Dorothy and the Witches of Oz – Land in Arizona for their Premiere Weekend

Greetings everyone, and welcome to my latest entertainment blog for “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood.” Originally my newest blog was supposed to be my experiences as a photographer on the carpet at “The Vow” and “This Means War” premieres. I will also include, my evening in the fan section, and in the autograph seeker section at the “Wanderlust” premiere. I have not had the time to see “Wanderlust”, so that will be my next blog.

You may already know from my previous blog that I’m a huge supporter of independent music. I’ve also been a lover of Independent films. Ever since seeing “Reservoir Dogs”, at the Boston Film Festival back in the 90’s (that film made me want to be a screenwriter) I’ve always been a fan. I’ve always loved stories where an underdog trying to make it with out help or money from a major studio gets their film produced. Last week, I had the privilege of covering opening weekend events for an independent director, Leigh Scott for his latest film “Dorothy and the Witches of Oz”.

After working a before and after shoot for “ Wanderlust” on only had about 2 hours of sleep, I started to drive further than I’ve ever been on the 10 East freeway. As I headed into the middle of nowhere, I felt like I was on a journey. No, I was not going to “The Land of Oz, I was heading for Mesa Arizona, which was the first stop on the film’s promotional tour.

After not being able to book anymore events with my agency, I originally was heading back to Northern California, but ended up getting in touch with Eliza Swenson.  I started to read about the film and decided to make the trip and to cover the premiere. Eliza is not only a writer, producer, and composer for the film, she also plays Billie Westbrook, Dorothy’s agent in the film.

“Dorothy and the Witches of Oz” Mesa Premiere – Arrivals and Q & A 

When I got to the theater the first thing I saw was a Yellow Carpet, and a long line of fans for the sold out premiere. After a very long drive, I was happy to see how well the carpet was lit. It sounds simple but I can’t tell you how many A list events  have lighting issues. The carpet began with some local celebrities. One of them was former Arizona Diamondback Matt Williams, who was part of the 2001 World Series champion team that broke my heart and many other Yankee fans. I wanted to yell out “You’ve Got My Ring”! He was accompanied by his spouse and reality TV star Erika Williams (Baseball Wives) and family.

Actor and comedian Barry Ratcliffe, who does an amazing job playing the Cowardly Lion, was the first tom arrive and was the host of the yellow carpet. Barry gave us some Lion poses then signed autographs for fans. Everyone looked stunning walking the carpet. Professional wrestler and actor in the film Al Snow, posed for pictures with the films stars in his sports jacket and jeans. From his pictures you can tell what a great personality he has to go along with his many talents.

The ladies’ gowns were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen at an event. Jessica Sonneborn, Chanel Ryan, and Brooke Taylor wore perfect dresses to to go along with the colors of the carpet and background. Up and coming actress, Ashe Parker was stunning in an emerald green dress. I expect to see a lot more of her in the future as she truly has an interesting look.

All of the witches walked the carpet. The final one’s to arrive were Eliza Swenson who wore a long blue dress that looked amazing on her, and Noel Thurman in a long black gown. Paulie Rojas, who was superior in the role of Dorothy in the film looked elegant in her purple dress.

After the carpet we all headed inside to watch the film. This version of the classic tale was brought together by director Leigh Scott http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leigh_Scott.

The film is a modern adaptation of L.Frank Baum’s world of Oz. It contains elements from the books,  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Magic of Oz, Ozma of Oz and The Road to Oz. I was really impressed by this film. Scott’s directing and writing were magnificent. He brought to life the story of a modern day Dorothy living in New York City, as a children’s writer unaware that her stories were represented memories she had from her journey to Oz. All the performances were great. However Eliza Swenson had the toughest job playing the dual role of Dorothy’s agent, who turns out to be the wicked witch. Eliza’s transforms from the Upper East Side New Yorker type to the wicked witch right in front of us.  The movie is in selected theaters. I highly recommend this film. It’s a must to see on the big screen. After the film a Q & A was held with Scott and several actors, who answered fans questions, signed autographs, and took pictures with the sold out crowd.

“Dorothy and the Witches of Oz” Premiere  & After Party at Hotel Indigo Scottsdale on February 17, 2012

The after party was held at the Hotel Indigo in Scottsdale Arizona. The hotel was in the heart of the downtown area. There had to be 50 bars and restaurants within walking distance in the area.  Along with fans were people using Golf Carts and other methods of transporting people. It felt like an adult Disneyland. After finally parking my car I went to the hotel where a number of the cast mates were celebrating the evening with their friends and co actors. I took a number of pictures of the actors and their guests. After that I spoke to several of the guests and heard about a lot of interesting independent films that these filmmakers were working on. As the evening ended I knew I was going to have to pull another all nighter. I decided to get some sleep for a few hours before working throughout the day.

“Dorothy and the Witches of Oz” Screening and Meet & Greet at the Harkins Chandler Theater, AZ  – February 18, 2012

After working all day on the premiere pictures I was getting ready to go to Chandler for the evening’s next event, a Screening and Meet and Greet at the Harkins theater in Chandler. After the film the crowd was surprised by actors Barry Ratcliffe and Al Snow.

Barry and Al answered some questions as the cast members took pictures with fans and Harkins staff employes by the films poster. One of the kids looked to be about 9 and was stoked to have his picture taken with a professional wrestler, Al Snow. That brought back memories of my dad taking me to the matches in Madison Square Garden. As we started to walk outside a large crowd of pre – teens were hanging out at the theater. As soon as the kids saw the ladies who were all dressed up, their eyes lit up like Christmas morning. one of the boys looked at Eliza and said “You look like Angelina Jolie”.  They couldn’t believe that these Hollywood actors were at their local theater. A large number of kids met and took pictures with the actors. It was an unplanned event but ended up being one of the most fun to cover. To me that’s what it’s all about having a direct impact in someones life. The cast showed what down to earth people they were. Sadly this was my last event with the cast. This was not just a great cast but a great bunch of people. A lot of them have worked together before but they seemed just as close off screen. It was like a family and I want to thank all of them for accepting me into that family even if it was just for a few days. The “Dorothy and the Witches of Oz cast and director continued on the promotional tour that took them to Kansas and Kentucky this week. I have the feeling it will be in a lot more markets soon. If you live in the area you must go out and support this visionary film. http://followtheyellowbrickroad.com/

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Thanks for joining me on this edition of “The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood”. Later this week we’ll take a step back as I’ll be diving back in to that mosh pit known as the photographers pool at LA premiere’s of “The Vow, “This Means War”, and the fan and autograph section at “Wanderlusts” premiere in Westwood.

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About Jonathanshensa

I'm a Celebrity Event Photographer, producer and Screenwriter. I also worked with promoting bands and spent 5 years in music management. In my younger days, I was also an Actor, News reporter, DJ, and have worked at Talent, and Management companies. I love the mass media but also love to talk about everyday topics. I want to have a positive and creative impact on the entertainment business. http://jonathan-scott-shensa-photography.net/
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