Friday, August 18, 2006

The press junket

A press junket is a way of getting lots of interviews done all at once. The interviewees park themselves in a hotel room, while millions of journalists are brought in one by one, for about 5 minutes. It's quite a bizarre, unreal world, and on Tuesday I was part of the Severance junket.

I got there in the morning, and found a room filled with journalists and soft drinks. Lurking in the corridors were Andy Nyman and Tim McInnerny, who had been constructing an elaborate pretence that Tim had turned up (at 11am) completely drunk, and that they needed to "handle" him... Those crazy kids! First interview was with me and Chris, and a very nice journo bloke doing a general print thingy. We chatted for a bit, then I got taken out to do some TV ones. Yes, TV. Two chairs were set up in the middle of a tiny, tiny room jammed full of lights, microphones, bits of equipment, and several patient, but melting, crew people. A nice bloke from Sky Movies interviewed me first, while I drank lots of water and tried not to stare at the massive camera that was pointing at me. It was only about 5 or 10 minutes, and then he was done. After that, it was the turn of a nice lady from The Zone Horror Channel, who asked me more questions. I was more relaxed by this stage, and managed to crack some jokes and make it a bit more entertaining than my usual panicked, mumbling monotone. When that ended, I escaped the terrible room of heat, and went back to the holding room with the journos again. Some other TV things were happening with the other actors, and Emily Booth was one of the interviewers, who is famous and stuff, and used to be on that games show called Bits - she came in to get her tapes when she was finished, I didn't recognise her for a minute. She's tiny, and seemed really nice, but I didn't say hello because she wasn't interviewing me, didn't know who I was, and I didn't want to be that creepy guy who goes up and says hello to people off the telly. So if she's reading this: hello! You're tiny, and you seem really nice!

I'd done three interviews now, and had been asked much the same questions. I mentioned this to the Sky bloke, who explained that everyone will be asking the same things, because there are some things they all need to get quotes on - where did the idea come from, why do we like to be scared, etc etc. I confessed that I'd said more or less the same thing every time - not to be lazy, but because they're the only answers I have, so I just had to try and phrase them differently. I said "do you know we're saying the same thing to everyone?" and he just laughed and nodded. Rumbled! He seemed okay with it, though. If he hadn't been, I would have had him killed - there was a person there doing that for us, a drinks person, a handler, a herder, and a body dumper, they really look after you at these things. Claudie Blakley, Babou Ceesay and Danny Dyer were there by that stage, so there was more banter, and then we got herded into a room for our lunch. Which was brilliant fun. Me, Chris, Tim, Babou, Andy, Claudie, and Danny, scoffing food, swearing, and laughing our arses off, it was really nice.

After that, there was a big "roundtable" - all of us sat around a table, with about 8 journalists and tape recorders, all firing questions randomly, with us jumping in when we wanted. I had decided that there was no way I'd get a word in, and that they wouldn't be interested in me anyway (the writer isn't as glamorous or interesting, to be fair), but I got asked a good few questions which I handled with aplomb. If you define 'aplomb' as 'talking so quietly and nervously they have to move all the microphones right up to your face'. But I did okay. Most of the time though, I was just laughing at all the joking that was going on.

Once that was finished, my stuff was all done, so I waved goodbye to anyone who wasn't still locked inside rooms being interviewed, and went on my way. I'd drunk 100 glasses of water, 47 cups of coffee, and talked about myself and the movie for hours. On the way home, I had to stop myself discussing the nature of horror with complete strangers. It was an incredibly weird experience, but fantastic fun. I can totally understand why you see actors going a bit funny at these things - when they get asked the same question a hundred times in a row, they must just start making stuff up to break the monotony. I'll never get that intense level of scrutiny, thankfully, so it'll probably always be this laid back for me. Besides, I think one day per junket is probably quite enough...


Danny Stack said...

Wicked. Good job sir.

Dan said...

Wow, your head must have been spinning. Well done.

Michael Gambon famously makes things up when being interviewed. He once convinced a journalist he had been the lead dancer for the royal ballet.

soulmining said...

That's really cool!

As is having your film's trailer screening with the mighty Snakes On A Plane!

Everyone's getting really excited. Even my flatmate Steve (the one you met in Chinatown last November) who hates horror films said he'll go and see it when he saw the TV ad tonight!

T. said...

Right on dude!
Sporks are's not everybody that mentions runsable spoons in their blogs.....(you know, from the owl and the pussycat) Can't wait for the film.
I found you through Dan the man.

Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

I'm looking forward to seeing it.

I've always said I don't like horror, so I tried to break myself in easily last night with Snakes on a Plane. I loved it but thought it was more action than horror. Perhaps I'm putting too much of a narrow label on what I think is horror.

Anyway, I'll pay my fiver to see it. Will any of it make its way to you, or have you earned your last penny from Severance?



James Moran said...

Yeah, SoaP was more action, with jumpy-bits. And it even featured a spork - Sam holds one up and says "Sporks?", clearly aware that pens are far mightier.

Chris: It's not too traumatising, you should be okay. I'm down for a tiny taste of the net profits, but you never know how much that will be.

Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

That's right. A spork.

I was going to mention it but I forgot. It would seem the snake is also mightier than the spork :)