Stealing the Spotlight

Stealing the Spotlight

Last night I was chatting with a friend and I remembered a story from several years back now. Of the many jobs that I’ve had over the years, one of my favourites was working as a movie buyer for a small independent movie store chain. The buyer is responsible for knowing what’s in demand, what’s coming out, where to get harder to find movies, etc. and procures them for the store. They stock the shelves with the product that will hopefully help the store succeed.

One of the perks of the job was that movie studios would often treat the buyers to screeners, screenings, and sometimes even a premiere or gala event. They want stores to stock their films, so they do their best to woo them.

One such time, I was invited to the opening night gala of TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) to see the new Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany film, Creation. I had been to screenings and the odd Toronto version of a premiere but never a gala at a film festival. I had no idea what to expect, and I was both excited and nervous.

My seats were in a prime area – a closed off mezzanine and I was right up front. The audience was treated to an intro and brief Q&A by the cast and crew, including Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany. I’m a big fan of The Rocketeer and A Knight’s Tale so both actors were a big deal to me. And I know those are probably not the films that people immediately equate them to, but they’re up there for me, so…

I was riding a high from being in the same room with these amazing people as the film started and the room darkened. I don’t remember much about the film (it was honestly very boring) but part way through, I heard some folks come in late to the film and take their seats beside me. I remember the sound of the latecomers heavy jewelry as it clanged against the railing leading down to their seats. I had never been to a gala but I rolled my eyes like, “Pfft, these latecomers…NO RESPECT FOR CINEMA!” and carried on with watching the film.

Several hours later (okay the film was only like, 1hr48mins long but it felt like a long ass time…) the film came to an end, and although it wasn’t my favourite film, it was special to me. It was my first gala and that left its imprint on me.

As the credits started to roll, I didn’t know what the protocol was. This was pre-Marvel movies teaching us to stay through the credits, and I didn’t know what to do. Did I get up and leave? Did I stay to the very end to acknowledge the hard work of all the cast and crew? (when I write it like that, the choice seems obvious but it wasn’t at the time…)

Finally, I decided to get up. The movie was OKAY but it was time to head home. As I stand up, a spotlight comes on…and I’m in it.

IS THIS WHAT THEY DO TO PEOPLE WHO LEAVE THE THEATRE EARLY? Are they meant to DIE IN SHAME as countless people look upon the face of someone disrespecting the END CREDITS?????

I am in full-on panic mode as the rest of the audience turns to look towards the spotlight and begins applauding. I turn to my right as Jennifer Connelly, and Paul Bettany stand up to graciously accept the applause and bask in the spotlight.

…the spotlight that I am still currently standing in with them.

My face is now a deep red and I am mortified, and I do the only thing possible in the scenario and try to play it cool as I promptly sit back down in my seat and try to act like it never happened.

And that’s the time that I literally stole the spotlight from Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany.