Story Time: Paper Towns NYC Premiere!

When I woke this morning, my plans for the day involved going to work, maybe hitting a museum in the afternoon. You know. The usual.

Then I saw John Green had posted his Tuesday Vlogbrothers video. And in the video he mentioned that today was the big, fancy New York premiere of the film adaptation of Paper Towns.

Um. What.

A google search revealed they would be handing out wristbands to fans to get onto the red carpet, then afterward to get to attend the movie. But people had already been lining up for a couple hours when I saw all of this around seven, and I was supposed to be at work until one.

Ugh. So close, but oh well. I got ready for work and started the long walk to my subway station.

However, I was still thinking about the premiere. My boss is really awesome and had said I could take days off whenever I needed to. The question was less of whether or not he’d let me take the day off if I called, as much as if this would be a legitimate thing to take a day off work for.

I trudged another block closer to the subway. Pulled out my phone to call. Put it away. Took another few steps.

It came down to the fact that yes, there are plenty of movie premieres (I mean, I literally just stumbled across the one for Pixels last weekend). There would definitely be more I could attend in the future. But Paper Towns is one of my favorite books, and I adore John and Nat and Cara, and I’m only in New York for two months.

I texted a friend for help and she tipped me over the edge: At the very least, I needed to ask if I could do it.

So I called my boss, and of course he gave me the day off (because, as mentioned, he’s amazing), and off I went to get in line. (Slowly. Because said friend, who gave me the amazing advice of taking a risk and going to the premiere, also gave me the horrible advice of taking an Uber during rush hour instead of the train. I guess we can’t win ’em all.)

Finally, a little after ten, I arrived at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater and got in line as number 246. A representative from Fox–the guy running the premiere–came by a little later to tell us that at that number, we were guaranteed to get onto the red carpet, although we were too far back in line for the movie. (No big deal.)

Everyone celebrated. They were supposed to hand out wristbands at eleven forty, so it was only a couple hours more, then we’d have a few free hours, then the premiere. IT WAS SO EXCITING.

Except, of course, that then everything fell apart.

People cut in line ahead of us. The people running the premiere ran out of wristbands because they hadn’t ordered enough for the three hundred people they’d promised to let in. (What even?) And, apparently unable to handle it all, the Fox rep left to “take a nap.”

The day dragged on, hot and muggy. Suddenly it was one PM, then two, then three. I needed to pee really bad. Pigeons lined along the edges of the buildings, apparently for the sole purpose of pooping on all the people stuck in the line below them. The fans who’d gotten wristbands paraded them past the couple hundred of us still stuck in line.

However, in the midst of this, some really awesome things happened that made the wait worthwhile. A woman working on the premiere came by with free water bottles for all of us (not that we could drink them, since it was so tricky to get to a bathroom, but still); I still managed to get all of the work I would have done at the office done, since I’d ended up with my laptop with me.

And more than anything, what made the all-day wait bearable was hanging out with the five girls in line around me.

Of the six of us, only two knew one another at the beginning of the day. But throughout the hours of harassing the security guards, complaining about the wristband shortage, and of course obsessing over Cara Delevingne’s eyebrows, we got to know one another.

When they finally brought out more wristbands around three thirty (they secretly had them the entire time, the jerks), we cheered and freaked out together like we’d known one another for years.


When they started splitting people into smaller groups to bring onto the red carpet, we refused to let them split us up. 

And we ended up meeting John, and Cara, and everyone else together.

John was super nice and took the time to sign absolutely everyone’s posters. So awesome.

Alex Wolff made eye contact with me and nothing will ever be the same.

A bunch of random celebrities showed up, including a certain couple models and, of all people, the freaking Property Brothers(!!).

We didn’t get to meet Nat, but the guy hosting the event did let him know we all wanted to go swimming with him, so there’s that.

CARA.

All six of us managed to get autographs from Cara and she even said hello to two of the girls. She’s so beautiful and amazing. I can’t. Oh my gosh.

The premiere was totally worth all the hours waiting in the heat, and I can’t wait to see the movie this weekend.
It’s funny how you can start out strangers at the beginning of the day and be friends by the end of it. And how something like making the mistake of taking an Uber instead of the subway can turn out not to be a mistake at all.

~Julia

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Story Time: BEA/BookCon 2015! (Part 2/3)

Here we go! Part II of our crazy bookish weekend.

(A reminder that I’m splitting the recap of BEA/BookCon 2015 into three parts, corresponding with the days of the events we attended. You can read Part I–about Friday of BEA–here.) (Also a reminder that all of these posts are going to be long enough to make your brain bleed, so read at your own risk.)

BookCon 2015 expanded from last year’s event by spanning both Saturday and Sunday. They also expanded by selling more than twice as many tickets as last year, so EIGHTEEN. THOUSAND. PEOPLE. came to BookCon this year.

Take a minute to wrap your mind around that: Eighteen thousand people. Came to an event. About books. (Excuse me while I go into heart palpitations of joy.)

I was wary of attending BookCon this year, because I honestly had a, well, not great experience at it in 2014. (“Not great” might be sugarcoating it too much, actually. It was terrible.) However, there was a glimmer of potential in 2014’s Land of Poorly Organized Chaos, so I was willing to give it a second shot this year. (But with a VIP ticket this time.)

Before I go on, I want to preface this all by saying that I had an amazing time at BookCon this year. It so, so blew my expectations out of the water and I can’t wait to go again (no VIP ticket necessary).

However, the beginning of BookCon on Saturday was arguably worse than last year.

The BookCon website boasted that VIP attendees would have an exclusive, separate line to get into the show in the morning. So, with this in mind, we decided to sleep in a bit after the long day at BEA and didn’t leave our hotel until about an hour before the show floor was supposed to open.

Like Friday, we grabbed our empty suitcase and headed to the shuttle stop nearest our hotel. Then we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And, you guessed it: The shuttle never showed up.

Last year, BEA was still going on during BookCon, so we’d been able to take the shuttle to and from BookCon. For some reason, we’d just assumed the shuttle would still be running for BookCon this year.

After about fifteen minutes of waiting at the stop, we realized no such luck.

Which meant we had to walk to the Javits Center.

Not a huge deal. Oh well. We grabbed some quick breakfast sandwiches at a Dunkin’ Donuts we passed and finished the mile+ long trek in not too much time. It shouldn’t have been a problem.

Except, of course, that it turns out that the wording on the BookCon website was misleading and there actually wasn’t a separate line for VIP ticket holders to get into the show. Only to get into the show floor. Which meant when we arrived at Javits, after having several different harried security people tell us to go different places to get into the building, we finally found ourselves, once again, over a mile away–this time at the end of the general line to enter the Javits Center.

I’ll repeat that: Over. A mile. Away.

People had been lining up since 4:00 AM to get in. Again, eighteen thousand people attended BookCon and most of them were there on Saturday.

It was hot. It was humid. And after paying so much extra for the VIP tickets, my mom and I were pissed.

It’s not that I felt like we deserved special treatment or anything, believe me. It was that BookCon had told us something would be there, then it wasn’t.

At one point, when we finally got close to the doors, a few women tried cutting into line a little ways behind me and I turned around and full out yelled at them. (You should know: I’m not a confrontational person. I tried slapping a friend once for a rude remark–he’d asked me to as a means of getting him to stop making them–and I ended up just gently patting his cheek because I cannot physically hurt people.)

When we did finally get into the Javits Center, VIP attendees were supposed to get a special BookCon tote bag full of books, but none of the staff members near the entrance knew anything about them. Later we found out that they’d ended up giving a bunch of them away to random non-VIP attendees because the staff didn’t understand the VIP people had paid extra for those bags.

Yeah. It was fun.

The first thing I did upon finally getting into the Javits Center was find Hannah’s family in the line for the official BookCon bookstore (located in what had been BEA’s shipping cavern), because we’d picked up coffee for her grandmother while at Dunkin’.

I thought 2014 had been chaos? No. Chaos was that football field-sized room.

To the left of the doors were the lines to get wristbands for the Special Events Hall panels, flooded with people already lined up to see John Green and Co. at the end of the day. At the far end of the room and stretching almost all the way back to the doors were the autographing lines, at that point fairly empty but already buzzing with activity as people gathered around the white boards near them to figure out which authors were signing when. And finally, to the right of the doors, was the nightmare that was the line for the bookstore.

It was a mob. You couldn’t tell where one curve of the line ended and the next began. I waded through the exasperated, shouting masses and practically had to toss the coffee at Hannah’s outstretched hand.

I managed to squeeze my way back out alive and took a second to catch my breath. Then I got out of that room as quickly as possible.

However, that was the end of the bad part of BookCon.

And I heard that they got straight onto fixing the mess in the cavern, so the chaos died down within a couple hours. And, spoiler: When we arrived on Sunday, they’d figured out how to handle the line into the building well enough that it was, get this, nonexistent (more on that in the next post).

So, say goodbye to Complain-y Julia and hello to “OMG I HAD SUCH A GOOD TIME” Julia.

Part I of Saturday: Show Floor and Signings

The first thing I did once the mess was over was find the Wreck This Journal event Random Penguin was hosting. There I added Ch1Con to the life-size Wreck This Journal they were putting together, got my first tote bag of the day, and met up with blog reader Rachel for some freaking out and picture-taking.

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From there, Madre and I headed to the other end of the Random Penguin area to meet one of my favorite authors from when I was growing up: Norton Juster(!!!)

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He was funny and kind and I kind of want him to be my grandfather.

After that, we grabbed tickets for Macmillan’s One Book panel (detailing the publishing process from start to finish, following one book), then split up to wander. I grabbed some more free stuff, met a random debut author whose in-booth signing line I accidentally found myself in, and pet the Menswear Dog. We attended the One Book panel together, got ARCs of the book signed, then split up again.

This time Madre went to stash all the free stuff so far that day in the suitcase while I went to check on Hannah’s family, once again trapped in the bookstore line. I was planning on hitting some signings in the autographing area at that point, but pretty much every signing for the rest of the day had already maxed out. So, instead, I found my way back up to the show floor, where I grabbed a ticket for Carrie Ryan’s in-booth signing, then attended the Inside the Recording Studio panel on making audiobooks.

The Inside the Recording Studio panel was super cool, in large part due to the fact that a couple of the people on it worked on the Harry Potter audiobooks. They talked about how they originally weren’t going to make American audiobooks for the series, but then someone high up at Scholastic decided that the original British narrator was (get this) “too British,” so they got Jim Dale instead. And now he has a Grammy for it. So, like, that happened.

After that was the Carrie Ryan signing, which was very cool.

Part II: Movie Panels Galore

I love movies almost as much as I love books, so I spent my afternoon going to lots of film adaptation-themed panels.

First was the Me and Earl and the Dying Girl panel, featuring:

  • Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (director)
  • Jesse Andrews (author and screenwriter)
  • Thomas Mann (Greg, aka “Me”)
  • Olivia Cooke (Rachel, aka “Dying Girl”)

I haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, but my screenwriting class did study the first act of the screenplay a few weeks ago, so it was amazing to get to learn about the process of adapting the story and all that. (Also, if you ever have the chance to read the screenplay for Me and Earl, do it. Do it now. It’s freaking hilarious.)

The way the Me and Earl adaptation came about is also a really cool story. Author Jesse Andrews imagined his own childhood home and high school while writing the novel and screenplay, and that came through so much in the writing that they realized they couldn’t shoot the movie anywhere else. So they got his parents (who still live in the house in which he grew up) to lend them his bedroom, and they got permission to fix up parts of the old high school (which had already been approved for demolition at that point) to film the school scenes.

They laughed about how Jesse’s mom would make all the crew breakfast down in the kitchen while they filmed scenes upstairs in Jesse’s bedroom, and like–how awesome is that?

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After the panel, everyone rushed the stage to get books signed. I managed to get close enough for awkward stalker shots of the actors.

After the Me and Earl panel, my mom and I went and checked out the VIP lounge, spent some time trying to locate our VIP tote bags (still to no avail), then stopped by the Rotten Tomatoes panel. (It was as hilarious and insightful as should be assumed.)

Then came the main event: the Paper Towns panel.

Speaking on the panel were:

  • Kathleen Heaney (moderator)
  • John Green (author)
  • Justice Smith (Radar)
  • Nat Wolff (Q)
  • Michael H. Weber (screenwriter)
  • Ryan Lott (composer)

People had been lining up for it all day, because despite the fact they all already had wristbands guaranteeing they’d get in, everyone still wanted to get as good of a seat as possible. Since we had VIP passes, we just had to show up a half hour early and were guaranteed admission (thank God).

The moment the doors opened to the VIP line, we all sprinted for the front of the Special Events Hall. Hannah and I ended up grabbing seats for our group in the second row, stage right. Which meant our view was this:

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Teeny tiny complaint about the lack of women on the panel. I’d assumed when they announced who’d be on it that they’d asked the female stars of the film to be on the panel, and they’d just turned it down for whatever reason. From the sounds of it, that wasn’t the case. Disappointing, BookCon. (But also: OMG JOHN GREEN AND NAT WOLFF.)

Our seats also meant that when it came time for the audience Q&A, we were right next to the microphone, so Nat Wolff and John Green and all of them looked right at us as they listened to people’s questions. Which was, you know, all right.

They showed us the new trailer that was going to premiere during Pretty Little Liars later that week, spent a ton of time having to explain inside jokes and on-set antidotes to us (like the time Nat and Justice got themselves kicked out of their apartment complex from shooting down a light that was annoying John with BB guns), and confirmed that John’s cameo made the final cut of the film.

This was news not only to us, but John himself, and he positively FREAKED. OUT. when he realized he was going to be in the movie. It was hilarious. Such a good panel.

It ended up running over (although the staff didn’t let it go as long as they did the Fault in Our Stars panel last year), and they jokingly had all of the people waiting in line at the microphones shout their questions at once, then gave out random answers (“Yes! No! Only on Sundays!”). But even then the audience got really upset (in a scary way) when they realized it was over. Hundreds of people rushed the stage and security ended up having to escort the panelists off while BookCon tried to sedate the mob by playing the new trailer again.

Now compare that reaction to what’s been going on with John Green the past couple weeks. Fame is scary.

Part III: Something Rotten (Is Ridiculously Good)

After the Paper Towns panel, my mom and I temporarily said goodbye to Hannah’s family while they grabbed a taxi and we grabbed our now full suitcase from the luggage check. Then we half-walked, half-ran with it all the way back to the hotel. Because we all had tickets to see Something Rotten. And it was starting in a half hour.

Luckily, Madre and I managed to dropped off our stuff at the hotel and get into the theater just before the lights went down, but it was a stressful thirty minutes (especially because I was starving by then).

Something Rotten was AMAZING. I haven’t laughed that hard at a show since Book of Mormon and I highly recommend it if you’re in NYC. (“A Musical” is my favorite number to come out of a Broadway show possibly ever. SO GOOD.)

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After the show, we parted ways with Hannah’s family again. My mom and I wandered into the Theatre Circle gift shop because she’d never been and ogled all the Broadway paraphernalia, then finally, FINALLY went to John’s Pizza for dinner.

After an entire day of standing and carrying around a billion books, on minimal sleep, with only a 240 calorie “healthy” breakfast sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts in my stomach, you had better believe I was ready to eat that entire restaurant Hansel and Gretel-style when we walked in at eleven PM.

Madre is much healthier than I am, so she ordered grilled vegetables. I ordered mozzarella sticks and pizza and gorged on both of them until I dozed off at the table.

From there, it was back to the hotel, where we packed to go home and finally dropped off to sleep.

And that was the end of Day 2!

Congratulations, if you survived this entire post. Part 3 (Sunday of BookCon) will be coming soon!

~Julia