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Home » The Scene

Grenier plays role reversal making paparazzo film

Submitted by on October 15, 2011 – 1:42 pmNo Comment

Entourage star Adrian Grenier’s insightful documentary Teenage Paparazzo has been out for a year now and is still turning heads to the reality behind tabloid photography. The HBO documentary follows the life of one of the youngest members of the paparazzi, Austin Visschedyk, who at only 13 (now 17) was earning $500-1000 per celebrity photo. Upon meeting Visschedyk, Grenier felt compelled to tell his story and shed light on the behind-the-scenes world of fame and celebrity photography. Martyr’s Devin Size caught the Toronto screening of Teenage Paparazzo Wednesday, after which he joined Grenier at Live Nightclub for the after-party and an exclusive interview with the man himself.

DS-Tell me about meeting Austin, how this all started and how you fed off each other?

AG-I met Austin many years ago. He was only 13. I was his first (celebrity) shot, so our stars were definitely aligned. He had just started his career with the paparazzi and it made me think how this world has changed to the point where kids were even doing this as a career, which was just way too far out there for me to pass up the opportunity to make a film about it.

DS-You said in an interview that this documentary was your way of “defusing the demons” and stigma about the paparazzi. How did making this film alter your perspective?

AG-We as humans can often be afraid of what we don’t know… As we become fearful we start to develop defenses to protect ourselves from what we don’t understand, or what we perceive as a threat. It happens in war all the time, where a leader will manipulate their people into turning against another population because they deem them as evil. It’s ultimately because we don’t understand the culture. It’s happening right now for instance with Muslims and whatnot, and although that’s an extreme example… The paparazzi are often viewed as monsters, like they are out to do harm to us in a lot of ways. Naturally it makes sense to become defensive and lash out, and I think a lot of celebrities do that. I chose to take another route – to reach out and communicate with them and gain a better understanding of who they are, as a means to defuse the tensions, which could easily escalate out of control. In my case, I feel I’ve defused it enough to the point where it’s harmless.

DS-Do you think you’ve bridged a gap with this documentary? Can one live without the other?

AG-Well in a way, but one CAN live without the other. You know very well, that in the world of media, there’s all that competition. It’s all about outlets and content. The thing about these tabloids is that they have the resources, and the platforms, to basically steal these images from you, or other celebrities, and put it out there and create stories around that image. Now that the internet is out there and anyone can get this content, the tabloids don’t have that monopoly anymore, for better or for worse. Now people can tweet an image before a paparazzo would even be able to print it, therefore losing its value. It’s not about one living without the other anymore; it’s about who’s in control, and who’s capitalizing.

DS-You interviewed a few celebrities during the documentary. Who stuck out the most to you, or whose testimony really struck a chord with you?

AG-Alec Baldwin was awesome! His interview was great. He’s just such a charasmatic, and insightful person. We process important information better when it’s presented in a fun or comedic fashion. He brought levity and comedic value to the film, which we really needed. At the same time he said some very real things and addressed some very important ironies in the industry. Paris Hilton I’ve known for many years and she’s very smart and savvy about this subject, [having been] in it for so many years. She gave a glimpse into the real world of the paparazzi. When I called her up and asked her to do this for me, she said “Adrian, def!”

DS-From a first-person perspective, how has the paparazzi affected you personally?

AG-I’m not that famous of a guy. I mean I play a really famous guy: Vinny Chase from Entourage. Paparazzos aren’t really chasing someone like me. If I’m in the wrong place, wrong time, then yeah I get shot. It’s a very stressful and unnatural experience being a celebrity. Humans weren’t designed to handle this sort of stimulation and adrenaline. It instantly puts you into a state of self-consciousness.

DS-So how did/do you handle it?

AG-Well, some people become diva bitches, and then some people make documentaries about it. It’s as different as the individual. Fame can be very seductive and addictive. I learned a lot from Vincent, or maybe Vincent learned a lot from me (laughs). I’m not sure which one came first.

DS-What’s next for you now?

AG-Well I’m hoping Entourage ends well, since my career depends on it (laughs). But to finish my self-proclaimed ‘trilogy’ of HBO documentaries, I’m working on the next one in which I’m going to touch on love, commitment, and the struggle of growing older in the process. Give me a few years…

All photos by Tee Onek

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