First of all let me say this is my first official blog post I'm doing on my own. Yay! I've been a bit slow to the game here, but I'll try to make up for it with quality. My iRex (a new term I have coin for my obsolete iMac computer from 2002) has been freezing up on me and making computer time distinctly more frustrating. I'm currently on a friend's borrowed laptop so I can satisfy the pleas of Alison and Kim to post my Water For Elephants set stalking adventures. Here goes...
I've been to the sets in Fillmore and Piru twice. While it was fun to look and say I was there, I can't say there was much to report. First visit on June 10th there was absolutely nothing happening in Piru where the big top tents are located. As most of you probably have heard by now, the road behind is a long distance from them and there is an artichoke field in between. To give some perspective, the paparazzi are using 800 lenses when taking photographs so the average girl like me with a typical point and shoot digital camera can't capture anything worth taking. Still, it was fun to see the tents.
Fillmore was a bit closer for viewing the trains with but there wasn't any filming when we first scoped it out in the morning. When we returning in the afternoon there was definite filming activity but now there were police cars blocking the street so we couldn't get close enough to actually see the action. While I may enjoy set stalking and seeing where movies are being made, I draw the line at doing anything that will harm me, someone else or get me arrested. So if you are looking for tales of hiding in orchards or crawling through the artichoke field to catch a glimpse of Rob, I'm afraid you will be disappointed in my stories.
Next visit was on June 29th. This time I was at the Piru location from 11:30 am until 8:30 pm. While there was lots of filming going on inside the tents and we were reading all about it on Twitter, we couldn't see a thing. We were hoping to see the scene Rob films on top of a train outside as it was scheduled to film that day but it was pushed back and we waited all day only to be disappointed. The most exciting thing we saw was some horses and a some good views of Rosie, with a big lens of course. Naked eye could see them in the distance, but not well.
After my two less than fruitful treks to Piru, I jumped at the chance to set stalk closer to home. One July 1st and 2nd the production moved to downtown Los Angeles. This was really convenient for me because I happen to live in downtown Los Angeles. Score! Filming was happening at the Alexandria hotel on the southwest corner of 5th and Spring streets. This is in the Historic Core section of downtown. For anyone not familiar with the area, until the past few years it was an area that you really wouldn't want to be in, let alone where you would expect to find one of the hottest stars on the planet filming a movie. Old hotels like this and others in the area were home mostly to drugs addicts, prostitutes, extremely low incomes, and generally magnets for trouble. Flash forward to 2010 and the area has transformed. While still an urban center, it is no longer the scary place it used to be. Last year Ilan Hall, winner of season 2 of Top Chef, opened his restaurant Gorbals on the ground floor of the Alexandria. I give the background in case anyone is interested in the area and comes to check it out post filming.
Call time for day one was 9:00 am but since I knew a main scene they were filming was a night time speakeasy raid, I didn't head over until 4:00 pm. I got to the area and bounced between the hotel and base camp less than a block away. There were about 6 photographers there an a dozen or so fans mingling about. There was a black Ford Edge that was shuttling Rob between the hotel and base camp. The hotel has underground parking so I couldn't see anything there. He had been spotted briefly outside much earlier in the day when he first got to set, but not after I arrived. The only opportunities to get a vague glimpse of Rob or Reese was at base camp. However crew had parked a couple of vehicles strategically to block the view of the entrance to his trailer. The car would drop him off and pick him up right at the door and you could only see the slightest angle of him as he jumped from one to the other. Reese was a bit better since her trailer was closer to the entrance and not quite as blocked, but it wasn't much of an improvement. Her windows were tinted dark but we were able to see that see waved back once or twice when fans waved to her. Rob's car windows were completely blacked out and you could not see a thing. The slivers of the side of Rob passed in and out of view so fast I couldn't even get a shot. Paparazzi captured a few but weren't able to get the full body shots they were after. The best shots they got were from balconies of surrounding buildings and such. I left a bit disappointed, but determined to come back the next day.
Friday I returned to base camp just before the 1:00 pm call time. Rob had already been on set for about an hour and had been photographed by the paparazzi in his gray hoodie. Day two played out much like day one, except the views coming in and out the trailer seemed even more limited. I honestly didn't get one good partial glimpse all day. There were many more people there as word had spread on the internet. We were up to about 12-15 photographers and at least 3 dozen fans at the start. As the day wore on, fans and photographs started to give up and leave. By nightfall any remaining paparazzi had all moved down to set to try and get shots of the outdoor scene being filmed in a well blocked alley. For the average fan such a myself, there was no point in attempting this because you couldn't see a thing. They alley is at the back of a parking lot behind the hotel. It is a place even the crew members I spoke with did not want to go. It was cleaned up for filming of course, but still not a pretty place. Paparazzi with long lens managed some shots that hit the internet, but I decided to keep my spot outside base camp. My friends and I were talking to crew members, security, police, etc. all evening. Everyone was quite nice to us. Chatting with them helped pass the time and distract us from how cold we were getting as the temperature dropped from the pleasant afternoon sunshine to a rather cool summer evening.
As the earlier morning hours set in, we really struggling. Part of us wanted to leave and go home to our warm beds. My friend and her niece visiting from New York had to drive back to Del Mar. They had been out the night before and returned for round two. For those who do not know, Del Mar to Los Angeles is almost a 2 hour drive each way. We were tired and cold. Our little group of 4 huddled together to keep moving and stay warm. Each hour seem to pass slower than the last. Should we stay or should we go? Almost everyone on set was encouraging us to leave, telling us it was pointless and Rob wasn't going to stop. I rationalized that if he stopped, it would only be at the end of the day when he was done working. They were permitted and scheduled to go until 6:00 am. Crew was hoping to wrap by 2:30 or 3:00, but that wasn't happening.
Finally around 3:30 am or so, filming wrapped and Rob and Reese returned to base camp for the last time. Reese left in her Escalade around 3:45 am. She was looking down at her phone as the vehicle pulled out of the lot and did not wave or stop to talk to us. A little disappointing, but in all fairness she probably assumed were weren't that interested in her and only wanted to see Rob.
Just before 4:00 am 4 more fans showed up hoping to see Rob. That doubled the size of our little group and made me nervous. The small the group, the better our chances of him stopping to say hi to us. After waiting there over 13 hours, I really didn't want them to blow it for us. After only 10 minutes or less, Rob and his bodyguard Dean approached the group. He was back in the gray hoodie. For only the second time on this production(as far as I know and from what I've heard), he stopped to take pictures and talk to fans. He did not talk much as he was tired. He had been there for over 14 hours at this point. He was very nice and took photos with everyone. He apologized to me since two friends where taking the picture and he didn't know which way to look. This is reflected in my photos as he isn't looking at the camera for either one. He was a bit confused. I wanted to try another take, but Dean was pulling him back once everyone had gotten a shot. I didn't want to be greedy. Neither one was perfect, but I wasn't going to complain. I had just met and taken two photos with Robert Pattinson! The whole thing lasted maybe 3 minutes. It was very quick as these things always are. But mission accomplished! All the hours paid off in the end and we got to to see Rob. Now I just have to wait for the movie to wrap and be released so I can see the sets and Rob on the big screen.