Last weekend was one of the most surreal weekends of my life.
Austin held it’s first Austin Television Festival. I read about it online a few months earlier and reached out to the organizers to see if they were in need of a photographer. The stars aligned! My two passions collided and combined and I found myself surrounded by people that want to talk about TV at length and I was able to take pictures of people I love. I mean, crazy.
The Friday night found me photographing the opening night “Industry” party. This is where I start name dropping. I was sitting outside waiting for the night to begin and there were only 2 others sitting behind me at another table. The voice sounded familiar and as I turned around to check if it was Judy Greer I realized.. it was. I’m of the notion that if you love someone, you tell them, so I yelled to her that I loved her. She then invited me over to her table and we talked and she was flipping lovely and so was her husband. By the end of the night, she had asked for my number. The next day, she texted me to see what my plans were. Seriously. The power of being friendly to strangers will never not surprise me.
Shortly after, I met Mae Whitman (Parenthood, also Arrested Development) and regaled her with the story of how we had met 6 years earlier on South Congress. She was so lovely and just.. it was cool for me. She performed with her boyfriend, Landon Pigg, and it was so cute and intimate and awesome.
I made a friend with a volunteer, Michael, and he told me that my camera must have special powers because of how many friends I was making. It sounds like I’m patting my own back and.. I sort of am. I went away for a weekend by myself and ended up making friends and having lots of conversations. If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d do something like that, I would have thought you were crazy.
Met Jason Ritter. Think I was probably creepy because of how much I love him on Parenthood. Children’s Hospital people were there and hilarious. Cougartown/Scrubs people were lovely. SO MUCH FUN! I put down my camera after a few hours and spent the rest of the evening until the early hours just a schmoozing. “The Todd” from Scrubs pulled me by my hips on to his lap for a picture, then pushed me off. Bizarre. I had conversations with the creators of “Awake” and “The Unusuals” with out even knowing it. Michael B. Jordan asked me if, and I quote, I “like black clubs” and wanted to go to one.
The next morning, I woke up after.. little sleep and edited the pictures from the night before. Then from 9am-5pm, I took pictures at panels. Scott Wolf introduced a new anime he’s a part of. I saw some serious sci-fi writers (Jane Espenson, Ben Edlund, Jose Molina, Richard Hatem) then ran to see some serious creators (Kevin Biegel, Liz Tigelaar, Mark Schwahn, Noah Hawley, Kyle Killen). Then it was time for one of my most anticipated moments, a Friday Night Lights reunion. Holy crap. Jason Katims, Michael B. Jordan, Alicia Witt, Scott Porter, Gaius Charles (Smash), Louanne Stephens (Grandma Saracen), Matt Lauria.. I almost exploded. I was at the very front and center for everything since I was photographing and it was a little unreal being so close to my favorite show of all time. They were all so humble and grateful for their experience on the show and I’m not going to play it cool, I was tearing up behind my camera.
From there, I took off to the Children’s Hospital/NTSF:SD:SUV:: panel. Instead of answering questions and doing.. what every other panel did, they just took over the stage and went crazy. Ken Marino was especially hilarious but they all had me laughing until I was crying with general absurdity. Rob Cordry, Paul Scheer, Erin Hayes, David Wain, etc. etc. At this point I should mention that it was about 3PM and everyone was hung over/already drunk. Just crazy.
Ran from laughing my butt off to a TBS panel with Cougartown people (Bill Lawrence, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt) and from a new show, Sullivan and Sons. After two seconds I realized that I was taking pictures of Peter Billingsley aka Ralphie from a Christmas Story. Woa. After the panel, I took a little breather in the bar and found myself in a circle, two seats away from Ralphie. These are the moments where I was texting Taylor how weird my life was. It was also at this point that I got invited to go to dinner with Cougartown/Scrubs people. More on that in a second.
Photographed a Bill Lawrence and friends panel. I don’t think I ever blogged about it, but back in January I went to a Cougartown event and talked with Kevin Biegel (co-creator) and Ian Gomez (Javier from Felicity!!) and “made friends”. Or made friends enough to have them remember me. So after this panel, I went to dinner with.. (namedropping) Bill Lawrence, Ian Gomez, Brian Van Holt, Kevin Biegel, and Neil Flynn (the janitor from Scrubs). So the five of them plus me. Hello. Do you understand this? I don’t even understand it. We went to Uchico which is where the most recent winner of Top Chef is the head chef. I ate everything that was put in front of me and could not tell you what any of it was. I tried to play it cool and not geek out at what an unusual experience I was having, trying to keep it internal. But really.
Really. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT!!!!!!!!! A moment. Stayed out too late. Had so much fun. So weird.
The next morning, I was eating breakfast by my lonesome when Jason Katims walks in to the room and sits at my table. I was a little starstruck several times during the weekend but for some reason, Jason Katims made me unable to really speak. Mind you, I was already running on very little sleep but I could not figure out how to be a real person to him. He was super lovely and low key and A MAD GENIUS but I managed to tell him how Parenthood and Friday Night Lights are my two favorite shows of all time. Gosh. I was probably ridiculous. I excused myself after a little while but saw him again shortly in his panel. Can I say so surreal again? SO SURREAL.
Photographed his panel. Photographed an actor’s panel. Photographed actors playing music. Photographed a Parenthood Panel. Exhaustion.
By the time I got home on Sunday, I was so overwhelmed by my weekend and my lack of sleep and my experience that all I could do when I tried to tell Taylor about it was CRY. JUST WEEP.
So, that happened.