12 Dec - The 'Star Wars : The Last Jedi' European Premiere

December 12th, 2017.

And so, for the last time this year I'm off to photograph a premiere. And unlike two years ago, when I was in Tokyo while the premiere for The Force Awakens' was in London; and unlike two years ago, when the premiere of Rogue One : A Star Wars story destroyed much of the last remnants of any goodwill I might have had for both my Pentax K3 and the Disney Company and its "we don't need no stinkin' premieres, but we're flying out the stars and booking out a venue and inviting select fans, but no you can't come" promotion strategy....

Remarkably, it seems I'm in London for The Last Jedi. And that movie is having a premiere. A real one, I mean. And here's how it went down:

T-Minus 32 hours. If rumours I'd heard at Leicester Square (while they were handing out wristbands for 'Darkest Hour') were true, there might just be a way of getting a wristband for the premiere a day before the official "8am tomorrow" handout time...

T-Minus 32 hours. If rumours I'd heard at Leicester Square (while they were handing out wristbands for 'Darkest Hour') were true, there might just be a way of getting a wristband for the premiere a day before the official "8am tomorrow" handout time...

T-Minus something like 26 hours... and it seems my plan to get into this premiere has worked. And thus even in spite of having publicly called 'The Force Awakens'  "a work of craft and calculation but not art or love", which I totally stand by because it's 99% true, I've got a wristband for tomorrow's premiere one day early! (and no, the watch is NOT for sale)

T-Minus something like 26 hours... and it seems my plan to get into this premiere has worked. And thus even in spite of having publicly called 'The Force Awakens'  "a work of craft and calculation but not art or love", which I totally stand by because it's 99% true, I've got a wristband for tomorrow's premiere one day early!

(and no, the watch is NOT for sale)

And then, one day later...

T-Minus something like 5hours. We were told to be 'back by 1pm' at the Royal Albert Hall, presumably mainly so that security could laugh at us while we waited for 2 further hours before they opened the pens.

T-Minus something like 5hours. We were told to be 'back by 1pm' at the Royal Albert Hall, presumably mainly so that security could laugh at us while we waited for 2 further hours before they opened the pens.

T-minus something like 4 hours. There is a queue. I'm 82nd in line, but I'm given to understand the organisers gave out some 600 wristbands. Which is to say: many of those people are invariably going to be bigger Star Wars fans than I am, and I will be standing between them and whoever they desperately want an autograph from, selfie with, or desperately propose marriage to.

T-minus something like 4 hours. There is a queue. I'm 82nd in line, but I'm given to understand the organisers gave out some 600 wristbands. Which is to say: many of those people are invariably going to be bigger Star Wars fans than I am, and I will be standing between them and whoever they desperately want an autograph from, selfie with, or desperately propose marriage to.

After some rapid (and security-sanctioned) pen-shuffling I have my spot : it appears to be right next to be bleachers reserved for rows of press photographers, which is good. The stairs are set to be filled with fan club members, and the stage is so distant it's not in sight, which is not quite as good... but I will concede that fan club members should have decent spots.

After some rapid (and security-sanctioned) pen-shuffling I have my spot : it appears to be right next to be bleachers reserved for rows of press photographers, which is good. The stairs are set to be filled with fan club members, and the stage is so distant it's not in sight, which is not quite as good... but I will concede that fan club members should have decent spots.

"Tom, I'm standing here at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with only large riot barriers between me and rabid Star Wars fans. In other words, I'm scared....."

"Tom, I'm standing here at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with only large riot barriers between me and rabid Star Wars fans. In other words, I'm scared....."

I'm not exactly the biggest Star Wars fan anymore. For example, if (say) they kill off Luke Skywalker in this film (or the next) it will feel to me more like a calculated move of corporate strategy and synergy than something representing an author's truest belief in an over-arching story requirement. For Disney (uh.. I mean "Lucasfilm") I get the feeling it's about button pushing for audience effect.

I'm not exactly the biggest Star Wars fan anymore. For example, if (say) they kill off Luke Skywalker in this film (or the next) it will feel to me more like a calculated move of corporate strategy and synergy than something representing an author's truest belief in an over-arching story requirement. For Disney (uh.. I mean "Lucasfilm") I get the feeling it's about button pushing for audience effect.

"Somebody over there shouted out 'Yo-Yo-Yo...da' and I want you to either pay them for the copyright on that or have them permanently silenced. Can you do that for me?" Your good friend and mine, fresh from yesterday's exertions at the premiere of 'Darkest Hour', Hakeem Mr Impact and DJ DMCA Takedown Notice were the warmup act that this premiere.

"Somebody over there shouted out 'Yo-Yo-Yo...da' and I want you to either pay them for the copyright on that or have them permanently silenced. Can you do that for me?" Your good friend and mine, fresh from yesterday's exertions at the premiere of 'Darkest Hour', Hakeem Mr Impact and DJ DMCA Takedown Notice were the warmup act that this premiere.

"Why is he holding up a shoe in that last picture... do we know?" - performing on-stage and on-carpet interview duties at this event were Edith Bowman (right) and (I'm pretty sure I heard this correctly) "Anna Matronic" (left)

"Why is he holding up a shoe in that last picture... do we know?" - performing on-stage and on-carpet interview duties at this event were Edith Bowman (right) and (I'm pretty sure I heard this correctly) "Anna Matronic" (left)

It's a pretty big Front Page Of The List. I also spied George Lucas, JJ Abrams and Frank Oz on it, but appearance on The List doesn't necessarily guarantee attendance if you're not connected to the film.

It's a pretty big Front Page Of The List. I also spied George Lucas, JJ Abrams and Frank Oz on it, but appearance on The List doesn't necessarily guarantee attendance if you're not connected to the film.

Wookiee high fives. I hear they're still one of the top ten causes of death on Kashyyyk.

Wookiee high fives. I hear they're still one of the top ten causes of death on Kashyyyk.

"I... probably don't need to see your identification". It seems the event has started. And we're possibly all about to be press-ganged into the First Order.

"I... probably don't need to see your identification". It seems the event has started. And we're possibly all about to be press-ganged into the First Order.

"Is it okay if we film you? We can stop if you like.". With the arrival of whatever the First Order is calling Stormtroopers<tm> these days, the rap and dance beatz of Mr Impact have been replaced with the more awesome sounds of John Williams' scores to the various movies in the saga.

"Is it okay if we film you? We can stop if you like.". With the arrival of whatever the First Order is calling Stormtroopers<tm> these days, the rap and dance beatz of Mr Impact have been replaced with the more awesome sounds of John Williams' scores to the various movies in the saga.

"Artoo says the odds of this movie grossing less than Justic League globally is over 1138 to 1 against." Disney will personally pay people to buy tickets to make sure that doesn't happen, but let's be honest they won't have to.

"Artoo says the odds of this movie grossing less than Justic League globally is over 1138 to 1 against." Disney will personally pay people to buy tickets to make sure that doesn't happen, but let's be honest they won't have to.

It's BB-8 ! He didn't pose for selfies or sign a single autograph for fans. But then again, he's short and doesn't have arms...

It's BB-8 ! He didn't pose for selfies or sign a single autograph for fans. But then again, he's short and doesn't have arms...

"He can roll over some ink leave tread marks all over your posters if you ask nicely"

"He can roll over some ink leave tread marks all over your posters if you ask nicely"

"General Hux doesn't sign autographs. Instead, he shouts at people at length to explain why he can't sign autographs, and I don't want to do that either..." - unlike his character, Domhnall Gleeson seems to be quite nice and unpsychotic.

"General Hux doesn't sign autographs. Instead, he shouts at people at length to explain why he can't sign autographs, and I don't want to do that either..." - unlike his character, Domhnall Gleeson seems to be quite nice and unpsychotic.

"You should totally watch 'Goodbye Christopher Robin'.It's not even a Disney movie!!" I was at the premiere of that film, and will probably try to get around to it eventually.

"You should totally watch 'Goodbye Christopher Robin'.It's not even a Disney movie!!" I was at the premiere of that film, and will probably try to get around to it eventually.

I know only that Jimmy Vee was in (and at the premiere of) the movie 'Pan'. I also surmise he's in this film, but that's based mainly on circumstantial evidence (like people giving him Star Wars stuff to sign).

I know only that Jimmy Vee was in (and at the premiere of) the movie 'Pan'. I also surmise he's in this film, but that's based mainly on circumstantial evidence (like people giving him Star Wars stuff to sign).

Rian Johnson is the director of this film, as well as the rather good 'Looper' and the less-appreciated but still interesting/enjoyable movie 'Brick'. He's also been announced as the director for the *NEXT* Star Wars trilogy Marvel - I mean Disney - I mean Lucasfilm is already planning.

Rian Johnson is the director of this film, as well as the rather good 'Looper' and the less-appreciated but still interesting/enjoyable movie 'Brick'. He's also been announced as the director for the *NEXT* Star Wars trilogy Marvel - I mean Disney - I mean Lucasfilm is already planning.

"I just really wanna take a selfie with Mark Hamill... but discreetly. Don't tell him, please"

"I just really wanna take a selfie with Mark Hamill... but discreetly. Don't tell him, please"

It's Mark Hamill! He plays Luke Skywalker in the film, and I've previously photographed him at the premieres of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers Age of Ultron (I think?) as well as this year's GQ Awards. But this is he first time I've photographed him at a Star Wars premiere.

It's Mark Hamill! He plays Luke Skywalker in the film, and I've previously photographed him at the premieres of Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers Age of Ultron (I think?) as well as this year's GQ Awards. But this is he first time I've photographed him at a Star Wars premiere.

I've never wanted a dude with a red beanie to be bending down lower more than I do right now. Of course, I'd also prefer he was elsewhere entirely. Not, like, Hell or somewhere. It can be somewhere warm and sunny too.

I've never wanted a dude with a red beanie to be bending down lower more than I do right now. Of course, I'd also prefer he was elsewhere entirely. Not, like, Hell or somewhere. It can be somewhere warm and sunny too.

The challenge of getting eye-contact with Mark Hamill continues to dominate my activities, but to be fair it's also beneficially distracting me from the cold. I'm quite layered up (thanks for asking!) but it's still only abuot 2 to 3 degrees celsius in London this evening.

The challenge of getting eye-contact with Mark Hamill continues to dominate my activities, but to be fair it's also beneficially distracting me from the cold. I'm quite layered up (thanks for asking!) but it's still only abuot 2 to 3 degrees celsius in London this evening.

Joonas Suotamo is (the new?) Chewbacca in the film - it's hard to say whether, if I had his height, I would pursue a career in acting, or basketball, or whether I'd just be freaking overjoyed at the height advantage I'd have taking photographs at premieres...

Joonas Suotamo is (the new?) Chewbacca in the film - it's hard to say whether, if I had his height, I would pursue a career in acting, or basketball, or whether I'd just be freaking overjoyed at the height advantage I'd have taking photographs at premieres...

There are a lot of beanies between me and Anthony Daniels (who plays C3PO in the film). Fortunately I've photographed him before - at last year's Empire Awards, also attended by Daisy Ridley.

There are a lot of beanies between me and Anthony Daniels (who plays C3PO in the film). Fortunately I've photographed him before - at last year's Empire Awards, also attended by Daisy Ridley.

"I don't know who you are, but your hair is pretty great" Meanwhile, I'm mildly freaked by that shadow in the background, as I have no idea who could be causing it.

"I don't know who you are, but your hair is pretty great" Meanwhile, I'm mildly freaked by that shadow in the background, as I have no idea who could be causing it.

"Please don't distract me. I'm preparing to get into character as 'Benicio Del Toro at a Premiere' and it's going to take me a few minutes"

"Please don't distract me. I'm preparing to get into character as 'Benicio Del Toro at a Premiere' and it's going to take me a few minutes"

Benicio del Toro is in this movie, and plays a character called "DJ". So... good news for anyone in the music industry who lays down tracks in nightclubs : Disney's lawyers are about to sue all of you for retrospective copyright infringement.

Benicio del Toro is in this movie, and plays a character called "DJ". So... good news for anyone in the music industry who lays down tracks in nightclubs : Disney's lawyers are about to sue all of you for retrospective copyright infringement.

"What if I brought a whole bunch of photos and asked you to sign them. Would you do that?" - Daisy Ridley is certainly appropriately dressed for this premiere, and the phalanx of attendants surrounding her probably block much of the chilly breeze, too.

"What if I brought a whole bunch of photos and asked you to sign them. Would you do that?" - Daisy Ridley is certainly appropriately dressed for this premiere, and the phalanx of attendants surrounding her probably block much of the chilly breeze, too.

"I'm giving you 5 seconds to photograph me in this dress, then I'm putting my jacket back on. I know your cameras all do more than 10 frames per second so it should be more than enough time"

"I'm giving you 5 seconds to photograph me in this dress, then I'm putting my jacket back on. I know your cameras all do more than 10 frames per second so it should be more than enough time"

My lack of esteem for The Force Awakens might have just cost me dearly. On the plus side, I was apparently one of the few people not rioting over how allegedly bad 'Murder on the Orient Express (2017)' was.

My lack of esteem for The Force Awakens might have just cost me dearly. On the plus side, I was apparently one of the few people not rioting over how allegedly bad 'Murder on the Orient Express (2017)' was.

<man on far left> "I can look in the same direction, but how do I get myself looking as intense as Daisy?"

<man on far left> "I can look in the same direction, but how do I get myself looking as intense as Daisy?"

Andy Serkis plays some kind of CGI monstrosity in this film, or so I presume, given his characters never wear tuxedoes in films (though I haven't watched the last of the Planet of the Apes films, so I don't know if Caesar wears a tux at the end of that)

Andy Serkis plays some kind of CGI monstrosity in this film, or so I presume, given his characters never wear tuxedoes in films (though I haven't watched the last of the Planet of the Apes films, so I don't know if Caesar wears a tux at the end of that)

"No, but I can motion capture myself autographing that, and send you the animatics file?" - I last photographed Andy Serkis at the BFI London Film Festival opening gala of 'Breathe' which he directed.

"No, but I can motion capture myself autographing that, and send you the animatics file?" - I last photographed Andy Serkis at the BFI London Film Festival opening gala of 'Breathe' which he directed.

"When I start my own pan-galactic organisation of terror and fear, the dress I'm wearing will be our official uniform!" Kelly Marie Tran is in this movie... and in MY pan-galactic organisation of terror and fear, anyone who walks while staring at or texting on their phone will be allowed to be shoulder-charged at full force and they must then apologise to the person who shoulder-charged them.

"When I start my own pan-galactic organisation of terror and fear, the dress I'm wearing will be our official uniform!" Kelly Marie Tran is in this movie... and in MY pan-galactic organisation of terror and fear, anyone who walks while staring at or texting on their phone will be allowed to be shoulder-charged at full force and they must then apologise to the person who shoulder-charged them.

"I might steal that shoulder-charge policy and use it in my platform to get elected. Before I abolish elections, I mean."

"I might steal that shoulder-charge policy and use it in my platform to get elected. Before I abolish elections, I mean."

It's FRANK OZ!! He was the voice of Yoda in the Star Wars original and prequel trilogies, as well as the voice of Miss Piggy, Grover, Fozzie Bear and Cookie Monster in The Muppet Show / Sesame Street.

It's FRANK OZ!! He was the voice of Yoda in the Star Wars original and prequel trilogies, as well as the voice of Miss Piggy, Grover, Fozzie Bear and Cookie Monster in The Muppet Show / Sesame Street.

"Grateful for your gratitude I am. Hope you recorded that, you did. For speak like this any further I will not"

"Grateful for your gratitude I am. Hope you recorded that, you did. For speak like this any further I will not"

It's Laura Dern! She's arguably best known for being Dr Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park (1993) but she's also in this movie. She and several stars talked about how Star Wars is progressive in its diverse cast and strong female roles.... but you know what? I think I liked Star Wars slightly better when it was more about story and less about an agenda.

It's Laura Dern! She's arguably best known for being Dr Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park (1993) but she's also in this movie. She and several stars talked about how Star Wars is progressive in its diverse cast and strong female roles.... but you know what? I think I liked Star Wars slightly better when it was more about story and less about an agenda.

"It's a Rancor! Behind you! Oh wait... no... just more autograph dealers. Good luck with those. Their vision is based on dollar signs, not movement"

"It's a Rancor! Behind you! Oh wait... no... just more autograph dealers. Good luck with those. Their vision is based on dollar signs, not movement"

John Boyega was by far and away the most cheerful star on the red carpet.

John Boyega was by far and away the most cheerful star on the red carpet.

"I pay that dude behind me to shine a halo of backlighting behind me everywhere I go. Best money I ever spent!"

"I pay that dude behind me to shine a halo of backlighting behind me everywhere I go. Best money I ever spent!"

"Aren't you a little... uh... TALL for a stormtrooper?"

"Aren't you a little... uh... TALL for a stormtrooper?"

My Nikon D4 rarely takes more than 3 shots to hit focus. Unfortunately this was the second shot of Adam Driver. One shot later and he was behind the mob of photographers, and by the time he passed those without stopping he was already side-on, looking like he maybe wanted to punch a Porg in the face. And I won't condemn  a man for disliking Star Wars : you go, Adam Driver!

My Nikon D4 rarely takes more than 3 shots to hit focus. Unfortunately this was the second shot of Adam Driver. One shot later and he was behind the mob of photographers, and by the time he passed those without stopping he was already side-on, looking like he maybe wanted to punch a Porg in the face. And I won't condemn  a man for disliking Star Wars : you go, Adam Driver!

Photo of Laura Dern at a distance gives me hope that perhaps I can photograph Adam Driver at a distance too, but other than being interviewed on stage I saw no further sign of him on the evening. My guess : he likes Star Wars about as much as I do, but isn't as comfortable with it. Fortunately I've photographed him this year, at the premiere of "Logan Lucky"

Photo of Laura Dern at a distance gives me hope that perhaps I can photograph Adam Driver at a distance too, but other than being interviewed on stage I saw no further sign of him on the evening. My guess : he likes Star Wars about as much as I do, but isn't as comfortable with it. Fortunately I've photographed him this year, at the premiere of "Logan Lucky"

"Boy, I remember when this poster only had one signature and I wasn't obsessed with getting everyone's autograph.... "

"Boy, I remember when this poster only had one signature and I wasn't obsessed with getting everyone's autograph.... "

Gwendoline Christie plays the ludicrously shiny Captain Phasma in the movie. Apparently she's even shinier in this movie than the last one, so I'll make sure to bring sunglasses into the auditorium (or my iphone screen) when I watch the film eventually.

Gwendoline Christie plays the ludicrously shiny Captain Phasma in the movie. Apparently she's even shinier in this movie than the last one, so I'll make sure to bring sunglasses into the auditorium (or my iphone screen) when I watch the film eventually.

Me : "I.... like you in Game of Thrones, though!" - Gwendoline Christie is Brienne of Tarth in that series.

Me : "I.... like you in Game of Thrones, though!" - Gwendoline Christie is Brienne of Tarth in that series.

Possibly the last cast arrival (my camera started the premiere with about 3K shots on the battery life and 4K shots free on the memory card... and finished it with slightly less than half that left on each) - Oscar Isaac, who plays <checks> Poe Dameron <tm> in the film and/or action figure toy line associated with this IP.

Possibly the last cast arrival (my camera started the premiere with about 3K shots on the battery life and 4K shots free on the memory card... and finished it with slightly less than half that left on each) - Oscar Isaac, who plays <checks> Poe Dameron <tm> in the film and/or action figure toy line associated with this IP.

"That's not blood on my shirt. It's just the red carpet reflecting onto my shirt. But if I'm going for intimidation, then yes, that's totally blood on my shirt"

"That's not blood on my shirt. It's just the red carpet reflecting onto my shirt. But if I'm going for intimidation, then yes, that's totally blood on my shirt"

Random attendee : Danny Devito. Disney are apparently hours away from buying 20th Century Fox's film studio, but don't worry Warner Bros and Universal : they'll get you soon enough.

Random attendee : Danny Devito. Disney are apparently hours away from buying 20th Century Fox's film studio, but don't worry Warner Bros and Universal : they'll get you soon enough.

And since I posted that shot of Danny Devito for the Ladiez, here's one for the guys. I don't know who she is... but perhaps it doesn't matter so much.

And since I posted that shot of Danny Devito for the Ladiez, here's one for the guys. I don't know who she is... but perhaps it doesn't matter so much.

Whither Adam Driver? (and will that dude under the poster dressed as something plastic have to sit on the tube on the way home with everyone staring at him, and will he care?)

Whither Adam Driver? (and will that dude under the poster dressed as something plastic have to sit on the tube on the way home with everyone staring at him, and will he care?)

Late arrivals, but I suspect not in the movie : the Princes Harry and William. There were bag-checks and sniffer dogs at this premiere, but I do wonder about whether anyone checked the Stormtroopers...

Late arrivals, but I suspect not in the movie : the Princes Harry and William. There were bag-checks and sniffer dogs at this premiere, but I do wonder about whether anyone checked the Stormtroopers...

"If one were to send tweets during the screening, and one were in line to the throne of England, would that mitigate the anger of everyone around me somewhat?"

"If one were to send tweets during the screening, and one were in line to the throne of England, would that mitigate the anger of everyone around me somewhat?"

So... you want us to go home now?

So... you want us to go home now?

So.... that's that. 2017's slate of Premieres finishes (or rather, there's one later this week but I won't be attending) and I'm somehow still standing after it all!

Will I keep doing this? Well... I'm still a couple short of photographing that Magic 500th premiere, so here's hoping.

Until next year!

UPDATE : The Red Carpet Monochrome premiere journal with mostly all different photos is (finally) done, and it's here

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