Unmonitored, on-set photos can be the picture of troubleSo there's this kid running an entertainment website who keeps requesting to visit our film set.
Wants to take pictures and conduct interviews with the cast to post on the site's "movie" section. Like clockwork, he calls twice a week. He's determined, politely, not to take no for answer. "I shall call again next week," he cheerfully ends. His website is as obscure as the Eastern European nation in which he resides, still he's proud to inform me the site has "some 200" regular visitors. We have more people than that standing around our set, I respond, and our cast couldn't possibly be expected to devote their limited time to such a limited audience.
Pictures on even obscure websites are problematic for publicists to begin with, as they can often wind up in mainstream media outlets. In fact, the unit photographer I'm working with now is dealing with a sticky situation stemming from the recent publication of unauthorized photos taken on the set of his previous film. The photos, which feature Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, appeared in People and set off an informal legal inquiry on behalf of one of the actors - causing the studio's publicity department to scramble to conduct an investigation.
The first direction they looked, naturally, was at the unit photographer, who was quickly able to demonstrate that the shots in question were not his. So many crewmembers have cameras on set these days that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint the guilty party. These particular photos hit a nerve because of the flurry of rumors that Pitt and Jolie's relationship during the making of the movie may have contributed to Brad's split from Jennifer Aniston.
Who knows? Who cares? Point is: Presented in the wrong context, on-set photos can create big problems for the publicist and photographer. Controlling these images is a priority.
Which brings us back to our website friend. Knowing that the downside of his presence far outweighs the upside, I'd be foolish to let him near the set. Which is what I'm going to do. Can't help it, I like the kid. Anyone showing so much determination deserves a break. Rejection rolls off him like sweat from a road-worker on a Texas summer afternoon. (Thought you might appreciate a heat metaphor in the dead of winter.)
Strict ground rules will be enforced and he'll have to endure standing outside in the cold, for hours, possibly. But he'll get his chance. He's earned it.
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer