shoes, let them know how much you support them! Or if you are starting cold (a brave, riskier but more satisfying method) and want to get them to check their interactions and get back to you (eventually), then a browse of IMDB or Wikipedia of their projects will give you something to discuss.

I am also super-respectful; if they don't tweet back, don't bombard them - rude. Don't assume you know them; call them Mr or Miss - they aren't your pals...yet. Hint: married ladies may want to be known as Mrs Y even though they are Miss X in all publicity/work stuff, this is tricky, you want to acknowledge their marital status (especially if it is new) but also recognise that they are there own independent person who you knew before they became a wife. I always go for Miss X - personal preference and it seems to work. Note of caution: if they call themselves Ms. then you'd better use it e.g. @MsKathyBates - If they've bothered to state it in their Twitter name or handle, then use their choice.

Ooh, and it doesn't hurt to show appreciation, when I've had a good day with several (new) celeb responses, I tweet a big thank you about them giving their time to fans; these are busy people (aren't we all...?) and they needn't invest themselves in these conversations, but they do. I assume they enjoy it too, or they think it will eventually get them the role of their dreams, but at the very least they are taking time away from themselves/their families which must be precious when so much of that is forcefully exposed for public consumption.

This really is a fantastic way of getting to know the film arts better. If you build a rapport and don't freak anyone out, you could get a few stellar tips from Hollywood's greats. I don't want to be in showbusiness, but the workings of it fascinate me. If these connections could possibly one day maybe get me more information on how it all comes together to make the magic, then this will be time well spent. Alternatively, this could be the best international, lolling-in-your-pyjamas, sport-fishing competition ever. Find a rare one, tantalise them with bait and then hook 'em.

Go on, have a try, see if you can get a bite!

Gotta catch 'em all!

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