15 Oct - The BFI LFF 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' Closing Gala

October 15th, 2017.

So... it's come to this. The Closing Gala of the 2017 BFI London Film Festival. And I've been boring everyone for weeks as soon as they announced the guests, the closing ceremony was THE EVENT it was all leading to. Why? Because the event contained not one but FOUR people I've never photographed before : Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Frances McDormand and the mighty PETER DINKLAGE.

Some days a girl has four names on a list... and I'm a guy, but there are four names... and there is a last.

Here's how it went down:

We've finally hit the end of BFI London Film Festival 2017, and some have weathered it better than others.

We've finally hit the end of BFI London Film Festival 2017, and some have weathered it better than others.

Long shadows signalling the end of a long unbroken sequence of Events I've Photographed that stretches back to Monday... two weeks ago. I'm still standing, but you could also call it slouching.

Long shadows signalling the end of a long unbroken sequence of Events I've Photographed that stretches back to Monday... two weeks ago. I'm still standing, but you could also call it slouching.

"These people mostly look unfamiliar to me, and not just because I'm looking at them upside-down". The List has more than four names on it... but mine has four. And a tick-mark next to each is what I want from this premiere.

"These people mostly look unfamiliar to me, and not just because I'm looking at them upside-down". The List has more than four names on it... but mine has four. And a tick-mark next to each is what I want from this premiere.

"Boss... I think we got a Code Alpha 314...." "You mean a better-than-average looking woman walking past us on our right?" "That too... but there's also a mass of sign-waving, drum-beating protesters in the park" The solution turned out to be turning the music in the speakers up much, much louder.

"Boss... I think we got a Code Alpha 314...."
"You mean a better-than-average looking woman walking past us on our right?"
"That too... but there's also a mass of sign-waving, drum-beating protesters in the park"

The solution turned out to be turning the music in the speakers up much, much louder.

And to the beating of (literal) drums and chanting of (literal) protesters throwing (literal) leaflets and carrying huge signs and even blocking the car entry point of the premiere, it nonetheless began.

Our first arrival is not in this movie, but Stellan Skarsgard has been in movies as diverse as David Fincher (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and Marvel (Thor The Dark World for example)

Our first arrival is not in this movie, but Stellan Skarsgard has been in movies as diverse as David Fincher (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and Marvel (Thor The Dark World for example)

Forget every credit on the lengthy imdb listing of actress Sandy Martin : she was the Bartender in Speed (1994) !! I love that movie!!

Forget every credit on the lengthy imdb listing of actress Sandy Martin : she was the Bartender in Speed (1994) !! I love that movie!!

Kathryn Newton, meanwhile is apparently best known for being in a series called "Big Little Lies", though I'm looking with alarm at another entry, titled "Dog With A Blog". Damnit, if that's based on a true story I'm now going to be losing to ANIMALS in the quest to get a spot in a 'social influencers' pen at one of these premieres.

Kathryn Newton, meanwhile is apparently best known for being in a series called "Big Little Lies", though I'm looking with alarm at another entry, titled "Dog With A Blog". Damnit, if that's based on a true story I'm now going to be losing to ANIMALS in the quest to get a spot in a 'social influencers' pen at one of these premieres.

"You think I'm pretty? It's not just the dress? Because I'm pretty open to the notion that the dress adds a certain amount of pretty"

"You think I'm pretty? It's not just the dress? Because I'm pretty open to the notion that the dress adds a certain amount of pretty"

"Sure, I was in that... but I can't literally sign A DOG" - it's hard to tell what anyone's saying behind the protesting drumming and chanting and the sound-system playing ABBA and Scissor Sister songs at volumes you could break sieges at religious compounds...

"Sure, I was in that... but I can't literally sign A DOG" - it's hard to tell what anyone's saying behind the protesting drumming and chanting and the sound-system playing ABBA and Scissor Sister songs at volumes you could break sieges at religious compounds...

Martin McDonagh has won an Oscar for 'best short film' AND directed "In Bruges", which was both very good AND I literally watched it while ON HOLIDAY IN BRUGES.

Martin McDonagh has won an Oscar for 'best short film' AND directed "In Bruges", which was both very good AND I literally watched it while ON HOLIDAY IN BRUGES.

A list has four names on it. This is one : SAM ROCKWELL, who I thought was excellent in Moon (2009), very good in "The Way Way Back", definitely in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", kind of 'eh' in "Iron Man 2" and I wanted to punch myself in the face during "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"....

A list has four names on it. This is one : SAM ROCKWELL, who I thought was excellent in Moon (2009), very good in "The Way Way Back", definitely in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", kind of 'eh' in "Iron Man 2" and I wanted to punch myself in the face during "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind"....

"You're on somebody else's list in the number two position. Turn around" - ventriloquy is a thing.

"You're on somebody else's list in the number two position. Turn around" - ventriloquy is a thing.

Three quarters of the people on My List Of Names are currently standing with their back to me. It's quite exciting.

Three quarters of the people on My List Of Names are currently standing with their back to me. It's quite exciting.

"Please don't make us turn around. We'll do anything!". well... damn. That's going to make me almost as sad as the cute Korean girl with the hand-written sign made specifically for Peter Dinklage.

"Please don't make us turn around. We'll do anything!". well... damn. That's going to make me almost as sad as the cute Korean girl with the hand-written sign made specifically for Peter Dinklage.

Even though my patience is slightly less limited than the battery charges on the two cameras I'm wielding to this event, it is not entirely unlimited. I do have to go to work tomorrow.

Even though my patience is slightly less limited than the battery charges on the two cameras I'm wielding to this event, it is not entirely unlimited. I do have to go to work tomorrow.

It's Frances McDormand! She won an Oscar for 'Fargo (1996)' and hopes nobody remembers she was in Transformers : Dark of the Moon even if it was no doubt a handy payday. And having photographed her, that's two tick-marks on my list of four.

It's Frances McDormand! She won an Oscar for 'Fargo (1996)' and hopes nobody remembers she was in Transformers : Dark of the Moon even if it was no doubt a handy payday. And having photographed her, that's two tick-marks on my list of four.

"Wait.. I haven't high-fived or chest-bumped Peter Dinklage yet!" Frances McDormand is also married to one of the Coen Brothers directing duo : Joel (on the left of this photo).

"Wait.. I haven't high-fived or chest-bumped Peter Dinklage yet!" Frances McDormand is also married to one of the Coen Brothers directing duo : Joel (on the left of this photo).

Peter Dinklage (a) is awesome, (b) the third of four people I really wanted to photograph at this premiere, and (c) has just read the hand-written sign from the cute Korean girl in our pen.

Peter Dinklage (a) is awesome, (b) the third of four people I really wanted to photograph at this premiere, and (c) has just read the hand-written sign from the cute Korean girl in our pen.

"Oh, good. It's not a euphemism. I guess I feel safe enough to get closer". Peter Dinklage is fantastic in Game of Thrones (and he didn't attend the s5 World Premiere as far as I could see, and that's nothing to do with his height and everything to do with my position)

"Oh, good. It's not a euphemism. I guess I feel safe enough to get closer". Peter Dinklage is fantastic in Game of Thrones (and he didn't attend the s5 World Premiere as far as I could see, and that's nothing to do with his height and everything to do with my position)

"Anyone here who calls me P-Diddy, even to be funny, is going to regret it deeply."

"Anyone here who calls me P-Diddy, even to be funny, is going to regret it deeply."

"Chronicles of Narnia? Really? That's what you like me best from??"

"Chronicles of Narnia? Really? That's what you like me best from??"

I don't care if Sam Rockwell was three-quarter profile and looking down, I don't care if Frances McDormand was rushing to get away, and I don't care that Peter Dinklage didn't stay to down shots with his fans. I'm calling it Three Down, One To Go.

"What's that freaking noise? My fans are usually so quiet and considerate..." - It's FOUR FROM FOUR. Uh... I mean... it's Woody Harrelson!!

"What's that freaking noise? My fans are usually so quiet and considerate..." - It's FOUR FROM FOUR. Uh... I mean... it's Woody Harrelson!!

"That's right. TWO." Woody Harrelson has indeed been nominated for not one but two Academy Awards - for No Country For Old Men, and The People Vs Larry Flint (but not Now You See Me and Zombieland, which is what I like him best int!)

"That's right. TWO." Woody Harrelson has indeed been nominated for not one but two Academy Awards - for No Country For Old Men, and The People Vs Larry Flint (but not Now You See Me and Zombieland, which is what I like him best int!)

"Star Wars? Yeah... I'm the Star Wars. Me and Spock and Chewie and the Daleks and all that"

"Star Wars? Yeah... I'm the Star Wars. Me and Spock and Chewie and the Daleks and all that"

We've relocated to the interview section of the public pen to see if we can get better shots of some of the cast being interviewed. This has only brought us into closer proximity to screaming, placard-waving, paper flyer throwing protesters... so loud that the interview station has been moved closer to the cinema entrance.

Still...despite the noise, here's random attendee Rosamund Pike, of "What We Did On Our Holiday", "The World's End" and "Gone Girl" fame.

Still...despite the noise, here's random attendee Rosamund Pike, of "What We Did On Our Holiday", "The World's End" and "Gone Girl" fame.

"Wait... you were in JOHN WICK and you NEVER TOLD US?". Not only that, but Peter Clarke is in this movie AND one of two cast members OF this movie who was also in the Man/Woman/Puppy rom(ish)com(ish) "Marley & Me"

"Wait... you were in JOHN WICK and you NEVER TOLD US?". Not only that, but Peter Clarke is in this movie AND one of two cast members OF this movie who was also in the Man/Woman/Puppy rom(ish)com(ish) "Marley & Me"

"Marley and Me? What a great movie! I barely remember it..."

"Marley and Me? What a great movie! I barely remember it..."

"I like this country. In my country, when people hold up signs espousing Marxist philosophies, people risk getting shot". And here they get ABBA songs played at them. Loudly.

"I like this country. In my country, when people hold up signs espousing Marxist philosophies, people risk getting shot". And here they get ABBA songs played at them. Loudly.

Oh, look. Shit got .... colourful.

Oh, look. Shit got .... colourful.

"The minimum wage is important, people. As is housing rights for whales, Veganism, Rail Nationalisation, and the right to make shitty DC Comics movies nobody wants to watch. So show some respect, okay?"

"The minimum wage is important, people. As is housing rights for whales, Veganism, Rail Nationalisation, and the right to make shitty DC Comics movies nobody wants to watch. So show some respect, okay?"

Is that it? Is it over? Can we go home now?

Is that it? Is it over? Can we go home now?

I decided it wasn't yet (quite) time to go just yet. Not because I'm unwilling to declare this BFI London Film Festival Finally Over, but because... well... what else was I going to do? Find out they've cancelled the 19:36 train to Bedford even sooner than I otherwise would?

For high-risk, low-return photography, there's nothing quite like shooting through a pane of glass at a distance with reflections on one side and photographers' flashes on the other. I like the pensive girl in the foreground of this.

For high-risk, low-return photography, there's nothing quite like shooting through a pane of glass at a distance with reflections on one side and photographers' flashes on the other. I like the pensive girl in the foreground of this.

Group Shot! (Sam Rockwell, the only person I haven't *really* photographed all that well at this premiere, is the only person whose face is bisected by the division in the glass doors of the cinema. Huzzah. Still ... a nice alignment.

Group Shot! (Sam Rockwell, the only person I haven't *really* photographed all that well at this premiere, is the only person whose face is bisected by the division in the glass doors of the cinema. Huzzah. Still ... a nice alignment.

Flawless victory. (Also : I know the guy at the top right in the reflection : hi, Midhat!)

Flawless victory. (Also : I know the guy at the top right in the reflection : hi, Midhat!)

So... that was that. BFI London Film Festival 2017. OVER. By my count I covered 17 events in 14 days (18 if you count a composer event), and I'm absolutely fine with there being a little break now. Last year after BFI LFF ended there were four premieres in a row on the following four days.... not so much this time around. Though after taking Monday off... there IS a premiere in London on Tuesday.

Until .... next time!

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