“Are you, Tink?”
I whipped around to see a pleasant man walk towards me while two others held back.
“Yeah! I’m Tink!” “Nice to meet you…I’m Andrew Tennenbaum.” *cue the hand shake while Tink’s permanent grin takes shape*
Who is Andrew Tennenbaum? He is one of the ‘Water For Elephants‘ producers who came out to greet me and make my day, week, month…infinite space of time. But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you know anything about me, its that I can’t cut corners on my storytelling. The uncut and rockin’ excellent set soldier adventure after the happy happy joy joy pic below.
Let’s go back a bit. I’ve had a desire to meet the behind-the-scenes folks of WFE for awhile. That desire stems from that fact that we are so involved with this film, you tend to want to meet the people that are creating, in your mind, excellence. You want to meet them and find some eloquent way to say “thank you”.
I haven’t been fortunate enough to be a true set soldier. My everyday responsibilities keep me from the intense soldiering done by WFE fans. The couple times I did make it to set I felt it would be impossible to meet a Francis or a Rodrigo or a Gil, etc etc. They don’t think people are really there for them. And in truth…we aren’t. See, WFE happens to have quite a popular guy as the lead character. He’s a bit of a draw. But I’ve been very blessed in the category of “Meet Robert Pattinson” and know I could have other opportunities to say, “You’re the best human to ever exist!”…er…I mean, “I really admire your work and support your career 110%.” I couldn’t, however, have other opportunities to tell the creative forces behind the lens, “You’re the best human to ever exist!”
A long vacation kept me from pursuing my goal and when I returned to LA, undisclosed locations got disclosed too late for me. WFE filming in LA was coming to an end…we knew it. From extras to tippers to Francis Lawrence himself…the train was pulling into the station and shutting down. I started to obsess over WFE freebies that I kept hearing folks were getting when they’d visit the last remaining sets. I wanted it too. I thought if I can get a tee shirt or a poster or whatever, I would meet one of those creative behind-the-scenes people.
I decided I was going crazy (crazier) and needed to let this go. It’s just not meant to be. Until Francis tweeted this:
Last day in Los Angeles… Nearing the end.
I lost hold of my already flimsy control and was determined to go to the set with my Team Rosie shirt, send out my good vibes, and await the arrival of my WFE freebie on a silver platter delivered by the entire cast and crew *delusional yet motivational*.
Oh but wait…I couldn’t go anywhere for hours. Those pesky, daily, responsibilities were in my way. So the clock ran down and my set soldier mojo diminished. Until a tip came in. I had one hour and I was finally free for the day. I busted a move to where I thought I needed to be and canceled my plans with my mother. It’s a good thing she’s use to my passionate nature. When I was talking to her, she asked why I was going crazy over a tee shirt or whatever. Wasn’t I writing on WFE with no expectations? I told her she was right but I had this feeling that I needed to pursue this.
I told her I’d ask her to wish me luck but if it’s meant to be, it will be….que sera, sera. She said encouragingly, “Exactly.”
Off I go to what I thought was the location and circling I go feeling crazier by the minute. I couldn’t find anyone, I couldn’t see anything and my tipper was MIA. Close to calling it a wrap on my failed attempt, I get word of the correct location. While I thought I needed to hang out in the back yard, I really was supposed to be in Timbuktu! Heading to Timbuktu in rush hour traffic really means I was trying to go to outer Mongolia via the 405 freeway. The clock showed I was well beyond the hour time frame I was given. Again, I accepted defeat and thought I’d pop into happy hour with my best friend.
Until Kinker Debb asked me this:
Will you regret going if you get there and they’re wrapping up? Or will you just be glad you went?
*cue the Jeopardy music* I should have known all along what I’d decide…
- Step one: cancel more plans. no happy hour for tink. thank god the bff accepts my passionate nature
- Step two: pull up Google maps
- Step three: groan at the horror that IS the 405 freeway at 6pm
- Step four: smile at your full gas tank
- Step five: floor it
During my lengthy drive to outer Mongolia, I got to thinking about what I would do if any opportunities arise. I don’t have the best reputation of coherency around those I admire. I either freeze on the spot or default systems kick into gear and save me from utter embarrassment. It’s a 50/50 thing. Not reliable. I wasn’t suppose to tell anyone what I was doing or where I was going but I knew I could NOT be alone otherwise there was a 50% chance I’d turn into a marble statue.
Luckily, my partner in crime, Cynthia, was on the way. I figured if she was home and ready to go, it was meant to be. Guess what! It was meant to be. She hopped in the unstoppable vehicle and we screeched back onto the highway. I make it to the set location and wouldn’t ya know! They are nowhere near wrapping things up
At this point, I have no plan. I don’t know if I should pick door #1 (hang with the set soldiers at an entrance) or pick door #2 (try and catch a glimpse of that guy who plays Jacob). You know what door I picked
Time clicks away, Cyn and I gossip about WFE gossip, we drool over sneak peeks of the pictures from the day, and eventually the sun sets. As I swat away one more mosquito, a stage door opens and a wet Rob walks through it. Oh my. Little did I know that spying wet Rob would be an important player in this excellent adventure.
Wet Rob evaporates and so do we. Hitting up the local dining, we make a stop to grab a bite. Meanwhile, I’m texting Kinker Jen because come on…I just saw Wet Rob. But honestly…if you trace my tweets, you’ll see my fingers were zipped. I wasn’t trying to cause chaos or anything. Rogue Reporter Tink was truly rogue and I thought it best to keep that to myself. But ya gotta love Kinker Jen…she texts me:
You want me to tweet that you are rogue right now for the final night of filming?
This is critical. My response triggered a chain of events that turned my adventure into excellence. Now normally, I would have replied:
Jen! You’re crazy…people can’t handle this knowledge. I’ll be attacked! Hibbits will hate us!
But…I went against the grain and replied:
I’ll leave it to u I saw him wet. I’m on a cloud.
Sure I tossed off the responsibility. I knew what Kinker Jen would do. But she’s got a great gut instinct that I’ve learned to trust. I left her to her tweeting ways and went to take a break. While hacking up a lung in the bathroom (I’ve been sick for weeks), I didn’t notice my cell phone vibrating, indicating incoming texts. I go back out to my table to eat and whip out my phone to check the texts…they were twitter notifications…notifications that went a little something like this:
H20forElephants: Kinker Tink is a rogue tonight at the last day of LA filming of#WFE. And she has spied one WET Robowski.
Hibbits: @H2OforElephants shooting Jacob on the roof of the train right now… In the rain and with a knife. Last scene before we wrap in LA.
*Kinker Tink rubbed her eyes and read her cell phone again* Next a text from Kinker Jen who was manning the twitter:
I tweeted wet robowski and hobbits repliedd!!!!!
Yes that’s what she typed and yes I understood. I turned into a complete spazz. I was so tickled (understatement) that Francis Lawrence chimed into our utter nonsense about Rob and moisture. I no longer can eat. The excitement has stolen my will to nourish. We ditch that scene and head back to the set. Meanwhile, Kinker Jen is busy on the twitter but sends this key tweet that essentially sealed the deal in my eyes:
Jeez…desperate? I’m rogue. I’m desperate….I might as well be pathetic and drive my butt home but I’m not going to do that. What I am going to do is check this incoming text from Kinker Jen:
Hibbits is looking for you!!!!!!
Text messaging ceases. *dialing Kinker Jen* “Hello?” Kinker Tink: “What the f**k!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!!!!!”
So vulgar right? But what would you say in this situation? “Oh really? That’s nice.” I wasn’t on twitter at all…just the occasional “dying” tweet. I missed this whole exchange with Janette, Francis’ super fabulous assistant:
MissStep: @H2OforElephants we have something for kinker tink. Just need to know how to identify her.
H2OforElephants: @MissStep She’s a cute short lil mixed lady! she’s wearing a Team Rosie tee shirt and she’s heading over to the entrance to park :)))
And a Direct Message I just might frame:
MissStep: We have a present from francis and the producers for kinker tink. Can you tell me how to identify her?
I was a maniac. I’m always kind of fast on the road but this…this was frantic. Kinker Jen is on the phone with me while she’s tweeting Janette. I think I drove in circles for a minute, shouting, “WHERE DO I GO!!!” repetitively but I got myself in check (barely) and drove to the set entrance. I park the car, still on the phone with Jen, trying to communicate how she can tell Janette where I am when I hear:
“Are you, Tink?”
I whipped around to see a pleasant man walk towards me while two others held back.
“Yeah! I’m Tink!” “Nice to meet you…I’m Andrew Tennenbaum.” *cue the hand shake while Tink’s permanent grin takes shape* The other two people head over towards us. Introductions (with real names) are made and I meet Gil Netter, another WFE producer, and Janette, Francis’ super assistant, carrying some pretty spiffy Benzini shirts. Now I’m not going to be able to recap this perfectly. After introductions, I started to float far far away and it was only my friend, Cyn, who kept me close enough to earth to carry on a conversation. We chatted for about 10 minutes and it was really a battle of who is the most appreciative. A general idea of what I mean:
Tink: Thank you SO much
Andrew: No thank YOU guys. It’s amazing how supportive you are.
Tink: No YOU guys are amazing.
Gil: We can’t thank you enough for all you do.
Tink: I appreciate everything you guys are doing with this movie.
Janette: Yeah thank you for just everything. Francis is so grateful. We’re grateful. Every fiber in every person at WFE is grateful.
Tink: I’m gratuitously filled with gratitude for YOU!
Andrew: Did we say how thankful we are? Because we are.
Seriously guys…it was that kind of thankful love fest. We did have some more to say to one another. Here are the highlights…once we got over the thank you’s (never happened):
- Above all, Francis appreciates the support from EVERYONE out there. He is thankful.
- I gave them a Team Rosie button and they said Francis would love it and he had to be the one who gets it.
- Francis didn’t want to use CGI. Wanted to show the animals…the exotic creatures we all love
- Filming WFE has been an amazing adventure. They shared that it felt like how movies were made in the old days.
- At the Piru set, Gil and Andrew would sit in the bleachers and eat popcorn…forgetting they were working They felt like kids going to the circus everyday.
- Rosie will blow us all away. They said she was amazing (I need a new word here but I think we said amazing as much as we said thank you). Rosie is also the most missed cast member. We can vouch for that just from the extras who tweet.
- I told them how much enthusiasm is surrounding this movie already. I shared how many readers we have, followers on twitter, and the inquiries we get daily about the movie. I told them the fans are so engaged and will make this movie a huge success. They said “from your lips to God’s ears.” It was funny…we all live in a bubble of pure WFE excitement. It being anything but a massive success feels impossible in my mind. So when I heard their hesitance to squee at their future success, it only egged me on more and I insisted the WFE fans would support this film to enormous levels. Did I put us out there too much, guys? I don’t think so
- They said they love everything we’re doing on the site (this was such needed praise, you have no idea) and appreciated us getting the word out there. Some more thank you’s sprinkled into this part. I said I know we don’t have official pictures but from what we’ve seen it all looks (say it with me) amazing. They said the details in the film are incredible and they are sad it is ending. As are we
- Became servants to Andrew and Gil. Told them to email us if there is ever anything they have a problem with. Gave them and Janette our card and got into a discussion about the graphic. I told them I had my roommate from college design it for us so we had an identity. They asked where I went to college. CSULB. I shared I teach there now and of course they ask what subject. I blush and say, “Don’t judge what you’re seeing right now but public speaking, my masters is in communications.” They laughed because while I could carry on a conversation, I was talking rapidly and my pitch was higher than normal.
- I met the executive producer, Kevin Halloran, who came over for a moment with an elephant shirt on. We laughed at having matching tees and Gil noted he was left out in his University of Mississippi shirt. I added this info because I got a kick out of the fact I was having small talk with these superfab people.
- Oh yeah…the tee shirt I was so desperately seeking…it kind of faded into the background once I started talking to everyone. The shirt was made by the WFE stand-by painter, Lee Ross. It is my precious souvenir from a most memorable day.
- We all took a picture together. I looked a hot mess but a picture was a must. Janette tried to step out of it which is crazy and I’m glad the producers insisted she get in the picture. I love it more than I probably should love a picture but I’m use to this reaction being a Rob fan and all.
- They thank ALL the WFE fans. ALL. No this wasn’t a typo…it was another thank you being emphasized as we went our separate ways.
I don’t think I had the grace left to wait until they were out of earshot to start spazzing with glee. The moment was beyond surreal. All the little pieces that came together to make this happen for me started playing in my mind. I felt overwhelmed. I remembered telling my mother, “if it was meant to be, it will be”…que sera, sera. It was meant to be.
I thanked Francis on twitter:
THANK YOU….so much…u have no idea :))))) ~tink
And he responded again
no problem. Thanks for the support.
I’m going to follow this man to the ends of the earth, aren’t I? Blogs for every movie he does because he’s “the best human to ever exist”. LOL
I have never had such an experience like this. I’ve always loved movies and for a long time, wanted to be involved in the industry. Writing on this blog has been in a way, a dream realized and having this encounter filled my heart.
Some of you just might be wondering how I went this whole post without discussing whether I met Rob or not. I didn’t. I missed him by a nose when he was finishing up autographs and pictures with fans. Two cars passing in the night. I was bummed but I reminded myself that I have been very blessed. Rob isn’t going anywhere but ‘Water For Elephants‘ is and que sera, sera…OBVIOUSLY I wasn’t supposed to meet him. Adding THAT factor into my night surely would have done me in for good. Instead of writing you this novel, the kinkers would have been writing my eulogy.
I have to say how much I love my kinkers, Jen, JAG, and Debb. They really hung in there with me when I was all emo earlier in the day. I thank Debb for her question to me, JAG for her just “knowing” it’ll all work out, and for Jen tweeting my rogueness which lead to EPICness. Thank you Angie for “drive as fast as you can”, a direct order that I needed, and Cyn for keeping me in this universe pre, post, and during.
Thank you’s might seem odd but second to extreme joy, extreme gratitude towards so many overwhelmed me. Again, Francis, Andrew, Gil, and Janette…you have no idea…the words seem small in comparison to how meaningful you made the evening for me. The permanent grin has yet to leave my face. It was meant to be.