This is not a sentiment I’d like etched on my tombstone, but it has to be said that my career has been littered with highly unfortunate events.
There was that time I was filming interviews at the ARIA Awards and a sudden downpour of rain caused my precariously taped hair extensions to slide off my head and fall at the feet of Australia’s musical icons, laying on the red carpet like a sea of perfectly highlighted, recently deceased rats.
Or there was the time I arrived at a rural property to do a profile on one of Queensland’s most prominent farmers and his rabid donkey proceeded to chase me around the yard (please note, I did nothing to provoke him. It was just uncalled for, vindictive behavior) before cornering me on atop a water tank. Where I stayed quivering in fear until the man’s eight year old son laughingly led him away.
And if we’re now just throwing caution to the wind and getting into the real nitty gritty realm of unfortunate work-related incidents, there was also the day I was talked into taking an undesirable sex toy into an interview with the cast of The Real Housewives of Sydney, and all hell broke loose.
(Actually, lets not talk about that one. Since it’s the reason I will never again be allowed to step foot into Fox Studios…)
I could fill an entire book with stories like this, but let’s just say when your spend your entire career interviewing interesting people in unusual situations, a little colour and drama is always going to be thrown into the mix.
Although, that’s not always the case when you step into the highly controlled world of Film Press Junkets.
That world works a little like this.
Just before a movie comes out, you’ll get an invitation to attend the media day, where you’re treated to a little bit of (high controlled) face time with the celeb in question, so they can talk about the upcoming flick.
Now, I’ve never been a card carrying member of the Australian Defense Force (a shocking revelation to you, I’m sure, given the opening paragraphs to this story…) but I’m pretty sure I know how all of their events go down, because a movie junket is carried out with a similar style of military precision.
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A tiny village is erected on one of the top floors of a swanky Sydney hotel. Blocks of rooms are taken over by the production company, with some acting as offices for the media teams to work out of. Others are used as holding pens for highly caffeinated journalists who all pace about like caged, nervous performing monkeys about to be pulled into the Big Top.
Voices are hushed and harried because filming with the Big Name Star is happening just beyond the adjourning paper thin walls, and clocks are watched closer than a toddler attempting to take their first steps, because inevitably the whole situation is running quite behind schedule.
Eventually a PR person will spring you from Media Purgatory and you are then quickly ushered into a room packed to the ceiling with cameras, filming equipment and a whole lot of people whose eyes lock onto you and never leave from the moment you enter the set up.
You quickly drop into the empty chair facing the aforementioned Big Movie Star (and if you’re like me, an absurdly tall person who also insists on wearing gargantuan high heels, you’ll also knock your head on the overheard mic on the way down). Then, you have less than ten minutes to delicately extract as much information as you can under the hot lights until the camera man in front of you starts giving you the wind up sign.
It’s just the way the day has to roll in order for dozens of journalists to get their hands on content and for the actor to slam their way through as much promotion as they can in one day. But still, it’s a set up that doesn’t always lead to a whole lot of spontaneity and colour.
Except for one fateful day in late December 2017.
I was sitting there, under those hot bright lights, trying to ignore the throbbing pain of a fresh bruise on my forehead, which was courtesy of my arch nemesis the overhead mic, and conducting an interview with Julian McMahon, Guy Pearce and Jeremy Sims when things started to go a little pear shaped.
I was chatting to the actors about Swinging Safari, a hilarious new Australian movie that takes a close look at the crazy way parents used to raise their kids in the 70’s (with a must see, swinging group sex scene thrown in for good measure) when I heard a loud commotion coming from the door.
I turned around to see who had possibly dared to disrupt the sacred, highly controlled eco-system that is Media Junket City and came face to face with one Kylie Minogue.
She burst into the room in a fit of lilting laughter, followed closely by Nina Proudman (I was once told her given name is “Asher Keddie” but I’ve never been able to verify that tidbit of information) and the statuesque figure of Rahda Mitchell.
Before you get too scandalised, I should point out that they weren’t just roaming the corridors of the swish Sydney hotel like the newly formed girl band of my dreams (but, can you imagine?) and were in fact there because they also star in Swinging Safari.
I was scheduled to interview all three of them later in the day, and I had mentally prepped for that interaction to take place in a controlled environment, but there is really no way to prepare for Kylie Minogue just appearing in front of you as if out of thin air. I always thought I'd have to light a candle, recite Locomotion backwards and sacrifice a pair of gold hot pants to some unholy demon in order for that to happen.
(You can watch a brief snippet of this interview in the video playing at the bottom of this story. Please also know that some elements of the interview have been cut out to preserve the sanctity of all involved.)
The actresses, who had broken lose from their media minders, proceeded to plop themselves down on the laps of the equally shocked actors sitting across from me (coupling up in the exact same formation they do during the film's infamous swinging sex scene, we all realized after a few moments) and in that moment I officially lost the reigns of that interview and it pretty much went careening off the cliff.
It was a great way to realize that there's just not a lot you can do to prepare yourself for the task of wrangling six highly excited movie stars into place, while both a clock and a camera are ticking away.
They really should include that information in those pricey journalism degrees they make you get.
In the midst of all the mayhem Kylie Minogue, bless her perfect pop princess heart, leaned over to me and said kindly "I'm sorry, were you asking an important question?"
To which all I could think to reply was "No, Kylie Minogue, I was not."
And that, my friends, is how you learn that no matter how cut and dry your job situation seems to be, something can always go awry.
And it can start with Kylie Minogue bursting through a door.
For more content like this, you can follow Mamamia Entertainment Editor and host of The Binge podcast Laura Brodnik on Facebook.
Swinging Safari is in cinemas Australia wide from January 18.