So what did I do last night? Oh, nothing much, I just watched a movie with Chris Messina and his friends and family, Mindy Kaling, Ed Weeks, Beth Grant, Zoe Jarman, Matthew Del Negro, Paul Dano, Glenn Close and Max Greenfield, NO BIG DEAL!
Meeting Chris Messina’s dad at the ticket line:
The film was to be screened at 9 pm, and we get there at 7:30 to stand in line and secure good seats. We were at the front of the line, with just two other people behind us, when an older, very dapper couple stand behind us and start chatting. The man asks us if we know Chris (“we know OF him” “we would LIKE to know him”), and introduces himself as Chris’ dad’s best friend from Long Island and tells us that they have known Chris since way back. He talks about how exciting this premiere is and how busy Chris is and how well he’s doing for himself. At this point, I am giggling uncontrollably, just knowing that at that moment, I’m one degree removed from Chris. Fucking. Messina. I want to ask him if he’s ever seen When Dating Gets Dangerous, and if back then, anyone ever thought that he would be in this major film festival making his directorial debut. But I resisted, for fear of being blacklisted from any future Messina events.
A few minutes later, Chris’ dad (handsome, white-haired, sharply dressed older man) comes by to give his friends their tickets and chat. His friend introduces us as “Chris’ fans,” and his dad says, “oh wow, that’s so nice,” followed by a wide, pearly white grin – so that’s where Chris gets it from! They chat for a bit about which hotel they’re staying at, where the afterparty will be, and who among their friends are there. I feel like a total stalker hearing all this.
Chris Messina rubbing my arm with his giant hand before the screening:
The ticket holder line is a bit of a distance away from the red carpet (which is right by the theater entrance), but we’re able to see cars dropping off people in front of the theater. It was a little hard to see from so far away, but we easily spot Matthew Del Negro getting out of a car and towering over everybody and everything else. I leave the line to check out the red carpet, but I find it empty. I hear from one of the press people that Chris Messina just went inside (it must have been when he did the soundcheck), but that he’s coming back outside to do press. I wait for a while – no sign of Messina but I get a peek of Matt inside.
All of a sudden, Messina (and Jennifer Todd) comes out of the theater, but he doesn’t go to the red carpet (which is barricaded behind the press and a little hard to see anything as a mere mortal). Instead, he stands right outside the theater, among everyone, and greets people he knows. I’m standing literally 3 feet away from him, taking photos, along with a few other fans. I see him hugging his dad, and I hear someone talking about the afterparty, then realize it was Jennifer Todd, who, by the way is quite beautiful in person. I think she looks better in person than she does in photos. (I also noticed after looking through my photos that she wears a ring, and he does not.)
Chris Messina hugging Papa Messina
Jennifer Todd - note the wedding ring
So I’m taking photos, and at one point, he makes eye contact with me while standing mere inches away. I died a little inside, thinking that was going to be my Messina highlight of the night - I wasn’t going to approach him then, and rudely interrupt his conversations with his friends and family. But then, he starts talking to the fans around him, signing autographs and taking photos with them, so I jump at the chance.
He asks me if I got tickets to the screening, and I said yes and that I’m really looking forward to it. He thanks me for coming, asks me my name and shakes my hand – his hand is warm (it was pretty cold out and mine were freezing) and so, so soft that it surprised me. (His skin is “tender, like a veal.”) I ask someone to take a photo, and he puts his arm around me, so I seize the opportunity to put my hand on his back…teeheehee! The photo turned out a little blurry, so I apologize and ask if he would mind if we take another. Chris says, “No, not at all, “ and asks, “Should we just do it ourselves?” And this is how this epic selfie came out.
Before I lose him to someone else, congratulate him on the film, tell him how excited I am to see it, and that I’ve been following his work since Six Feet Under and that it’s been so great watching his career take off. He says, “Thank you so much,” then reaches out and rubs my arm. :faints:
Then I run like hell back to the line, and tell my friend to go talk to Messina before he goes on the red carpet. I couldn’t help but talk about Messina’s soft, soft hand, until I remember that his parents’ friends are still standing behind me, and I sound like a crazy person. I take my freak-out to twitter, and could not believe that he spent a solid 5 minutes or so talking to me. I didn’t see him when he went on the red carpet, but that experience was SO MUCH BETTER than trying to get a little peek of him in between photographers and interviewers.
Zoe Jarman waiting outside the theater
Inside the theater:
They start letting us into the theater, and we pass Matt Del Negro on our way inside, and see Beth Grant heading to the ladies’ room. Several rows in the middle were reserved, but actually not as many as I expected, so we get great seats right next to Zoe Jarman and her boyfriend and two rows in front of the reserved seats. I scan the room, and I see Ed Weeks looking for a seat in one of the reserved rows, and somehow finding it difficult to find/settle on where to sit. My friend had gone to the restroom, and on the way back, she saw Zoe and Ed greet each other (“I didn’t know you were gonna be here!”).
I see Mindy enter the theater on the opposite side from me, talk to some people, then quickly take a seat. She seemed to have been keeping a low profile (although she did make an appearance on the red carpet). Matthew Del Negro stands a few rows behind me, chatting with one of the actors from the film. Then I see Max Greenfield and his smokin hot face talking to Paul Dano. He chats with people for a while, all smiles the whole time, then ends up sitting two rows directly behind me. I try not to act like a crazy creeper/hysterical fangirl. It almost hurts to look at him; he is so ridiculously hot.
Matthew Del Negro being tall and handsome
Blurry pic of Max Greenfield taking his seat 2 rows behind me
I see Messina walk in, talk to some friends and family, including his mom and dad, and he’s all smiles. He looked so happy and excited.
Someone from Tribeca takes the podium and introduces Messina, saying that he’s been at Tribeca three times before as an actor, but this is his first time as a director. Messina runs up to the stage to introduce the film, and he thanks his producers for taking a chance on a first-time filmmaker. He says everyone listed in the credits took a chance and a leap of faith and put their heart into it.
The film itself is really beautiful. I really loved it, more than I expected. The synopsis does not do it justice. I kind of expected a typical, somewhat trite indie movie storyline, in which a super type-A, workaholic woman realizes the important things in life when her husband leaves her. That wasn’t it at all. I don’t want to give too much away, but the story and the script were very subtle, understated and true to life. It felt very real to me, and a lot of it – particularly the way they treated the couple’s split – really resonated with me.
The acting was phenomenal, the score was perfect. You can really tell that the film was a labor of love. The film was very much Messina through and through – sensitive, carefully observed, and powerful in a quiet way.
There are a lot of things that the TMP/Messina fandom will love in the film, too – Beth Grant has a small part and so does Danny’s Staten friend, Stevie. Will McCormack and Matthew Del Negro are in, too. There’s one part with Messina and technology that cracked me up. He’s also in it more than I expected – he was in four scenes, not two as previously reported, which was a nice surprise.
Messina thanked everyone in the credits, including his wife, his kids and his parents. Awww. :)
Q and A:
There was a Q&A afterwards, and Messina called up anyone and everyone that had to do with the film to acknowledge them. There was even one actress who had a very tiny (nonspeaking) part who he called up to the stage. He’s so incredibly nice.
First, it was the guy from Tribeca complimenting the film asking questions. Messina really took the lead in responding to questions, then asking his writers, producers and actors to add to what he said. He wasn’t at all awkward and shy like he was at Paley – he was very much in his element, talking about his passion project. You can tell that he was born to do this, and I thought his leadership really shone through – he was confident and self-assured, but also let his cast and crew take the spotlight. He was all smiles during the Q&A, and my friend thought that she saw him tear up as well – my vision sucks, but I believe it.
Some of the things that came out of the Q&A:
- Messina thought that he knew what all the various departments involved with a film did, but this was a real teaching experience.
- As an actor, he’s able to be indulgent and get lost in what he’s doing, but as a director, he’s watching everything. They would do straight 27-minute takes, and he would feel bad for the guy holding the boom, which is what he’s gesturing here:
- Someone in the audience asked why Messina decided to cast himself in the film. He responded that he did think about casting another actor and not being in the film at all. The writers said that they knew that they wanted Chris to play George, and Katie Nehra said that going back to 5 years ago as she was working on an early draft of the script, that she wrote down that Chris Messina will play George and her wish came true. J
- The cast and crew gave Messina lots of kudos for being a great leader. They also said that he’s so nice, that he wanted to cast everyone and not turn any actor who auditioned away.
- Messina was very insistent in getting Don Johnson, who was hesitant at first to do any sort of project. Don Johnson was convinced after meeting with Chris a few times, and seeing how much passion he has for the project.
- I was surprised at how little Mary Elizabeth Winstead spoke during the Q&A.
I raised my hand during the Q&A – originally, I had wanted to ask Messina what he learned in his first experience directing, but they had already addressed that. So instead, I gave them props for how they portrayed the couple’s relationship and breakup, how it felt very honest and true to life, and asked if that was always the story they wanted to tell, since they previously talked about some of the changes that the script had gone through over time. The writers talked about how they had debated the ending, and how they ended up with the final story.
Meeting Ed Weeks outside the theater:
We stand by the exit as people made their way out of the theater, hoping to bump into Mindy, but she must have exited through the front and went right to the afterparty. Paul Dano and Glenn Close passed by right next to us, though, as they were existing the theater.
Outside, we see Ed Weeks talking to some people, and we struggle for a few minutes to approach him without rudely taking him away from his conversation. I got my window of opportunity and jumped on the chance. I apologized for bothering him, but that I just wanted to say how much I love him on the show. He asks us for our names, introduces himself (“I’m Ed”…um, yes, we know that) and extends out his hand for a handshake. He asked if we saw the film and if we liked said, and he said that he loved it and that it’s “very Messina.” We congratulated him on season 3, and thanked him for being so cool to us on twitter. He said he loves all the live viewings and trending on twitter and the “sassy” and all. Then we took photos, then he went off to the afterparty. He was so incredibly nice.
Matthew Del Negro is standing a few feet away from us, and I want to say hi but didn’t know what to say, since I only know him from his association with Messina and his Funny or Die video. We walk away and he passes by us a few times, but we don’t end up talking to him. We go back into the theater for the restroom and see that Messina is still inside talking to people, looking like he’s radiating with happiness. We linger for a minute before finally leaving because we didn’t want to be too crazy stalkerish.
That’s it! It was a truly magical night. I still cannot believe that I got to be there for Chris Messina’s big night. All night long, I kept saying, Is this real? WHAT IS THIS LIFE??
By the way, I am seeing the movie again next weekend, because my friend who wanted to see it wasn’t able to get tickets to premiere night. I don’t know if Messina will be there again (doubtful, I think), but I’m looking forward to watching the film again.