I happen to love Entourage and have long had a serious man-crush on its doe eyed lead, Adrian Grenier, who plays superstar actor Vincent Chase with what’s either an understated grace, or a complete lack of acting chops that comes across as natural. Tough to tell.
Anyway, I was doing what people do these days, watching random Youtube clips of Adrian Grenier, checking him out on Twitter and reading 100% worthless interviews with him on random websites that you totally don’t care about when I stumbled upon a documentary he directed called Teenage Paparazzo. Grenier is actually a pretty interesting dude who’s into sustainable products and film history, as well as film making. Grenier’s project began as an investigation of the paparazzi, who Grenier, after the massive success of Entourage and his transformation into paparazzi target made him curious about what made the strange pursuit of celebrity photographs tick. As his own star rose, he found himself first flattered, then annoyed, as photographers on foot and in creepy car caravans were waiting for him outside his house and followed him to clubs, restaurants, coffee shops, and pharmacies for toothpaste. So he decided to turn the cameras on the paparazzi. It’s a pretty astute, inquiry based idea for a documentary, actually, and shows that, to play the lovable but fairly vacant Vince Chase, Grenier must be a pretty good actor after all.
What happened next, though, makes one wonder how carefully thought out Grenier’s project really was, because in the early going of his filming, he crosses paths several times with Austin Visschedyk, who at 13 years old had begun trolling the streets of L.A. with camera in tow, looking to snap shots of such celebrities as Paris, Brittany, Nicole, and yes, even Adrian. The film then pivots immediately and becomes very much about this teenage photographer and his surreal life, even naming itself after him. What follows is 90 minutes of Grenier getting to know Austin, trying to find out how he ended up a paparazzo, and even trying his hand at celebrity chasing himself. Grenier also does a bit of research and interviews editors at celeb mags, as well as many other photographers, who offer insight about their practice and defensive scorn in abundance about whether it’s okay or not. All the photographers he talks to tow the party line that celebrities wanted to be famous and being photographed, no matter how aggressively or indiscriminately, is part of the job. You’re rich, famous, and desired, so shut the fuck up is the gist of their feeling on the topic.
I won’t delve into the moral quagmire of this debate, on whose fence I am perched .
Undeniably, the unlikely friendship that develops between Austin and his former celebrity target, as well as Austin’s strange and unexpected rejection of Grenier because he wants to protect his street cred among his photographer peers, is Teenage Paparazzo’s centerpiece and its most earnest and worthwhile attribute. There’s also a strange double voyeurism one gets to enjoy along the way. If you’re a fan of Grenier, or of Paris Hilton for that matter–she also makes several appearances–you get to enjoy their “real” company for a while, while also stepping behind the scenes of the apparatus that, in some ways, led to you knowing and “caring” about them in the first place.
Now, before you spend 90 minutes of your life at my recommendation, full disclosure here that Teenage Paparazzo is not even close to a great film. I’m not even sure it’s that good. But it is relevant, topical, and sure, down right interesting, in the way that I guess ant farms, are interesting. You just sort of want to see what happens next and how it all turns out.