Last night was the Artifact screening in LA. In case you're wondering, YES, this was my third screening. I can't help it, okay? I love the film and while I have seen it more times than I care to admit (at this point I could rewrite it word for word), there's always something extra special about watching it in a theatre with other people who share my feelings about Jared and the band. This time it was extra special for me because the screening was held in the City Of Angels. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it was to watch Artifact knowing that not only was I in the city where it all happened, but I'd also visited many of the iconic locations in the film. I got a little surge of electricity down my spine every time I recognized a place I'd been. It was amazing.
However, as much as I adore the film, my real motivation for attending the screening was the q&a with Jared. Once the film got to my favourite scene ("Don't you just want to make something that lives forever?") my heart started to pound. No matter how many times I do this and see him in person, my reaction is always going to be the same. In fact even just writing this and remembering it has my heart going nuts. Even the memory affects me.
The film ended and the general ticket holders left. Bec, Jess and I had seats in the front row (which is so unlike me, oh holy hell), which made it even scarier somehow. I guess because I couldn't hide as I normally do. After Reni went through the general rules and an overview of how the screening would happen, Ander (an AIW rep) took the microphone to entertain us while we waited for Jared. He was being goofy and funny, until suddenly someone yelled out, "Turn up that microphone; I can't hear it!" We all turned around and sure enough, Grampa Leto was making his way down the stairs to the stage. Wearing the fanny pack and eating popcorn, naturally. Hahaha Oh Jared, how I love you. Once he got down he took off his fanny pack (awww. I wanted it in my pic!) and set it and his popcorn down on his chair...Which was directly in front of me and less than 2 metres away. I don't even need to tell you what my heart was doing. He laughed about the fanny pack, saying that you can wear whatever you want at 42. "Is it comfortable? Yeah! Does it look good? Meh...Don't really care." Haha.
He ate some popcorn and said, "Not that anyone cares, but this is the best damn popcorn I've ever had at a screening." Then he paused and said, "What is it about popcorn? Even when it's terrible you just keep eating it." Reni came over with a cup of tea (I think) and before he had a sip, she warned him that it was very hot. He was blowing on it and making all this sipping noises and acting out what would happen if he burnt his tongue (fake crying and general adorable-ness) before finally setting it down and saying, "No, I don't trust it." Haha. Why is it that even his most basic actions are mesmerizing?
He then thanked us for coming to the screening and went through the same sort of thing that he says at the beginning of every screening. He talked about what the film was about at its core (dreams) and about how important it is to fight for what you believe in. He also made fun of Lee Trink, telling him that whatever he was drinking had too many calories for people "their age". He then introduced Lee to us and pointed out that he had been in the film. He also spoke about VyRT and about a woman (I believe her name is Erin) he had quoted during a VyRT chat who had said that she was physically unable to leave her house, so VyRT was her lifeline. He was really moved by that. A man at the back of the room called out that he knew Erin and gave a little more insight about her story, and Jared told him to tell him more about it when he came down for his picture, and to also let Erin know that he mentioned her without provocation. Moments like that make me love and appreciate him even more. You can really see that he is so passionate about what he does, which makes it even more heartbreaking to think of all the shit he gets. But anyway. Let's not think about that today.
He was just as excited as I was that the screening was held in LA (or at least that's how it felt!) He kept talking about where things were filmed and how all of this has unravelled within a few minutes of where we were sitting right now. He also tried to remember where the film was shown for the very first time, but Grampa Leto couldn't remember and Dai had to break it down for him. Haha. [Side note: Before the film I ran into Dai and she recognized me from Irvine and hugged me. Amazing moment. Seriously.]
It's incredible to watch him talk about LA. His passion is infectious. He spoke about shutting down the Hollywood Boulevard for Kings and Queens, and I got honest to God chills. Imagine being there and living that. As we all know, Kings and Queens is so important to me, so hearing him speak about it so passionately was just incredible.
After he spoke a bit more about LA, and asked us some questions about where we were all from (and encouraged us to do a Europe circuit with Mars -- which has suddenly been added to my bucket list) it was time for the questions. I can't guarantee I will remember every question and everything he said, but I will do my best. Remember that these are my memories, so forgive me if it's not 100% accurate.
The first question was about whether or not the band had been paid yet, as at the end of Artifact it stated that they have never been paid and are still in debt. Jared said he was going to push back on that question, and say that it was never about being paid; it was about fighting for what was fair and right. The girl asking the question kept pushing for a clear answer, until eventually he said no, they haven't been, but that's not what is important.
Next up was a question about releasing the score. He kept interrupting the girl asking with "Have I ever considered? No! Next question!" until he laughed and said he had to do that to someone, and told her to spit it out. When she finally asked if he was going to release the score, he said he might do it on VyRT and we should keep reminding him because there's a long list of things to do. He also said that there were some secret songs in the score -- such as Witness in 4/4 -- but you'd have to be a musician to find it. Challenge accepted, Jared.
Somebody asked a question about whether he was going to direct a movie again, and everyone applauded. He said he was definitely interested in directing a narrative film, which gets me all giddy inside. Someone asked if he would be acting again, and he said that he has been reading scripts, but the kind of movies that are out now ("popcorn movies like Marvel movies") aren't the kind of movies that he wants to act in, although they are getting better and have great actors in them.
A guy asked about being in business with family, because he was getting into business with his brother. He asked how to stay together as a family because it was getting difficult. Jared said that working with family is very challenging, but ultimately, it's that blood bond that keeps you together. He said that he and Shannon have had problems because Jared is very /something/ (he said he was trying to find a better way to say than calling himself a dictator) and Shannon is quite relaxed and mellow, so that can cause problems. He also said that there's been challenges with him being the younger brother as well, but that ultimately, he wouldn't be doing this at all if it wasn't for Shannon, and that blood bond is the most important thing. He said that if he wasn't doing this with Shannon, he probably would have quit because of all the shit he gets from the press and people in general, and because touring is so hard on relationships. He mentioned some of the other "members" of the band who have dropped off, but said that he could never do that because he has Shannon. Cue tears. He also pointed out that Shannon is the one who is passionate about music, and that he doesn't even really like it. Although he has said similar things to that before, it was still a wow moment to hear him talk about it so candidly. He said he barely listens to music at all, and that he couldn't tell us who the last new band he listened to was (I know, Jared!! It was Banks!! Haha) He said he has his favourites -- Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, U2 etc -- but he isn't a real music lover. I think someone then asked him why he makes music if he doesn't love it, and he said it's because he is compelled beyond a reasonable doubt to do it. He can't help it. He could write ten songs in one night (but finishing them is another story) because he always has hundreds of lyrics and melodies running through his head. He couldn't stop even of he wanted to.
I feel this is a great time to remind you all that I am in awe of this man.
Next a young girl asked about having Hollywood dreams. She said she wanted to be an actress or a singer or a director (I think she mentioned a few other options too) and asked how she should go about it. His answer? "Sleep with everyone you know, and then sleep with everyone you don't know! Hey, is that your mom? She can sleep with everyone, too!! Whatever gets you that part!" Hahaha. He then laughed and said "Seriously though, pick one. Don't do too many things. Everyone does too many things. Pick one thing and do it really well and succeed in it before you try to do something else." He said that many people look at him and think that if "fucking Leto can do it and that guy's an idiot!" then they can too, but he would encourage us all to just focus on one thing. He said that it could be the opposite and we might look at him and feel really inspired, but we really need to focus on succeeding in one thing at a time.
Somebody asked why the screenings are so important, and he said that the time he spends after the screenings is very valuable to him because he learns a lot about himself and about that time in his life. Someone else asked if he has any regrets or if he would change anything, and he said that whenever he asks Westerners that they say no because their past makes them who they are, but when he asks it in other parts of the world, everyone says yes. He said that it's a really powerful thing to admit that even though your past has shaped you, you still wish you hadn't done something or handled a situation a certain way. He said he has things he would change, but then when he thinks about it he wouldn't change them because then he may never have made Kings and Queens ("The most epic video ever"), Closer To The Edge or won "The Fucking Oscar".
Someone asked something about dreams, and he said that the most important thing you can do is take that first step forward, because 90% of people never take that step. He said that he is no one special (liar), that he is just flesh and blood like us, but he made the decision to take that first step towards following his dreams. He said that out of the 7 billion people on the planet, 6 billion people will never take that step. Out of the 200 people at the screening, 190 of us will never take that step. He said that you have to do it, because until you do you'll never have a shot. Taking that first step is the only way to wrestle your dreams into your reality.
Someone asked if he had learnt about himself while filming Artifact, and he said yes, of course. He spoke about The Secret Spot and how he would go there to reflect and clear his mind, and to put things in perspective. He said you can't go through something like this and not learn about yourself.
He kept saying that he had time for one more question, but went on to answer at least five more. I love it when he is in that kind of open and honest mood. It is a beautiful thing.
He spoke about the end of the film, and asked us who felt uncomfortable with them resigning the contract with EMI. He said that it was an interesting ending because it wasn't 'happy' in the way that films normally end. Someone asked what it's like being unsigned, and he said he can barely tell the difference except he doesn't have to drag people along with him and beg and plead for them to pay attention to what he is doing. He doesn't have to convince anyone that he is worthwhile. He said that there are some real benefits to having a record label, but that right now, they are happy being free.
He brought Lee Trink down to officially introduce him (he was working for the record label when Artifact was being filmed) and spoke about how Lee was his first believer. He said that Lee believed in him when he wanted to direct his first short film (The Kill) and that he even supported him when he wanted to go to China for From Yesterday. Lee laughed and said he wanted to kill him, but Jared said that he still showed up and then showed up AGAIN for A Beautiful Lie. Someone yelled out that Lee was carrying gear, and Jared laughed and asked if we'd seen The Edge Of The Earth: The Making Of A Beautiful Lie. He said that Lee surprised him by coming, and that's how you know that you're working with good people: You're happy to see them.
He spoke about how important it is for dreamers to have someone who believes in them, and said that the bridge between reality and dreams is work, but that it's also made out of faith and perseverance. He reiterated the importance of taking that first step towards your dreams, and said that he hopes we all do that because being a dreamer means being a leader to ourselves. We have to lead ourselves in the direction of our dreams, because there is no price too high to pay for the privilege of owning ourselves.
Then it was time for the pictures. Because we were in the front row we were up first, and though I did have something in mind for my picture, I didn't end up asking for anything. As I put my arm around him he made this soft "mmmm" sound right in my ear, like he was agreeing with something someone had said. Needless to say, my brain ceased to work. That's okay, though. The picture was over in second and I went outside to wait to collect my things. My hands were shaking. Haha.
When we went back inside after everyone had taken their pictures, he was in the shadows, leaning against the wall. It made me giggle...He really does lean great. As a side note: I also visited Angela's house from My-So-Called-Life yesterday. It couldn't have been more perfect.
I left the screening feeling more inspired and driven to follow my dreams than ever. Bec, Jess and I were too wired to sleep, so we decided to go find a peaceful place to sit and talk. We ended up in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking the city. We spoke a little, but mostly we just sat in silence, staring at the land of a billion lights below us. I was thinking about my life and the person I want to be, and I how I'm actually on my way to becoming that person. To becoming the elusive "her" that I've wanted to be for my entire life. He makes me believe I can become her. He makes me believe I can do anything.
We decided to have our own pushami moment, so we each picked up a rock to throw over the precipice. However, we decided to make it a positive moment (normally the rock represents the burden that you are letting go of) so we took a moment to close our eyes and think of something to be thankful for, something we wanted, something about our dreams. Then, on the count of three, we threw the rocks over the edge. It sounds silly, but that was a pivotal moment for me. I know I'm going to remember that moment for the rest of my life.
We stayed up there for a little while longer and had my mum take a picture of us looking out onto the city. Then, as hard as it was to do, we collected our things and started the hike back to the car. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
Poster at The Chinese Theatre
Triad alert after our hike.
Me, Jess and Bec.
TITLE LYRICS: 'City Of Angels' by Thirty Seconds To Mars
For more posts about my adventures in The City Of Angels, click HERE.