A Night Out in LA (5) part 1

As if my life is not exciting enough, I had such a fun, event filled night, I have to break it down into two parts to post it. I know I get wordy.

First Part: Premiere of the Surfing Movie The Present, directed by Thomas Campbell.

This was a real premiere, complete with free food, drinks, lines, paparazzi, celebrities (surfing celebrities), art, music, raffles and give-aways. Phew! Having been to a free screening before, I knew to get there early because first come, first served, they will overbook to guarantee a full house. I was number 2 in line, at 4:46 pm, with nothing supposedly happening until 6, when we would be able to get our tickets. I brought book, iPod, writing material, camera. I was prepared for the wait.

The Paparazzi

The Paparazzi

The event was held at The (Ricardo) Montalban (Theatre), just a short walk south of Hollywood and Vine, and as we waited in line, various vendors came and dropped off supplies. The Izze fizzy soda people, the Bl!sss magazine people, Belvedere Vodka, people with surfboards, the photographers, and all the Nike clad helpers. Nike was sponsoring the event, and every person I saw walking up to the entrance with bright Nike shoes turned out to be a worker. Surprise!

And sure enough, right after 6, we got to go pick up our tickets, showing our ID to match our RSVPs, and then got to go stand in another line! Woo-hoo! I was still second in line. Many people wandered off at this point, figuring since they had a ticket, they could go get something to eat and come back and still get in. Me, though hungry, didn’t like the odds. The new line I was in was getting awfully long, and the opposing, non-ticket holding line, still existed. I stayed until the doors were opened for us.

And headed straight for the restroom. The problem with going to these things by yourself is having to strategize what needs to be done, since you can’t guarantee anyone holding a place for you, like a friend would. So bathroom first, scope, then seat.

There was popcorn, M&Ms, Skittles and Reese’s peanut butter cups, and Izze soda and water all laid out, free for the taking. I found it rather amusing for a bunch of people interested in surfing, or else they wouldn’t be attending, that such not particularly healthy items were our choices. Especially when sponsored by Nike! Where were the wheatgrass shots and vegan dip and crudites? And let me tell you, those candies were very popular. Especially the peanut M&Ms.

Upstairs was the art gallery. An entire room’s walls were covered in art, and then framed artwork placed on one wall of the artified walls. A single guitarist was sitting on a chair, playing one long continuous haunting song. And the bar was on the other end of the room. Nike clad women walked around with various Belvedere or beer drinks, gladly taken by those attending.

The Art Gallery, Bar and Musician

The Art Gallery, Bar and Musician

It was starting to get crowded, so I walked back downstairs, noticing that the entrances to the balcony were roped off and a single woman was letting some people through. Must be the VIP section, I guessed. Downstairs, I asked the man standing in front of the theatre door if we could go and sit down. Not yet, he said, we’ll let you in around 7:40.

Hmm, I thought. So much for the whole point of standing so long in line. Because now it will be whomever is closest to the doors will get first pick. But one of the beautiful things about going to these events solo, is often, you can get a better seat because you are filling the holes left between groups of people. And so it was the case. In the meantime, I ate a dinner of popcorn, candy and drinks. Yum.

Once inside the theatre, we found a band playing on stage. We were told it was Ray Barbee and the Mattson 2 and they did some of the music for the soundtrack. They were great. I had noticed them during set up, four men dressed in gray suits of the type early Beatles might have worn, and the gentleman playing upstairs turned out to be the first musician in a gray suit, and the three remaining were in this band. Even more amazing was one of the guitarists had a cast or splint on his finger picking arm, and still played flawlessly with the two fingers he had available.

The band finished, and speakers came out. The director came out and did a raffle based on our ticket stub numbers. Then the raffling of the two surf boards was going to be decided by a surf trivia contest. The rowdy VIP balcony section were the worst offenders in this game, insisting on shouting out answers when the four trivia winners were already on stage and the only ones playing at that point. One of the boards was a wooden, finless variety, an Alaia, and would be featured prominently in the movie. The maker of the board, an Australian named TomWegener, was also on hand.

The Trivia Prize Surfboards, with Tom Wegener on Right

The Trivia Prize Surfboards, with Tom Wegener on Right

On to the movie. I have seen surf films before, Step Into Liquid and Endless Summer. But never on a big screen. And never with an audience of enthusiastic surfers. The audience cheered for impressive waves, the audience cheered for impressively long rides on the waves. The audience cheered when the waves defeated the surfers, and the audience cheered when the surfers conquered the waves. If one ever thought surfing was not a sport, one need only look at the bodies of the surfers filmed. And watching them crouch on their boards, or performing walking back and forth on the board in what appeared to be slow moving martial arts positions, and there is no question of the athleticism involved.

One section of the movie was talking with a surfer to name his historical influences. What was interesting was watching the vintage footage of much older generations of surfers. So much has changed in what surfers can now do. The amount of grace and balance that has been gained in the intervening decades. Early surfers now look like mere beginners, to me. And yet, everyone then aspired to that level of expertise, as now surfers aspire to this new level of expertise. The other thing this surfer pointed out, was that for 99% of the surfers in the world, it is a lifestyle first and nothing more (or just everything). According to him, only 1% of surfers are actually competing. And that doesn’t mean that there aren’t surfers out there doing amazing things, it just might mean that no one knows about them. That’s why these surf movies are so vital, in capturing a community known to themselves in small groups, and with the technology of film, bringing their knowledge and feats to the attention of others, to inspire and elucidate their techniques.

This really was a premiere, as the director mentioned he put in final footage on Friday, footage that had been shot just last week. So one of the captions in the film said three days ago, and it really was! The film was mostly shot in 16mm, with a small portion of Red Camera. I didn’t know what this was, but the director mentioned it was a digital camera with 20 megapixels, so every single frame could easily be a still, the resolution was so high. And yet, for him, he prefers film and doubts he will fully convert, since he likes the grain and imperfections of film.

The film ended, there was a Q&A with two surfers, the director and moderated by an editor of Surf Magazine, and then the evening was over. As I walked up Vine to go catch the Metro, I walked by a restaurant with a velvet rope, and a line of photographers respectfully standing behind it, fidgeting as they waited for someone to leave. Ah, the paparazzi and the celebrity game was being played. I hurried away, not wanting to get caught in a bulb flashing melee. They probably had no idea a whole bunch of surfing celebrities were just down the street.

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One Response to “A Night Out in LA (5) part 1”

  1. A Night Out in LA (5) part 1 Red Room Salon | All For SURF FANATICS Says:

    […] A nice web master placed an observative post today on A Night Out in LA (5) part 1 Red Room SalonHere’s a quick excerptI found it rather amusing for a bunch of people interested in surfing, or else they wouldn’t be attending, that such not particularly healthy items were our choices. Especially when sponsored by Nike! Where were the wheatgrass shots and … […]

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