Hollywood Stars Head North for The Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Blog and How Quentin Tarantino Inspired Me to Become a Writer

Greetings everyone and Welcome to the first part of my Awards Season blog. Earlier this month for the second time (first 2010 James Franco Outstanding Actor Award) I attended the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Originally I had bought tickets to conversations and tributes to Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. I had applied for credentials with a magazine but were turned down due to the large amount of request they were getting. Just a few days before the start of the festival I revived an email that due to a conflict in his schedule (or not being nominated for an Oscar) Leo was canceling. The festival replaced him with “Django Unchained” director Quentin Tarantino. As a photographer, this would be a huge let down due to the popularity  marketability of Leo for potential sales. For me this was a tribute and felt like coming full circle. I have Mr. Tarintino to thank for inspiring me to move to LA in back in 1997.

Boston Film Festival October 1992 Copley Square

As some of you know I started off in New York as a child actor doing mainly theater and an IBM Computer commercial standing next to Alan Alda. At some point during doing interviews at WDMC Channel 19, at Roosevelt High School in Yonkers New York, I felt uncomfortable watching myself on my home TV. I decided to take a different journey and path. That road led me to Emerson College in Boston.

After a year and a half majoring in Audio and Radio I still felt like something was missing. That all changed one fall evening and a trip the Boston Film Festival. I remember my friend who was a Film major dragging me out in the cold to see a film by first-time writer-director. Unfortunately the director was not there funny enough due to a scheduling conflict. I remembering asking my friend what was the film about all I would get him was the title “Reservoir Dogs”. When the film started I had no idea what to expect. The opening scene we meet eight men having breakfast at a Los Angeles diner before their planned diamond heist. The movie opens with a casual conversation that turns out to be a piece of screenwriting history. Somehow a cheap robber named Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi)refusing to leave a tip gets crossed with the true meaning of Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”. From that minute on I was hooked. What really spoke to me was the writing. It reminded me of a conversation three of my friends and I had a few day’s earlier. No it was not a song but lets just say that two of the people at the bar left early to go watch “Melrose Place”. I didn’t know it then but that scene would be the first scene of the first screenplay I ever wrote. So if it were not for that night I might still be living in New York. I was more excited about being able to hear the writer, director, actor and producer speak.

28th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival – American Riviera Award Presentation to Quentin Tarantino

Since the award recepient and the date changed I thought there might be a possibility I could cover this night. I sent an email to the festival publicist who sent one back to me saying there would be no carpet but we could take pictures during the conversation and award presentation. I got to the theatre and found a seat four rows back on the right of the podium. The set up was a little unusual. there was a podium set up on the right on the press side. The opisite side of the stage had two chairs facing each other for the conversation. About 10 minutes before the start of the event I was texting Denise Berry http://livingdeelife.com/, when out of nowhere Quentin walked directly in front of me to his seat, which was about two feet from me. All I could think to say was hi and thanked him. He smiled and said hi back.

My favorite part of the evening was not just reliving scenes from all of Quentin’s films but hearing the stories on how he wrote. I found out that he writers the same why I do. One step at a time with no real map of where your going until you arrive at that place. Most of the conversation was Quentin talking about the writing aspect. I couldn’t have been more pleased. At the end of the evening the American Riviera Award was  presented passionately by SBIFF Festival Director Roger Durling. You could tell he was one of his heroes. Quinton tanked everyone and seemed to really enjoy the veining as he exited the stage with his award.

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2013 Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Amy Adams Cinema Vanguard Award  Presentation

I originally was not going to be at the festival on Thursday but when the Tarantino event was moved to Wednesday I decided to spend an extra night in Santa Barbara to attend the Amy Adams Tribute. After getting permission the previous night, I tried again to get credentials. This night it was actually after press check in. I was given a spot in the second row on a large ramp. I actually liked this spot a lot. I was high up but I had a view of everything and was able to get full length shots. I had photographed Amy at “The Muppet’s” and “On the Road” (2 very different movies) premieres in Hollywood. Both events were a madhouse filled with photographers and videographers.  I was looking forward to a more intimate carpet. Amy arrived wearing a cute white dress with black polka dots from Jenny Packham http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2013/02/in-or-out-amy-adams-in-jenny-packham.html.

Amy looked amazing as she walked the carpet and gave interviews to media outlets and Santa Barbara students. Most of the students were cool but they had way too many people on the carpet and did not stay in there place, which is a big no no for carpet events.

After the carpet I headed into the beautiful historic Arlington theatre for the award and conversation part of the evening. I found a seat about 5 rows back first seat on the right hand side. Amy like Tarantino entered the theatre before the start and ended sitting about two feet away from me. She gracefully walked to the stage after her introduction. She seemed like she does in interviews a real down to earth clean cut person. She spoke about all of the many different roles she had and acted in, and was shown clips of her film career during a 90-minute interview with moderator Pete Hammon. One interesting fact I found out was Amy’s father was in the Army and she was born on a military base. Amy talked about her stage fright and seemed honored that her “The Master” her writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and co-star/fellow Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix were in the crowd to support her. The evening ended with Paul Thomas Anderson presenting her the Cinema Vanguard Award which is given to risk takers. He joked about her clean cut image and poked fun at her by mentioning drugs (F.Y.I.which he hasn’t done) a few times. Amy has taken many risky roles in her career (award was created for risk takers), so I found this award recipent was well deserved.

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Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Jennifer Lawrence Outstanding Performer of the Year Award & Conversation

My last event of the festival was the one I was most looking forward to. Since seeing “Winters Bone (Jennifer’s first Oscar Nomination) I had wanted to photograph her. I can’t remember another actress that rose so fast in complicated roles. Jennifer arrived wearing   a Stella McCartney blue jumpsuit. She immediately headed for her fans who were waiting for a couple hours for the chance to get an autograph and picture of the Oscar nominated actress. She walked quickly down the carpet after spending more time with videographers. She looked absolutely stunning and it was worth the trip just to see her.

After the carpet we headed into the Arlington theatre once again. Like the other nights Jennifer, sat just a few feet away from me. She was sitting with some girl friends and in front of the award presenter her director in “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell. The festival’s executive director Roger Durling, introduced her described her work as “filled with electric energy and vitality,”. He then called her a star is doing her a disservice. She’s a supernova!”. Unfortunately for Roger he was also the moderator. In one of the most embracing and painful things I’ve seen Roger spoke about Jennifer getting her start in theatre. A shocked actress, told him she never did theatre. At this point the interview felt like a uncomfortable blind date. Roger looked embraced and there was a weird feeling for the rest of the interview. Jennifer did talk about how she never imagined this kind of life. She had pictured herself as a Soccer Mom. The actress admitted that she never prepares herself before filming. She doesn’t read her lines in advance or familiarize herself with shooting schedules. She also shared her  stage fight and feeling uncomfortable on the Red carpet and in interviews.

After the interview was over David O. Russell her director in “Silver Linings Playbook” gave a speech and presented her with the award. This also didn’t go smoothly. I’m guessing that no one told her that she was supose to give an aceptance speech. After getting the award she seemed confused where to go or what to do. She “Thank you Santa Barbara!” and rushed off the stage. I have a feeling that she will be more prepared if she wins the Oscar on February 24th.

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Thank you for joining me on another adventure. For more celebrity photos check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.shensa and follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Jonathanshensa. You can also read my past blogs here: http://theoutsidersguidetotheinsideofhollywood.com/


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. Check out my entertainment blog, "The Outsiders Guide to the Inside of Hollywood". WWW.theOutsidersGuidetotheInsideofHollywood.com
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