Movie Stars in Mill Valley! MV Film Festival – From a Photographer’s Eye


It is almost time for the California Film Institute’s 2015 Mill Valley Film Festival (October 8 – 18, 2015) and that got me thinking about last year’s festival when I worked as a photographer.  That was when I decided for sure that I didn’t want to be a movie star.

The opening event is held at the Outdoor Art Club.  It’s a private women’s civics and conservation club dedicating to preserving a beautiful Arts & Crafts building designed by architect Bernard Maybeck and the lovely garden.  IMG_1592It has the added convenience of being located across the street from the Sequoia Theater in Mill Valley, where the opening night film, “The Horsemen,” was shown.


The Opening Night VIP party is attended by everyone:  filmmakers, producers, locals, people involved in this festival, people from other festivals, even you, if you buy a ticket in time here.





There are, of course, artists and actors, although Hal and Myrna Tatar were actually across the street in line for the movie.


Everyone had a camera.


Meanwhile, the official photographers rushed around shooting pictures, taking names, and trading sightings.



But the main event is when the star of the show arrives for the opening.  Hilary Swank flew in from Paris and appeared in a gorgeous blue movie star gown.  She was swept into the little garden behind the club, away from the party, and posed with the director of the festival, the president of CFI, and the sponsors. Here is how she looked:


But this is what it looked like:


She generously turned her head as photographers called her name (here, with CFI President, Jennifer MacCready).  Here comes my turn:


And there she goes:


After this, Hilary went into the club for a private Q&A with the big wigs.  When this was finished, she was hustled into her black SUV, driven around the block, and deposited at the Sequoia after the viewers were already seated inside.  This is what it looks like when a movie star gets out of a car and there is no red carpet “step and repeat”:


Hilary was very gracious, even when I was setting up my tripod inside the theater and accidentally jabbed her with my elbow as she waited through the introduction before walking down the aisle.

At last, here she is meeting her public at the screening of “The Horsemen” with Mark Fishkin, Director of the Mill Valley Film Festival:


Another red carpet MVFF event was the screening of “Like Sunday, Like Rain” attended by filmmaker Frank Whaley and stars Leighton Meester and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. This was one held at the Rafael Theater in San Rafael.

Leighton Meester is very, very pretty in person with perfectly symmetrical features and luminous skin.  But on camera?  A knockout!  No such thing as a bad angle.

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And here she is talking with the press:


Here is filmmaker Frank Whaley speaking with interviewers:


And here is Billie Joe Armstrong:


And all three for a final pose:


It takes a lot of grace to be a movie star, and a lot of stamina to stand up to the demands of the public.   That’s why I’m staying on the shy side of the camera.