Event: Playing It Loud At Monmouth U
On a chilly Sunday afternoon, a capacity crowd filled the 700-seat Pollack Theater on the campus of Monmouth University on to watch the big-screen screening of Netflix’s Springsteen on Broadway.
Little did they know that the man they were watching on screen was also sitting in the audience.
Monmouth University president Grey Dimenna and long-time Springsteen videographer and director of the Netflix film, Thom Zimny, hosted the free event that was open to the public, though tickets had to be reserved in advance.
They both said a few words before the film rolled, each expressing how thrilled they were that the screening was happening at the Pollack, the very place where Bruce did a dry-run of the show that would run for 236 sold-out performances at the 960-seat Walter Kerr Theater.
Before leaving the stage to let the film roll, Thom had two words of advice: Enjoy the film since it was special to him, and to play it loud.
It was then Bruce came in. The star of the film, baseball cap pulled low, slipped in to his middle seat, rear center, after the lights went down. He sat with Zimny, and his long-time manager Barbara Carr.
About 20 minutes prior, I had was in the theater as it was filling up. I started to go out a side door which I thought would take me to a hallway and allow me to loop around to my gear bag without having to go through the people again.
As I pushed a curtain aside that was in front of the door, a security guard said “Let me just see if photographer can go back there.” I was caught off guard for a second but said “Oh, ok.”
He then pushed open the door to speak with someone in the hallway. When he did, I looked through the window of the other bank of doors, and saw Bruce standing there. Black leather jacket, dark blue jeans, hands in his pockets, baseball cap on.
Security guard came back and said “Uh, you have to go around.” I said “Yeah, sorry about that.”
So, I knew Bruce was in the house. The question was, could I get a nice photo of him at some point.
When you there to shoot a movie screening, once the movie begins, there’s not much to do, especially when it’s 2.5 hours, except watch the film. Which I had already seen.
I did try to get some shots of the filled auditorium, which was difficult, even with pushing my ISO high. It’s an intimate, closely shot film. Not much extra light filtering back on the crowd like a John Huston western would give.
As the film was ending, I positioned myself in the aisle near where Bruce had come in. I thought he’d either leave while the film was still rolling in the dark, or maybe hang out a a bit afterwards.
If the former happened, I’d have no shot. If the latter happened, I might have a shot.
The film ended and the house lights dimly came up. Bruce waited a couple of minutes, then made his way into the aisle and the door. Bruce shook hands with fans on the way out, many of whom were surprised to see the star in their midst.
It was during this time that I thought I might get something – a face in the crowd maybe.
Nope. Nothing. The light was still too dim, both my Canon and Fuji were hunting to focus.
I hung around the Pollack for awhile, thinking maybe he’d show up someplace and I’d get the shot. It was not to be.
Maybe I should have moved up to the doorway, got myself into better position.
I’m no paparazzi but probably could have done a better job.
Just one decent click would have been neat.
I thought about all this as I drove a few miles up the way to swing by the Windmill. This is a classic NJ hot dog stand that always merits a visit, even if you don’t go in. And, just a few blocks from the Windmill is the little beach cottage where Bruce wrote Born To Run on a piano, in the front room.
No Bruce at the Pollack, post-film. No Bruce at the Windmill. He was gone, like a spirit in the night.
Me, I swung the truck around, pointed it in the direction of Interstate 195 West, and headed up the black highway back home.
© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2019