Wow, last month was a crazy, exciting month for me. I've been writing on MoviePilot since late November 2014 and I knew that I wanted to continue writing for them when I saw the sort of contests they put together and actually won the first contest I took part in, which won me some awesome Star Wars goodies.
Following that moment of winning, I knew that MoviePilot would be the place to stick around, especially seeing as how I never really won anything in the past. I then began to look into MoviePilot's as a company and stumbled across a video where Andrew Marco posted this awesome article featuring some of the cool opportunities that MoviePilot provides.
At that point, I started actively seeking out how to get opportunities like this, where one can actually sit down with movie star and celebrities and experience these awesome events.
Well, apparently, after putting so much work and effort into my writing, MoviePilot had invited me out to Los Angeles to attend the red carpet premiere of 'The Gunman'.
Although I would have loved to attend this awesome event, it didn't look like it was going to work out with my job and stuff. So a month went by and MoviePilot offered me another chance to come out and see a preview screening of 'Fast and Furious 7' and possibly get to drive some awesome cars (nothing was guaranteed though).
But once again, work couldn't allow it and I knew, in my heart of hearts, that that would be the last strike with MoviePilot. Why would they bother sending me anywhere again? They'd more likely be turned down anyways and lose all faith in my availability. More than likely they probably had given up on me, I thought.
But I stayed faithful to my writing, competing in contests as they came, constantly checking my email and facebook to see if someone from MoviePilot had gotten in contact with me and yet, there was no news from anyone. I had a month or two of MoviePilot "dark ages" where I thought I had been lost to any future opportunities.
But as I continued to write, I took part of a contest, just as way to challenge my writing a bit more, and it had to do with creating our own version of a post-credits scene for a movie of our choice. The article I chose to write was this:
I really liked this article, for myself, but didn't think it would necessarily win any contest, only because I thought that some might view as "unoriginal" due to the fact that I chose a Marvel film ('Avengers: Age of Ultron') who are known for their mid/post-credits scenes. But I had a passion for that specific article and wrote it anyways. Little did I know that I would end up winning my second contest!
I was blown away by the sheer fact that I won this and super excited that I did because I had been looking to replace all of my Marvel Phase One movies that were on DVD and get Blu-Ray copies of them. Never did I think that I'd win this!
But it wasn't just the prizes that made June pretty awesome for a fan of the Marvel's movies. No, I got an email from Andrew Marco stating that he had some very cool 'Ant-Man' related news he wanted to talk with me about.
Turns out that I was being extended an offer to fly over to Los Angeles, California for a special preview screening of the latest film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! I could go into all that was offered, but let me delve into what I actually got to do!
Los Angeles, California
MoviePilot actually provided me the means to fly down to LA for the weekend! I had never been to LA before or any coastal city/state in my life! This was going to be an awesome trip and I couldn't wait to journey out west and see the sights, as well getting to see 'Ant-Man'.
The first day, Friday, I had woke up early in the morning and got myself to the Indianapolis International Airport as fast as I could. I could not afford to be late at all! I hate a flight from Indy to Houston where I would then make a connecting flight to LAX.
Sure enough, the rainy weather we have been experiencing in Indianapolis caused some mechanical malfunctions in our plane before we took off which cause us to have a 45-60 minute delay to Houston (where I only had a 45 minute layover).
When we finally landed in Houston, I had missed my plane by only five minutes. They were telling me that I would have to wait for the next flight which would be three hours later (not cool) but that they would add me as a stand-by for another flight that would leave around an hour after the flight I had just missed, so I had around 50 minutes of waiting.
Eventually, I made it onto the plane that I was waiting on stand-by for. Unfortunately, I was unable to reclaim a window seat and instead got smashed between two people who just felt like taking a nap. The dude on my right, who was a pretty large man, kept slumping over and hogging the arm-rest and the old woman next to me was snoring and didn't even bother to open the window so I could see the scenery to help time go by.
The cool thing was that this plane had television integrated into the back of the head rests in front of us. The bad thing was that I couldn't plug my earpiece into the armrest due to the large man's arm taking up the space. Plus, even I wanted to watch something, I'd have to pay for it (which I thought movies were included) so I was stuck watching silent re-runs of 'Alaskan Bush People'.
This would never be my first option for a television series to watch. It was terrible just sitting there, smushed between two strangers, watching this show with dudes who don't know how to properly groom their facial hair and girls who desperately need to be shown a toothbrush. This show, from the looks of it, wanted to be the next 'Duck Dynasty', but it had no charm whatsoever.
DAY ONE in Los Angeles
Finally, my flight landed in LAX, I went outside and caught a glimpse of just how much busier this airport was compared to ours in Indy. Andrew Marco of MoviePilot ended up picking me up and drove me out from under the overhang at the airport's transportation staging area and I got to see palm trees for the first time in my life.
From there, I got to try out In N Out which is supposed to be like, the burger to get on the West Coast.
I have to say that is was pretty good. Can never beat a simple cheeseburger. What blew my mind was the fact that the restaurant only had three burgers on their menu, hamburger, cheeseburger, and double cheeseburger. That's a lot of confidence. I'm still a Five Guys man myself, but I wouldn't mind if In N Out decided to open some chains in the Midwest.
After lunch, I got to and check out the MoviePilot California headquarters in Venice. Here, it was pretty cool to meet all the people that I've met through the website and then some additional people who work a lot behind the scenes. I hung out in the garage area mostly with Andrew Marco, Julian Bahmani, and Danica Abeln. While I was there, I was made to sign the Baymax cutout the team had on their wall:
They were nice enough to give me some awesome gifts of my choice which ended up being three pairs of Marvel Superhero socks and the 'Lego Jurassic World' game for the PS4 (since they said no one wanted it). I gave these two my wife and daughter and both of them loved it.
I also got to walk up and down Abbot Kinney which was actually voted "The Coolest Block in America". There were some very neat looking shops that reminds me of a place called Broad Ripple where I am from, only it was much larger than where I'm from. I think the coolest aspect of it though was getting this picture taken:
No, it's not because I got my picture taken with Andrew Marco and Julian Bahmani from MoviePilot (even though they're awesome dudes), it's because that plain and simple looking building behind us, actually belongs to Robert Downey Jr. and his wife, Susan Downey.
It's a small production studios where Robert and Susan came up with the idea for the movie, 'The Judge'. I'm told that not only is there an Iron Man suit on display somewhere in that building, but the large "A" that was left on Tony Stark's tower in the end of 'The Avengers', was shipped here to Robert Downey Jr. as a birthday present. If only I got have taken a look inside.
This pretty much summed up how I spent my time while waiting for the movie screening later that night, which, came as quickly as it went, but I'll recount the events as they happened.
I was taken to the Walt Disney Studios back lot where a lot of films are actually shot on set, and I was given the chance to visit one of their private theaters, which, at first, I mistakenly thought was the El Capitan because of the popcorn buckets they provided. I'm glad it wasn't, because the outside of the building would have left a little bit more to be desired for such a revered movie theater.
But before we went into the theater (or "theatre"), I did some looking around the back lot as much as I could. There were some amazing things to see back there and I only went in a part of the way. Check out some of these awesome photos of what you first see going behind the Walt Disney studios back lot:
This structure is amazing to look at and the amount of detail that went into this is amazing. It's even more amazing in person.
Here was a statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse walking and holding hands. I can't even imagine how amazing it would be to create a character so beloved that it becomes a part of who you are. I mean, I have characters, but unless I get the time to start investing time into that project, I'll never have this.
This is for you 'Fantasia' fans out there. I loved this piece of art most of all.
But finally it was time to go and see the film, 'Ant-Man'! I couldn't believe that I was going to get the opportunity to see this Marvel Studios produced film almost a month before its official release date.
The inside of the theater had a very classic feel to it with the way the seats were set up and the huge, red curtain that draped in front of the screen when nothing was playing, just waiting to be spread open for a new exciting film.
Now, unfortunately, I cannot post a review for the film on here until Wednesday, July 8th. So all I can provide for you today is my reaction statement for the film:
I'll be sure to have the review up as soon as I can and any other articles regarding 'Ant-Man' linked to this article at the bottom.
But besides all the fun that I had seeing 'Ant-Man', one of the other cool things that happened to me as I was walking out of the theater, was that I got to meet Kristian Harloff and Mark Ellis from SchmoesKnow!
I watch these guys on youtube all the time because they're not only funny at times, but they're opinions on certain films almost always align up with my own. There's so many times where I wish I could just sit in on the show with them and talk movies, especially when it comes to them talking about superhero movies.
I had no choice but to walk up and introduce myself to them and let them know that I was a huge fan of theirs. Kristian was the one I spoke to most, and he was really friendly and kind. He asked me who I was with and if I liked the film. I told him that I thought it was fun and he agreed so it'll be cool to see what he and Mark say about the film whenever the 'Ant-Man' review embargo comes to an end.
They were nice enough to get their picture taken with me too, which made for a pretty cool way to end my night.
DAY TWO in Los Angeles
The next day, I woke up all nerves. I knew that in a few short hours, I would be going back to Walt Disney to sit in on a press junket with the entire cast from 'Ant-Man'.
But despite my nerves, I was still excited to be in attendance. What I didn't know was going to happen was that I was going to be dropped off. Apparently, only I was given permission to continue on for the Press Conference and so that mean that I sat in that big theater alone while reporters, bloggers, and writers were all mingling around me.
I tried to make the best of it alone by snapping selfies...
...but eventually, I just realized how much it sucked just sitting there alone. Then it dawned on me: I didn't have to be backward an unsociable. I was in LA at an 'Ant-Man' press junket, I should make the most of every opportunity given to me.
I remember approaching two women sitting nearest me and began to delve into a conversation about how this whole event was the first of its kind that I had ever been in attendance to. This generated a lot of excitement from them and those around me as people came up to me and started giving me advice of what to do and what not to do and what to expect. It was very cool. One woman even offered to send me a copy of a scifi/fantasy book she had been working on, hoping that I'd review it (but I had forgotten to give her my address so...no book).
Eventually, the cast of 'Ant-Man' stepped out onto the floor and the questioning began to take place. Kevin Feige, Corey Stoll, Peyton Reed, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, David Dastmalchian, and T.I. were all in attendance. I had cleverly followed everyone else and set my phone on "voice record" mode on the table where the cast was sitting so all I had to do was pay attention, enjoy, and ask any questions I might have had.
I had raised my hand to the girl on my left who was walking up and down the theater, passing the microphone for different people in attendance to ask questions. Unfortunately, she snubbed me and I never got my question. She even went so far as to walk down my aisle, reach over me, and pass it to the guy two seats down from where I was sitting.
Irritated that I didn't get to ask Kevin Feige my question during the junket, I tried to let it roll off my back and not let it bother me. I got over it, especially when I went up to retrieve my phone from the table and realized that Kevin Feige was still within hearing range. I shouted to him and he didn't hesitate to come up to me and listen to what I had to ask. It was awesome because not only was he nice enough to approach me, he also gave me an amazing answer.
Afterwards, it was all hustle and bustle as we were shuffled along to the Frank G. Wells building where we awaited our opportunity to interview the actors we were scheduled to. During that time, I did get to meet Nate Best, President of ComicBookMovie.com who gave me his business card to send him any articles that I wrote so that he could help generate more views for both his site, my site, and ultimately, MoviePilot.
Afterwards, my name was finally called upon so that I could go do my interview with Michael Pena, which went extremely well and you can read more about here:
Now that the interview was over, there was still several hours to kill before I had to board my flight at 11:00 PM and so Andrew Marco was nice enough to show me some of the more popular places to visit like:
- The Griffith Observatory
The Griffith Observatory provided a really cool opportunity to get a good shot at Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign.
- Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard has a lot to offer first time visitors to Los Angeles and I was glad for the opportunity to walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard and to see some of the awesome sites they had.
Hollywood Boulevard was cool cause I got to see the Chinese Theatre,...
...the El Capitan,...
...and see some of the biggest stars' personalized hand/feet prints.
- Santa Monica Beach/Pier
Then finally, cause I'd never seen the ocean before, I was taken to the Santa Monica Pier where I could overlook the beach and the ocean. It was pretty amazing.
It was here at Santa Monica that I found the perfect souvenirs for my wife and kids (with the help of Andrew Marco's). I found them each a glass bottle with sea shells in it. I felt pretty proud that I was able to bring them home such gifts. I was nearly tempted on my way out to by a little souvenir for myself at a place called Puzzle Zoo where they had a Square Enix Arkham City Batman. I think my only regret from that trip is that I didn't follow the rules of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle:
Santa Monica was pretty much the end to my very busy day in Los Angeles and it seemed in no time, that it was already time to get to the airport and began my long flight home.
Side Story: The Plane Ride to Chicago
Now, I've summed up to you everything that made Los Angeles great for me but there's a story that cannot go untold here. My flight from LA to Chicago took off at 11:00 PM which meant that it was way after midnight in Indy, which was what my body was adjusted to, which meant I wanted to sleep.
It was nice that on the plane ride home, I was able to once again have a window seat. I was sure watching the landscape beneath me would lull me to sleep like counting sheep. Well, this older woman sat down next to me (in the middle) and this girl sat down next to her. Sure enough, across the aisle right next to the younger girl, this younger dude sits down and they immediately start hitting it off:
"How are you? Where you from? Where you goin? What do you do?"
The chatter was going to get old, but whatever, I could try to sleep it off...right? Wrong. Before the plane even took off, the young dude had asked the older woman next to me if they could switch seats so that he and the girl could talk more. Of course the woman didn't object but did anyone think to ask me? Nope!
But I just told myself that I could still tune it out and fall asleep. Of course I did eventually fall asleep despite all the chatter but I woke up like an hour or two later and all was silent, all was right in the world. The guy and girl had fallen asleep...I thought.
At first I thought this dude had lulled his head to the side in his sleep and was absent mindedly scratching his face or something, when I realized it was this girl's hand running her nails along the side of the dude's face! This irritated me because the whole reason I had woke up was because the dude bumped my leg on accident, which I was willing to forgive since he was asleep. But this dude knew he woke me up, I know he heard me moving around.
Once again, I just ignored it and eventually fell back asleep, only to be woken up not even an hour later from being kicked again. Only this time was different. This time is was not only her scratching his face, it was him leaned back (completely lifeless like a dead fish it seemed) while this girl was almost literally on top of the dude making out!
You may say, "Aaron, they are just young and living in the moment!" To that I say "BULL"! When you are kicked awake twice in the middle of the night on an uncomfortable plane only to hear the sounds of what sounds like two dogs trying to lick the peanut butter out of their mouth, it's just rude and disrespectful.
But it made for a funny story and I had debated a number of unkempt ways of defusing the spark that the two were experiencing next to me. But in my anger, I told myself to just chill out. So, in a very indiscreet way, I turned on the bright smartphone in that dark little plane and began looking pictures and videos of my family, who I was already missing very much.
The two of them got the hint I believe and stopped. They snuggled for the rest of the flight but at least they were still and they stopped kicking me.
All in all, it was a fun trip and it felt like an adventure going far out to the West Coast. I'm so thankful for everything MoviePilot did for me last month between sending me the awesome prize package with the Marvel Phase One blu ray collection and them flying me out to send me to 'Ant-Man' and giving me a bit of a taste of Los Angeles.
I will always remember this experience and glad that I got to put a lot of this under my belt.
Thank you Andrew and the rest of MoviePilot for everything!