7 Jul - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince premiere

July 7th, 2009

Because this is a publicly viewable website, I have to be kind of restrained here.... but I have to ask: what kind of company has a three and a half hour long team meeting finishing at 5:30pm in an offsite industrial park one and a half hours south of London, scheduled to finish a mere half an hour before the biggest premiere of the YEAR, when this is clearly devastating for me, personally? The anwer : the one I (used to, at the time) work for! So I'd basically written off the whole premiere because these meetings NEVER finish on time, even though you could almost watch a Lord of the Rings movie-plus-fifteen-minute-fan-club-credits in the time they run for.

Incredibly, however, the meeting finished 15mins early. And I got a train that left 30mins earlier... and sat in the train for over 1hour running scenarios. Would the premiere start later than planned? Would it go longer than usual? Would there somehow be a vantagepoint I could take advantage of?

Well, the premiere officially started at 6:00pm. And I arrived onsite at 6:50pm. Here's how it went down.

It was reported that about 50 fans camped overnight in Leicester Square for this premiere. I took this photo when I walked past at 7:30am, and there were already several hundred people in two separate parts of Leicester Square! (And here I was, heading OUT of London for a team meeting)

It was reported that about 50 fans camped overnight in Leicester Square for this premiere. I took this photo when I walked past at 7:30am, and there were already several hundred people in two separate parts of Leicester Square! (And here I was, heading OUT of London for a team meeting)

And then, arriving almost half an hour after the event had started, I found myself a spot outside the main parts that had a point of elevation higher than most...

I'd made it to what would be the biggest premiere of the year, without question. And even if you're of the school that thinks JK Rowing' s work is sacriligeous and objectionable, you still benefitted from the premiere:  there were some nice cafes nearby with far less than the usual number of customers.

I'd made it to what would be the biggest premiere of the year, without question. And even if you're of the school that thinks JK Rowing' s work is sacriligeous and objectionable, you still benefitted from the premiere:  there were some nice cafes nearby with far less than the usual number of customers.

"Mike, even I camped out for this premiere just in case I missed me" Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter in the series. Although I was kind of livid at missing the start of this premiere and any chance of getting into a fan pen, I did miss one of the heaviest rainstorms London has ever seen while I was outside near Hook an hour and a half away. Not saying I'd rather have not been in Leicester Square, mind you.

"Mike, even I camped out for this premiere just in case I missed me" Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter in the series. Although I was kind of livid at missing the start of this premiere and any chance of getting into a fan pen, I did miss one of the heaviest rainstorms London has ever seen while I was outside near Hook an hour and a half away. Not saying I'd rather have not been in Leicester Square, mind you.

My advantage at this premiere - elevation, mobility, a decent camera, a decent zoom. And desperation. Never underestimate the motivational power of really wanting something, no matter how trivial or transient (or right in front of you)

My advantage at this premiere - elevation, mobility, a decent camera, a decent zoom. And desperation. Never underestimate the motivational power of really wanting something, no matter how trivial or transient (or right in front of you)

Incidentally, this premiere took up the entire centre of Leicester Square - that's fans and press and stages and decorations, and this then had two footbridges leading out of the square to TWO SEPARATE CINEMAS diagonally across from each other, each with additional fan pens leading to each. That's unprecedent among premieres I've attended. Incredibly, my spot gives me a partial view of BOTH footbridgs. All I need to hope is that not too many of the stars have gone inside yet... and that they maybe face my way.

 And here's a Big One - It's Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the film(s). He's apparently had Swine Flu recently, but appears to be okay now. (Or, you know, highly contagious.)

 And here's a Big One - It's Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the film(s). He's apparently had Swine Flu recently, but appears to be okay now. (Or, you know, highly contagious.)

The figure at the centre of this photo is Helena Bonham-Carter, who plays Bellatrix Lestrange. No, really. She's wearing pink and a hat. (You and I have hopefully built up some rapport by now, so I'm hoping you'll take it on trust that it is)

The figure at the centre of this photo is Helena Bonham-Carter, who plays Bellatrix Lestrange. No, really. She's wearing pink and a hat. (You and I have hopefully built up some rapport by now, so I'm hoping you'll take it on trust that it is)

In the far distance: actor Daniel Radcliffe (aka. Harry Potter). You know, I've read 'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. And, sure, I was wrong about the horcrux, and I was with others who incorrectly suspected that the mysterious 'R.A.B.' was Mrs Figg. But I'll probably watch the movie anyway (I can't believe how much that comment has dated in the intervening years)

In the far distance: actor Daniel Radcliffe (aka. Harry Potter). You know, I've read 'Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. And, sure, I was wrong about the horcrux, and I was with others who incorrectly suspected that the mysterious 'R.A.B.' was Mrs Figg. But I'll probably watch the movie anyway (I can't believe how much that comment has dated in the intervening years)

So at this point I've photographed Ron Weasley, someone who's definitely Bellatrix Lestrange, and mainly the back of Harry Potter himself. I'm not saying it's been a great day, even under the circumstances, yet. But... you know... this could have been worse. Like.. the team meeting could have gone on as long as a Michael MANN film. Still... we continue, and I've decided to shift position because that far footbridge looks like it's dispense its last star.

Here's my new perspective, about 120-degrees shifted counter-clockwise and maybe 20m south. And a quick Yellow Cap Guy status update, because I know you're interested. And it is this : Uncertain. I saw a flash of yellow at one point but then with the thousands and thousands of people at this premiere, several people could plausibly have been wearing a yellow cap. And been a guy. But not been THE Yellow Cap Guy.

Here's my new perspective, about 120-degrees shifted counter-clockwise and maybe 20m south. And a quick Yellow Cap Guy status update, because I know you're interested. And it is this : Uncertain. I saw a flash of yellow at one point but then with the thousands and thousands of people at this premiere, several people could plausibly have been wearing a yellow cap. And been a guy. But not been THE Yellow Cap Guy.

My new spot appears to have been the best decision I made since I elected not to hug, high-five or share parting canapes and champagne at the offsite team meeting and instead rushed to Leicester Square (well... I say best in a "clearly not for my career progression"). Because this? Is J.K.Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. She's worth a couple of billion dollars. Or pounds. (I don't think the distinction is meaningful after you get to a certain level of wealth)

My new spot appears to have been the best decision I made since I elected not to hug, high-five or share parting canapes and champagne at the offsite team meeting and instead rushed to Leicester Square (well... I say best in a "clearly not for my career progression"). Because this? Is J.K.Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books. She's worth a couple of billion dollars. Or pounds. (I don't think the distinction is meaningful after you get to a certain level of wealth)

J.K.Rowling (again). This shot was taken about 1/3 of a second after the one above. Although my vantagepoint was enviable, the period of time I had to take each of these series of shots was kind of split-second. Yay, three-frames per second shuter speeds!

J.K.Rowling (again). This shot was taken about 1/3 of a second after the one above. Although my vantagepoint was enviable, the period of time I had to take each of these series of shots was kind of split-second. Yay, three-frames per second shuter speeds!

It's Emma Watson!! And I have just managed the staggering coup of photographing 2.65 of the biggest stars of the film (and Helena Bonham-Carter, probably) AND JK Rowling, despite arriving at the event 50minutes after the official starting point. That's almost but not like getting to a Space Shuttle launch 25 minutes late and still making it to the International Space Station somehow pretty much on time. Also... Emma Watson? Pretty.

It's Emma Watson!! And I have just managed the staggering coup of photographing 2.65 of the biggest stars of the film (and Helena Bonham-Carter, probably) AND JK Rowling, despite arriving at the event 50minutes after the official starting point. That's almost but not like getting to a Space Shuttle launch 25 minutes late and still making it to the International Space Station somehow pretty much on time. Also... Emma Watson? Pretty.

Emma Watson is Hermione Granger in the film. Several friends made the prediction that she'd be gorgeous when she grew up, even when looking at the movie poster for the first film - released eight years ago -  and she was... what... ten?! I didn't make that call back then, but I'm more convinced now

Emma Watson is Hermione Granger in the film. Several friends made the prediction that she'd be gorgeous when she grew up, even when looking at the movie poster for the first film - released eight years ago -  and she was... what... ten?! I didn't make that call back then, but I'm more convinced now

Emma Watson displays the easy and effortless confidence of somebody who knows that, as long as she doesn't go all Crispin Glover from Back to the Future sequels and pronounces herself indispensable to the franchise, there are at least two very large paychecks left to get in this movie series

Emma Watson displays the easy and effortless confidence of somebody who knows that, as long as she doesn't go all Crispin Glover from Back to the Future sequels and pronounces herself indispensable to the franchise, there are at least two very large paychecks left to get in this movie series

OMG it's Frodo!! I mean.. the front of Harry Potter!! I've done it!! I've photographed all of the big four!! (Mr Filch and the dude who provides the voice of Dobby the House Elf would be great of course, but this is pretty awesome for my first ever Harry Potter premiere)

OMG it's Frodo!! I mean.. the front of Harry Potter!! I've done it!! I've photographed all of the big four!! (Mr Filch and the dude who provides the voice of Dobby the House Elf would be great of course, but this is pretty awesome for my first ever Harry Potter premiere)

A premiere wouldn't be complete without people holding aloft giant posters and risking the wrath of people who just want to see the stars and not the back of a piece of cardboard after queueing for hours in the rain. I'm thin and weak myself, but I know I would be 'displeased'.

A premiere wouldn't be complete without people holding aloft giant posters and risking the wrath of people who just want to see the stars and not the back of a piece of cardboard after queueing for hours in the rain. I'm thin and weak myself, but I know I would be 'displeased'.

Weirdly and conveniently, Rupert Grint returns to THIS cinema thus allowing me a chance to photograph him at closer range, and also he's Ron Weasley and that Spiders want him to tap-dance and he doesn't wanna tap-dance.... You tell those spiders, Ron..

Weirdly and conveniently, Rupert Grint returns to THIS cinema thus allowing me a chance to photograph him at closer range, and also he's Ron Weasley and that Spiders want him to tap-dance and he doesn't wanna tap-dance....
You tell those spiders, Ron..

"Harry and Hermione, Hermione and Ron, Hermione and Victor Krum, Ron and his skank girl, Harry and Cho...It's not so much a love-triangle as more a love-rhombus or love icosahedron" The plot in this film is meant to be even more complex, to better illustrate the complexities of a more 'adult' teen love. Really? Most of my adult and teen love experiences have swayed between "single" and "not quite single" and "single between bouts of also being single"

"Harry and Hermione, Hermione and Ron, Hermione and Victor Krum, Ron and his skank girl, Harry and Cho...It's not so much a love-triangle as more a love-rhombus or love icosahedron" The plot in this film is meant to be even more complex, to better illustrate the complexities of a more 'adult' teen love. Really? Most of my adult and teen love experiences have swayed between "single" and "not quite single" and "single between bouts of also being single"

The mass of people might be difficult to understand if you're not a fan, but additionally the weird thing is that these people had a 2metre fence preventing decent views of what was going on. And yet, here they were anyway. I guess it's all about the vibe. Fortunately, I'm here for the photography AND the vibe AND I'm getting both (woo for me!)

The mass of people might be difficult to understand if you're not a fan, but additionally the weird thing is that these people had a 2metre fence preventing decent views of what was going on. And yet, here they were anyway. I guess it's all about the vibe. Fortunately, I'm here for the photography AND the vibe AND I'm getting both (woo for me!)

And with that bit of self-celebration, it really was all over bar the cleanup...

A lot of people had unusually soggy posters and posterboards they took home with them from this premiere, because it apparently bucketed down with rain just as the stars arrived as well as several times before. And you just can't buy that kind of loyalty. (But as Warner Bros will testify, you can certainly profit from it).

A lot of people had unusually soggy posters and posterboards they took home with them from this premiere, because it apparently bucketed down with rain just as the stars arrived as well as several times before. And you just can't buy that kind of loyalty. (But as Warner Bros will testify, you can certainly profit from it).

Park Statue says: "Only one more Harry Potter move and then this madness stops. ... No, wait. What do you mean 'they're splitting the last book into two films'???"

Park Statue says: "Only one more Harry Potter move and then this madness stops. ... No, wait. What do you mean 'they're splitting the last book into two films'???"

So... that was that. And let's not dwell on me not getting photos of Dumbledore, McGonnagall, Snape, Draco... and the rest. Given the size and scope of this premiere, and my time of arrival, and even the nasty things I'd said about my camera at the Transformers II premiere, this one did get me some stuff, and it'll find its way into my Archive of Premieres..

... and wouldn't you know it, the next work-related team event is on the same day as the premiere for the new Quentin Tarantino film, and it's also located outside of London. REALLY?

Argh.

Until then, then.

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