Well, the reviews are out, and Despicable Me opened this weekend with huge numbers! But all money aside, the quality of this film is amazing in both story, content and just pure all around for everyone fun! And I’m not just saying that cause I got to meet all the films talent!!!
Which leads me to my focus this time around on the whole Junket experience! What a ride! To be quite honest, I never knew what a junket was, but when Today’s Mama asked if I was interested in a special project, I jumped at the possibility! Since they also had their big EVO 10 conference the same weekend, I was asked to attend the junket in LA to represent! And that I did!
I would define a Junket as a creative marketing tool that allows members of various media and public to preview a movie before final release, have the chance to interview talent, producers, and directors about the film, and then share their opinion and review to the world at large.
Before I could attend the Junket, I was invited to attend a screening of the film. Actually, my family was invited and we made a big deal of the day! My girls called it an adventure, since we did have to take Isara out of school for half a day to drive down to Century City to see the movie! Traffic wasn’t so bad, considering most people were inside watching the NBA finals that same day!
The staff at Today’s Mama and the publicist for NBC Movie productions really went out of their way to make sure arrangements for travel and stay were perfect. The whole weekend was pure perfection, but I’ll get to that in my last article. On the night of arrivals we met the lovely Seana from NBC who threw us Mommie Bloggers a nice cocktail- get acquainted-ask questions, party at the Four Seasons Hotel, which is also where the Junket was held the next day and where we were staying (OMGoddess!-more on that later!)
Seana gave us a rundown on how the interviews were going to go, what was appropriate to ask and not, and also answered any questions we may have. All the women I met represented various Mom/Parent/Women Blogs across the country. I was so thrilled to be among these talented and evolutionary women!
On the day of the Interviews, we were first asked to check in to the Hospitality Suite, where we received more SWAG (fun free stuff, of which I am giving away some! Yeah!), use the restroom, watch the soccer semi-finals :), and just relax-very nice!
We then made our way through the hotel to a grand room with an oval table. The interviews were done with each actor/talent, in a group setting with all of us. We all had our tape recorders at the head of the table, and agreed that we would conduct ourselves professionally with respect for each other and the questions we all wanted to ask-which, I thought, went excellent! We were not allowed to take photos with our own cameras, except with the cute minion!
First up was Jason Segal (Forgetting Sarah Marshal). He played the part of Gru’s arch enemy, Vector. He was quite charming and funny. As a writer first to acting, he shared the way he preferred to work. His home is also his work space, so he literally wakes up and puts on a suit before heading to the computer to write! He chuckled a bit, but also stressed that this helps him focus. We agreed this was great, but also liked that, as bloggers, we can also wear our jammies! Also, I was surprised to find out that he had a puppetry background, which he applied to Vector when searching for the right voice. He is a big kid at heart with a big heart to give! And yes, he is single, as he mentioned jokingly but seriously many times!
Then came the lovely Miranda Cosgrove also known as iCarly; one of my daughter’s favorite shows! She is just the sweetest, kindest, teen I have ever met. She was very thoughtful in her answers and I loved the way she referred to her mom throughout the interview, who humbly sat off to the side allowing Miranda to do her thing. One of her favorite things about making Despicable Me was the roller coaster scene and the amusement park in general, especailly when Gru is starting to like his role and ended up winning the Unicorn for Agnes! What impressed me most is that she is just a teen, like any other, trying dating, learning to drive, going to school, etc. I was an average fan before…now I am a proud fan for all she is and feel a kinship towards her mom, who, like us, is just doing her best to raise a good kid!
Ok. Take a deep breath. Let it out. The next interview was my favorite. JULIE ANDREWS!!!! We all just about cried and died after meeting her. She is charming and lovely, and just so easy to chat with! She played the part of Gru’s mother. When she was asked to play the role, she was, at first, unsure about playing a part that was so terribly mean. Gru’s mother has no compassion or love what so ever…a far cry from Maria or Mary Poppins! But she loved the challenge and enjoyed the process. She also shared her love of reading as a powerful tool in kids learning. She, along with her daughter, have written and published a number of books, and started their own publishing house, something she is very thankful and proud of. She asked our group a question: How do we feel Motherhood has changed. We agreed, one way it has changed is the way and need to reach out to other moms, as in blogging. She was fascinated by the blogging way and genuinely wanted to know. Yes. I met Julie Andrews. I shook her hand and wished her the best, as she did to me and the other women. I wanted to talk to her more, and had a sense that she did too. A highlight of the trip for sure and something I will never ever forget. I also immediately went online to search for two of her books, Mandy and The Last of the Wangdoodles. <Sigh> 🙂
Next came, the amazing Steve Carell (The Office). He was very nice and professional during the process, and to me, a had a strong family reserve…meaning, he focused his answers in relation to his family. And since he played the part of Gru, a bad guy turned Dadguy, he loved sharing that transformation about Gru. He stressed that becoming a parent really changes everything, and for him being a dad and then able to play this part of someone becoming a dad, was something he thoroughly enjoyed. He has two kids and they saw and loved the movie. Mr. Carell explained that his son who is 6 years old, knew that his dad played the voice of Gru, but asked, “Why couldn’t you play the voice of a minion!?” We all got a hearty laugh from that! The things kids think of and say! To his own family, he proudly stated that they are very silly at home, but also have a strong sense of structure and communication. We also shared funny parenting stories and how he sometimes, like us all, finds himself saying things he never thought he would ever say as a parent, like, “If you don’t behave, I’m going to pull this car over…” Admit it, you have said something along those lines too! He also talked about the importance of reading to kids, as he and his wife does every night to their son and daughter. He truly loves the parenting aspect of the movie and found himself “welling up” while discussing parts of the film when Gru embraces the dad role. Seriously, after talking with him, I want to see this movie all over again!
Our final interview was with the producer from Illumination Entertainment, Chris Meledandri (Ice Age, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Heara a Who!) He was very insightful in providing the background and collaborations the movie entailed from the relationship and partnership with creative talent in France to working with animators and actors to fine tune the characters to have believability and empathy. He mentioned that the whole production from start to finish took about three years, which for animation, was one of the fastest every completed in this time. He was very excited about the 3D effect of the film but also stressed the the movie in 2D is just as wonderful if not more vibrant in color. He shared that his personal favorite scene in the movie was when Gru is reading the bedtime story to the girls; it’s a touching moment in which Gru can no longer evade the fact that he is a loving dad and succumbs to being so! Both his kids, who are 11 and 20 thought this was his best film yet!
Of course we had the great opportunity to meet and take photos with a Minion! The cute yellow characters that work for Gru!
What I noticed about each of the interviews, is that they all mentioned how much fun in play they had in working on the film. Animation is unlike other movies in that you are working in a sound booth, creating the characters voice, with no other actors around to bounce energy from. They were given creative freedom and expression to find the right feel for each character…which made for a great working experience and the end product speaks for itself!
With the last interview done, we headed back up to the hospitality suite, where producer John Cohen pulled us aside to watch a YouTube Montage of unicorn loving Agnes. He expressed the value social media as a powerful and creative voice. We then settled in for some lovely food, including this Despicably Yummy Cupcake!
We said our goodbyes, which will hopefully turn into more hellos in the future! The Junket was a Despicably great success….I know…I know…I can’t get away from using the word, Despicably! Again, I am eager to hear what Today’s Mama readers thought of the movie! Please leave your comments and share your thoughts! My final article in the series will be coming towards the end of this week with some great, fun and yes Despicable giveaways! Thanks for sharing in my journey in the amazing experience! See you soon!