So I can definitely say I'm a George MacKay fan. I have literally travelled to opposite ends of the country to see him. Last month I saw him perform Ah, wilderness! at the Young Vic Theatre and on Tuesday I headed up north to see a screening of his latest film Bypass followed by a QnA. Added bonus of this trip was a chance to catch up with one of my fangirl besties Vicki. With Taylor Swift blaring we hit the road to Newcastle. After an interesting tour of the city caused by me not paying attention we found a bar close to the Cinema.
Over a glass of white wine and a Sage of Ultron cocktail (well I couldn't pass up that opportunity could I - even if it was only Tuesday afternoon) we discussed potential questions we could ask George if we plucked up the courage!! We decided that maybe questions on character development were more appropriate than requests to touch his hair.
From here we headed for tea at the Cinema Bar. From this point on high alert for George. The bar at Tyneside Cinema was lovely and as we pondered the menu I saw him. I managed to resist the urge to point and shout but unfortunately for Vicki this energy travelled down to my leg and I kicked her under the table (sorry again Vicki). He walked passed the bar and into the cinema! Squeeing and tummy butterflies a-go-go. An hour of eating tea and me whipping my head round to see if he came in to the bar passed quickly. He came into the bar and was chatting with the producer and friends as we headed up to the Cinema.
Vicki and I were on the second row. I don't think I have ever sat so close to the screen in a cinema. But we were playing the long game. We wanted to be close for the QnA. Vicki and I were giggling and didn't notice George and Samm Haillay (Producer) come in. They introduced the film, the lights went down and for the next 2 hours we were engrossed.
The film centres on Tim. Bad luck rains relentlessly on him, brother in Prison, absent father, bailiffs and his mother dying. Tim turns to selling stolen goods to earn money for him and his sister to survive. He is inevitably drawn further into this world. As Tim faces decisions to earn money through crime or do the right thing he is struck by a mysterious illness that is a mirror to the morality of the choices he has made. It is a very tense and pacy film with a driving atmospheric sound track that adds to the intensity of the action on screen. This is a film with a tough message. Is morality a luxury? The film ends on a hopeful note. It is not a happy ending that erases the message of the film but a glimmer of hope that brings the story to a close.
The QnA session started with the Samm Haillay asking George about his process of developing Tim's character. Which apparently involved long walks round Regents Park with the Director. Samm complained that was what they where doing while he did the all the hard work getting the money together for the film. It was really interesting and we got a really good insight into the process of the film making. Then the questions were opened up to the audience. The questions focused on the illness, the use of imagery and the meaning of the end of the movie. George saw the illness as a physical representation of the mental stresses he is suffering. I won't go into too much detail as I don't want to spoil the film if anyone wants to watch it. I am hoping as that the QnA was filmed all or parts of it will be available to watch later. If this happens I will post a link here.
Samm announced we had time for two more questions and I got brave I put my hand up but he picked two other people. Vicki and I made sulky faces that I hadn't been picked. George noticed and gave us a big smile. I just about died. With a round of applause the QnA finished. There was a raffle to win a signed poster and George was handed a popcorn bucket to draw the ticket from. The winner announced and a very British round of applause given. George put the bucket down looking rather disappointed and said "I thought we were getting popcorn".
**Fair warning I have a teensy crush on George some fangirling is about to happen. Brace yourself.**
Vicki turned to me and said "Right Charlie get your Sharpie out." And panic set in. I believe my exact words were "Are you serious? Is this really happening? Is this a thing?" And the response I got was "Yes come on" and before I knew it I was stood in front of him. So handsome.
I told him I enjoyed the film and asked him if he'd mind answering my question now. I asked him if the soundscape of the movie was something he was aware of whilst filming or something that was completely post production. George said he was knew what would be happening as Duane Hopkins the director and writer had notated in the script. But the majority of the work on the soundscape was done post production. I told him that on top of his performance the soundtrack had really put me on edge and added to the intensity of the movie. I think because I am a dancer I tune into sounds and music very easily. I said that it helped me feel more for Tim's situation and heightened the emotions in the scenes and still felt anxious because of it. At this point George beamed at me,nudged my arm, and told me this was fantastic and he'd tell Duane. I just about exploded inside I managed to hold it together.
After Vicki had managed to wrestle the pen back off the cinema manager she asked him to sign her Ah, wilderness! program. George looked confused and asked if we'd come to see the show. Vicki told him we had and we were the girls with the LGSM t-shirt that he signed. His was response was a very enthusiastic "Oh Fuck yeah!!" Quickly followed by an apology for swearing at us. He remembered us. I died a dead. I gave him my Pride DVD to sign and asked if Andrew Scott ever came to watch his play. I told him that we'd met Andrew and told him how good it was. George said "No he didn't. I'm going to have a word with him about that". Said with mock annoyance at Andrew.
Vicki being the professional that she is made sure we got pictures too George was so happy, friendly and willing to chat. I didn't want to stop talking to him but I knew our time was up and other people were waiting. I didn't want to be one of those fans that just hogs all of the time. Sharing is caring people. Vicki and I walked calmly out of the cinema, round the corner and into the stairwell where freaked out. Squeeing, clapping, jumping, stamping feet and clapping hands a deep breath and we were calm-ish again. We went down to the bar for a drink and to collect our thoughts. And by collect our thoughts rehash the entire conversation moment by moment. And we had to let Jackie, who was waiting patiently in Canada for news, know what had happened. I don't know that our garbled messages of excitement made much sense but I think she picked up the key themes.
Then he just strolls into the bar and has few drinks with Samm and his family. So we are just sitting in the bar having a drink and so is he. Heaven. I have actually never been so keen to got to the bar for a drink. I totally did it as an excuse to stand by George again. I'm not even sorry. Never been so happy to be bumped into at the bar! I got an apology' "Oh hello" and a lovely smile. Sigh. So we sat and sipped our drinks with a lovely view of George. There is a downside to this. Which is when you forget they are there and you get your freshly signed DVD out of your bag, stare at it adoringly, stroke it a little and glance up, see them looking at you and you want the earth to swallow you. Blush. Blush. Blush.
With our drinks finished we said a quick bye to George, thanked him for his time earlier and headed off back to Vicki's. What a wonderful night I'm so happy Vicki spotted the QnA and is mad enough to go with me and make me talk to my Georgie!!! Love her I do! Happy happy happy little geek.
Are you a George MacKay fan? I'd love to meet others! Have you ever met one of your favourite stars? I'd love to hear your story too!
(Pictures from Tyneside Cinema Twitter and Bypass Movie Instagram)