The World Premiere of Sellebrity was last night at the SXSW film festival in Austin, TX. The documentary centers around the two sides of the paparazzi- the photographers and the consumers. Through interviews with stars like Jennifer Aniston, Elton Jon, Selma Hayek, Kid Rock, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Antony, the film describes the actors' frustrations with the professional paparazzi and every other person with a cell phone camera. The actors all acknowledge that their profession requires some degree of photos to tell the story of their lives and careers but that the paparazzi take it too far by photographing them at home, invade their personal space, chasing them dangerously in cars, and attacking their children. They use examples of the Britney Spears meltdown, the death of Princess Diana, the break up of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, and the stalking of little baby Siri.
The movie points out that in capitalist America, we the consumer, drive such recklessness and have a duty to change the moral outlook of this country based around our buying habits. The Paparazzi only attacks celebrity's and hunts them because they can make a lot of money from those pictures. They make a lot of money from the magazines who are willing to pay large sums to get that picture in their magazine. They do this because the American consumer eats it up and will buy it every month or every other week to find out what America's royalty are doing now. If the American consumer stops supporting such reckless behavior, then the magazines will learn that these shots are not what will sell their magazine anymore. Thus stopping the support of the paparazzi and their dangerous and annoying methods.
The film does an excellent job of staying neutral. In addition to having magazine editors interviewed, they also have some of the most aggressive paparazzi members interviewed to understand their point. They are here to make money and make a living. In a capitalist society, value is determined by how much money someone will pay for your product. These guys have a sought after product and therefore they sell it.
The Q&A afterwards was almost as interesting as the movie. The world premiere brought the director, producer (whom we sat next to and accidentally called out her mom for recording the movie on her I-Phone!), the primary interviewer, the main paparazzi who was interviewed, and Italian who is considered the oldest Paparazzi alive. The discussion was very interesting as people started to ask what the solution should be (we don't know), what was the point of the film if they did not explicitly call for the end of the paparazzi (to start a conversation- get people thinking about their power and influence as a consumer), questions about total footage (well over 80 hours paparazzi footage alone), and the interviews (Jennifer and J-Lo gave hours of their time whereas Elton John ran late and then only had 5 minutes before his party started!). The Q&A really got interesting when an audience member called out the director for just blaming the American consumer (clearly she reads these magazines and has a guilty consciences). The movie never directly blames the consumer for anything but says that the consumer plays their part just as the paparazzi plays their part. Everyone has a part to play, but the great thing about consumerism is that we can use our democracy and freedom to boycott any action or product we do not agree with. This is a unique power and something fairly new.
I really enjoyed this movie and the Q&A. The movie had a quick pace to it that kept you interested the full 89 minutes. It had a great message but allowed us to determine what we do with that message. It was not judgmental or one-sided but created an atmosphere for an honest discussion about how do we protect privacy or do we simply think these people shouldn't have privacy. I would definitely recommend seeing this. At this point we don't know if it will get picked up and have a limited release in theaters, but I think this would fit well in an E! channel lineup!
There is not a movie poster or images from the movie unfortunately- the image above is from: http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/images/film/sellebrity/w448/sellebrity.jpg?1329680604