The Safety Not Guaranteed red carpet promised a lot of talented actors, as well as a director and writer that I admire for their concept and ability to bring together an amazing cast, so this was a big deal for me. Never having been on a red carpet before, I assumed that it would be what you see on TV, tons of reporters and photographers jockeying for position, elbowing one another out of the way for the chance at even just a photo opportunity.
What actually happened was that we (myself and other reporters/photographers) were lined up along the carpet with our affiliate name taped to a divider placed in front of us. This solidified our spot in line for interviews. This was great, except that I hadn’t really expected to be able to talk to anyone, much less everyone! I mentally ran through my questions as the actors worked their way down the red carpet. Fellow writer Casey Carroll joined me and manned my camera which hasn’t really ever been put to this kind of test and after reviewing it’s performance, the camera has since been replaced. We went back and forth over whether to just take still shots or use the video feature and opted for video in the end. Again, not the best quality video, but video just the same. This was guerilla journalism and we were working with what we had.
I kept trying to focus and not get distracted by all the flashes and other questions being fired around me and started freaking out a bit as Jake Johnson got closer and closer. Then, he was in front of me. I ramblingly asked what it was like working with Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Karan Soni, and if they had known one another before or if they had ever worked together in the past. Yes, I blew all three of my questions at one time. Jake was very gracious and put me a little more at ease. I was very aware that the staff that was running the red carpet and trying to keep it moving so I let Jake move on to the next reporter a little prematurely. After that I kept it together pretty well.
Once the first actor came by they just kept coming and didn’t give me much time to be nervous. And then Mark Duplass was in front of me I kind of lost my cool. Actually, there was no kind of about it, I suddenly couldn’t remember anything I was going to ask him and was mortified by my lame attempt at recovery. See, here’s the difference between myself and some of the others that were there for the red carpet; I was a true fan of all of these people, whereas a lot of people there were strictly journalists and had no interest in the film or anyone associated with it. In other words, it was just a story they had to cover. I spoke to one woman while we were waiting who didn’t know what she was there for, who would be there and really didn’t care. I geeked out and told her everything I knew about the film as well as all the talent that was attending. Her questions were handed to her when her camera guy got there and she did her thing. In my case, once I knew who would be there I couldn’t wait to talk to them, but also couldn’t believe I was getting the opportunity to do so. That was especially true of Mark. Meeting the actors was wonderful, especially the ones associated with this film as they are amazingly talented and creative, but talking to another writer who I admire immensely was much more intimidating to me.
So, I stood there staring at Mark Duplass trying to force my brain into some semblance of functionality and started fumbling for words as if they were a football dipped in popcorn butter. I mentioned my husband, how the movie was about time travel and landed on asking Mark Duplass how he feels about time travel. Really? After his initial weirded-outness at the question itself, he was kind enough to answer. Then, since I had time for a follow up, it got so much worse. I asked the most cliched of all time travel cliche questions, “Who from the past would you like to speak to if you could travel back in time?”. This whole time all I could think was that I wanted to apologize to him for asking him possibly the lamest question I could have asked. I did have a moment of relief when he answered me with possibly the best answer to my worst question. See below for his answer.
Honestly, after Mark I was fine as I figured it couldn’t get any worse. When Aubrey stopped it was like I was talking to a friend and I wanted to walk under the rope and go sit with her while we watched the film. Karan Soni was just as nervous as I was and was really excited to be there. Talking to Colin Trevorrow and discovering that the part of Darius was written for Aubrey Plaza was very rewarding. I enjoyed hearing from Derek Connolly on how this idea became a screenplay, learning about his thought process and what led him to create this film, which sounded like rants I go on in my own head all the time.
And then it was over, the remaining talent was being whisked away to the theater to start the film and Casey and I rushed inside to find a seat. Though I didn’t spend much time with them, I appreciate the cast, director and writer’s graciousness and candidness, as well as their kindness to a girl who had no idea what she was doing. I think I managed pretty well for a first time, and I am ready for the next time.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @CatEdison and look for more stories from SXSW 2012!