Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Guillermo del Toro signing

What a great evening! Guillermo del Toro, on the brink of being known as "The Director of the Hobbit movie", while still basking in the afterglow of being the "Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth Director", found yet more time in between film projects to publicise his new book, The Strain. I had the evening set aside for the event, together with Mark Fry who until recently was the Book Buyer at the now defunct Wellington Dymocks Bookshop in Lambton Quay.

The official times for the autograph session at the Weta Cave tonight was to be from 6pm to 8pm, so we went to the event 45 minutes early, to make sure I could park somewhere. Only just in time, it seemed - we started queuing only just still inside the door, as the cave was already full of people lining the shop. By the time we left later, the queues went halfway around the block outside.

Also, there were still at least two or three TV interviews to be done, and a few radio ones as well, and finally I saw a newspaper guy there also - watch their websites for their reports. I'll post them here if I see them first.

At 5:50pm, Weta Cave's Tim Launders announced that the interviews were over, and after a loud round of applause, Guillermo began signing books.

Since Weta had done some actual advertising of the event this time, there were a fair few people at the Cave. I estimated about 150-250, but I left before the end of the event. I suspect the official numbers for the night will be much higher.

To compare - there was fairly minimal advertising done for the John Howe event a few weeks ago, who as far as I could tell had no more than about 50 people show up for his autograph session. Even the official numbers were no more than about twice that - it should have been in the hundreds, for an artist of his calibre!

Guillermo seems to be a genuinely nice guy. He appeared to be very happy to meet the public, and press the flesh. (NB - I did hear one amused fan wondering if this was the perfect way to spread swine-flu - get a Mexican guy to go around the world for two weeks shaking hands with everyone... hmmm...)

He said he's loving being in New Zealand, and mentioned he had penguins living under his house at the moment - possibly just rhetoric but actually a real possibility here in Wellington - there's plenty of places where Little Blue Penguins nestle under people's houses on the coastline, especially in Wellywood itself (the Miramar peninsula).

I must admit I did not buy his new book, however, he did gracefully sign my illustrated copy of The Hobbit (which already had Alan Lee's autograph in it). I offered to take him on my tour with his family if he ever felt like a bit of local sightseeing (GDT, if you're reading this - that's a freebie, of course!!! Call me!).

As I walked out of the shop, I got lucky one more time - Richard Taylor had also made an unscheduled appearance, and had been cornered by a small group of fans, for more picture and autographs. Pen still in his hand, he was quite happy to sign my hobbit book as well, leaving me a very happy hobbit indeed.

I ran into a few other people I recognised in the queue outside, among them the lovely Allison and Ian Jack, who decided to come live in Wellington after taking my tour a number of years ago. Ian now works at Weta Digital, proving that nothing is impossible here in Wellington, if you set your mind to it.

Ian has carefully built up a reputation with me of pretending to know nothing, denying everything I say, and faking enthusiasm when I reveal local rumours to him, and then pretending he hasn't already heard them months ago. I know for instance that he saw a 20 minute Tintin showreel by Weta Digital, about 2 years ago, when it was all still rumours and speculation. Even to this day he won't tell me what was in it. What good is a contact at Weta when they actually ABIDE by the confidentiality contract!! Sheesh, Ian! :/

Anyway, I have heard plenty of stuff from other sources, so there's still a few goodies to come.

In the meantime, I'll be at the Weta Cave again this coming Saturday, for the Alan Lee autograph session. I have a lonely Children Of Hurin 1st edition sitting on the shelf that desperately needs a signature in it.

- Jack M.


  1. Great report, Jack -- sounds like a fantastic evening!

  2. Shame you missed it, Ryan... you gotta book your holiday against famous people appearances next time! :)

  3. How come you didn't buy GDT's book? Shame on you...
    Great story! Keep up the good work!

  4. @José

    No shame - I'm a little poor at the moment... I'd love to buy every new book that comes out but last week I could barely afford to buy myself a cup of coffee... Other financial priorities and all that...

    I'm VERY happy to take donations though! :)

    And of course, this blog is making me tons of money - in the last month, I've already earnt $2.26!! Yes, that looks like it's going to buy me a cup of coffee every month! Thank you to everyone reading this! :)

    No wait, if I save it all up, I should have enough for The Strain trilogy by the time book 3 is released, in 2011... hehe...

  5. You didn't even buy a copy of his book? For shame.

  6. @anonymous

    Wow, another one, quick to judge me. Please, do cast judgement on me for not buying a book. I appreciate that. Also, please hide behind the cowardly anonymous tag so nobody can see you judging me.

    For interest sake, take a look at any photos of me on my blog, and notice that I'm wearing one of two pairs of jeans, both with patches on the knees. I don't own any others. New jeans are much higher on my list than a book, no matter how good.

    I'm a tourguide, not a film director/author. I don't have enough money to buy a second house and fill it with six libraries, no matter how much I wished I could. I admire Guillermo for doing what he does, and I love the idea of a mancave, but on my salary, especially in winter when the tourism dies down, I don't have a lot of leftover cash for anything extra.

    Mine is currently the only income in our family, after the recession claimed my wife's job last month (redundancy), and I've got a teenage son who needs to eat.

    When Guillermo had his booksigning last week, I couldn't afford a book of his, especially as it was on a subject that's not my top favourite. No doubt I'll read it at some stage, probably from the public library.

    I offered to take Guillermo and his family around Wellington free of charge - that's where my skills lie. I'm a tourguide, and a good one, too. I work hard for my money.

    @anonymous (and anyone else, for that matter) - next time you attempt to judge me publicly, either sign it with your name and leave me your email address, or expect to get your comments deleted, you coward.

    I am not ashamed to go to his booksigning and bring a different book instead, and I will not be made to feel that way.

    - Jack M.

  7. Well said, Jack. It's nice to meet someone who has their priorites right.

  8. Random aside; be thankful in NZ they don't tend to run booksignings like us Americans do (often at the behest of the author, not the facility)- you wouldn't have been allowed to get anything other than the new book signed! Often them's the rules.

    Also, I was there towards the end of the night and heard the staff discussing their count of over 400 that night so far - a few more people must have showed after you left =)

  9. @Shawn Foley

    Yup, that's correct. Often also, the author will insist on personalising the book with the fan's name, so they don't just end up on eBay the next day.

    Peter Jackson doesn't do a lot of autographs these days, but I think he only signs that way. Viggo Mortensen is another one.

    Peter Jackson's wife, Fran Walsh, the multi-talented script-writer/songwriter/director, pretty much never signs anything at all, except maybe her kids' sick-notes when they miss a day at school.

    - Jack M.