Regardless of my groupie-dom, Teenage Paparazzo is an enjoyable film reflecting on the nature of celebrity, society’s insatiable appetite for gossip, why we care about people we don’t actually know…and what constitutes ‘good’ parenting.
Austin Visschedyk is 13 years old, lives in West Hollywood…and earns a living braving the paparazzi crush with grown men as he photographs celebrities. One day he shoots Adrian Grenier, who realises that this blond-haired kid isn’t just doing it for kicks – he’s a serious paparazzo.
So Adrian asks Austin whether he can do a documentary following Austin into the world of professional celebrity stalking. It’s quite unnerving watching this blond-haired kid talk like an adult, swagger like an adult and his determination and focus as he sprints across the city at all hours of the night staking out nightclubs and private residences. It’s also interesting to see Austin receive a taste of his own medicine as he becomes more famous and as a camera crew follow his movements.
Along the way Grenier explores a world obsessed with celebrities and fame – and at one stage he jumps to the other side, going undercover as a paparazzo for a day just to see why and how they do it. The documentary interviews celebrities, journalists, paparazzo, and most interestingly for me, Austin’s parents. Because the film doesn’t just talk about what it’s like to be a celebrity, or what it’s like to shoot celebrities – there’s a very interesting power balance between Austin and his mother, who believes that Austin should be allowed to be provided with the freedom to work as a paparazzo at 2am despite still being a teenager.
You’re not going to come away from Teenage Paparazzo with amazing insights, but it’s an entertaining film coming from someone who’s part of the celebrity game about the celebrity game.
Here’s a list of what else I’m seeing at MIFF this year.