As many of you know, I attended an early, private screening of Channing Tatum's movie 'Stop-Loss' last week in Houston, and it was honestly one of the most awesome experiences I've had since I started Channing Tatum Unwrapped.
First of all, I can't thank Kimberly Peirce and Paramount enough for allowing me to attend the early screening. If you want to hear about my adventures hanging out with Kimberly and Channing's co-star Victor Rasuk, keep reading. If you are going to be in the Houston area next Tuesday night and just want to learn how to win tickets to an early, private screening of Channing Tatum's upcoming drama 'Stop-Loss', you have permission to skip to the end of this article.
So here's how the amazing event went for this screening newbie...
When I got to the theater I let the ticket taker know that I was a part of the Paramount event. Because it was a private screening, the film was not listed on the marqee. Paranoid me was worried I had the wrong theater or wrong night and was about to be embarrassingly turned away from the venue. Luckily, that didn't happen.
She asked me if I was on the list, and I happily told her I was (since that's what I had been told by Paramount). It was my first time being able to say that, so I was stoked. She then told me the event was in theater 23 and allowed me to enter into the wing of the complex that had been shut down just for the special screening.
As I walked into the theater, I could see images of soldiers on the screen as songs from the film's upcoming soundtrack played. I noticed a reserved area that had signs on seats with people's names. Initially, it did not even occur to me to look in that section. Then something told me to just check and to my complete surprise, there was a chair with my name on. On top of that, my chair was 3 seats down from director Kimberly Peirce and 2 seats down from Chan's co-star Victor Rasuk. Neither of which had arrived yet, but I can't even explain how cool that was to realize what being "on the list" meant. I of course had to take pictures of it, because I didn't know if that would ever happen again, and this fan girl wanted to immortalize it.
Once Kimberly and Victor arrived, they introduced the movie and let us know a little bit about why she created it. Based on the experiences of her brother Brett and countless other soldiers that Kimberly interviewed while researching the film, the bottom line is that 'Stop-Loss' is a pro-soldier film that focuses on the harsh realities that exist for our brave men and women (both wounded and able-bodied) and their loved ones when they return home from war and try to adjust back into their lives.
I can't say enough good things about this film. Unlike other movies in it's genre, it does not force a political agenda on the movie goer. I really loved how it focused on the characters and the strong camaraderie among the soldiers both in combat and when they returned home. Channing truly excelled in his performance as the hunky, yet hot-headed, career soldier Steve Striver that finds a sense of purpose in the military and tries to look after his buddies both in and out of combat. As I mentioned a few days ago, I was moved by the film and was a complete crying mess by the end. Much like we all loved Chan's dramatic performance in 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints', I predict that Steve Shriver will quickly become one of fan's favorite characters.
After the screening, I was standing in line to get a the poster signed so I could give it away in the latest CTU contest. Someone in line asked me what I did, and I said that I ran Channing Tatum's official site. In a moment that I'll never forget, Channing's co-star Victor Rasuk looks up from the poster he was signing for a fan, puts on a huge smile and says, "You do Unwrapped? I've heard so much about that site!" It was crazy to me that he had any clue what CTU was, and I was totally flattered.
When I finally got to meet Kimberly, she was extremely gracious. Being able to meet such a talented director and self-professed cultural anthropologist who is clearly passionate about her work was a HUGE honor. If that wasn't enough, she even invited me to hang out with her and Victor at their press junket where they were interviewed by Houston media.
I was able to sit in on the interviews and even ask a couple of questions myself. When the real reporters were escorted out by the publicist running the event, I was allowed to hang around until they all had to leave for the airport to go to Dallas, city #20 in the 22 city tour. Although the special treatment was neither expected nor required, I can say from the bottom of my heart that it was truly appreciated.
Now on to my questions...When you see the film, it's impossible not to notice the camaraderie between the all of the soldiers in the cast. The week long boot camp the cast attended prior to shooting was one of the big reasons why the guys all bonded so well on camera, so I asked Victor what was the most difficult part for him. He said that boot camp was difficult, because the competition level between the cast members was extremely high. Although he was one of the youngest actors on set, he had a hard time keeping up with Channing Tatum and Ryan Phillippe at camp. I'm actually not surprised. Prior to boot camp, Chan was going on 6 mile runs to make sure he was prepared for whatever they would threw at him.
From Kimberly, I learned that, in addition to boot camp, she helped along the camaraderie on set by casting actors that share a lot of the qualities of their characters. Ryan Phillippe, the leader of the crew both on and off screen, was chosen for his fatherly nature. Victor Rasuk, the jokester, was a lot like his happy-go-lucky character Rico and Channing had no trouble portraying his hunky, "can kick your butt at any moment" character Steve. This approach to casting allowed the guys to fall into their roles more easily and made the character-driven storyline even more believable.
IN HOUSTON, TX
When I get to have these kind of adventures, I often feel like I somehow got Charlie's golden ticket and Willy Wonka decided to give the Chocolate Factory to me instead.
What makes my experiences even better, is when I get to share them with all of you. Which is why it's exciting for me to let you know that Paramount is allowing me to invite fans to an upcoming early screening of 'Stop-Loss'. The screening will take place in Houston, TX this coming Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 7:30pm.
If you are interested in attending, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I have approximately 10 pairs of tickets to give away, and I will give them to fans on a first-come-first-serve basis. Send in your requests ASAP, so I can have Paramount add you to the screening list.
All of Channing Tatum's Fabulous Fans at the screening will get to sit in the best seats in the theater in a reserved area for special guests and press, so it should be a lot of fun everyone!!!
I would like to give a HUGE thanks to Paramount and the amazing publicists at Levenson & Hill for giving Channing's fans this awesome opportunity to see the movie early and FREE!!!!