Also a Hollywire video (same questions as THR though I don't think that has been posted either) is here.
Chicago Trib: 'Tuesday Tips: Zac Efron - Anatomy of a 5 Minute Celebrity Portrait'
Tuesday Tips - Where you learn, in all honest detail, the need for organization, planning and composure in a 5 minute portrait.
(times are approximate and quotes are paraphrased..)
9:30 a.m. Coming back from another assignment, I'm told that I would have a portrait Zac Efron at 11:00. I bemoan lack of advance notice (which had to happen for reasons too complicated to go into here). Shooting news, I need to quickly shift gears to photograph a celebrity...
9:45 a.m. - Arrive at paper and look for the tilt shift lenses in the pool locker- "Arrggh, Where did they all go?" I grab an 85mm f/1.8 lens, thinking shallow depth of field with my Canon 5DMarkII.
10:00 a.m. - Looking at websites to update myself on what Zac has been doing and what direction he might be wanting to go as an actor. Nice guy? Tough guy? Dark? Light? Serious?
10:15 a.m. - Look at recent pictures of him from a Parade shoot and at other photojournalists' celebrity portraits to get creative juices flowing. Wow, Jay Clendenin has been doing great work.
10:20 a.m. - Go down to car and rifle through all my equipment and brainstorm what I can do with equipment available. Theorize that a shallow depth of field with high speed sync of softboxes using Canon Speedlites might work. On-camera infra-red controller forms basis of shoot.
10:40 a.m. - Leave for Peninsula Hotel.
10:55 a.m. - Arrive to be greeted immediately by public relations representative. Reporter and I are ushered up to wait in the hallway outside of hotel door. Not ideal. Don't know what kind of light I'm facing, colors of walls, placement of couches, etc…But in the end, it's just a hotel room.
11:05 a.m. - Time to enter arrives. I'm given choice between entering immediately for my five minutes, or staying outside until reporter is done. Choose to wait to get softbox, stands, etc. prepared.
11:15 a.m. - Realize that the battery in the infra-red controller is dead. When did that happen? It's not AA, but I do have a replacement somewhere. I rifle through my bags, but can't find replacement battery. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH...
Basis of pre-visualized strategy is now over. P.R person asks, "All ready?" Try not to exhibit panic as I say "Almost." Right before we go in, I find my TTL off-camera cord, which I can screw into the softbox bracket. I'll have to keep it close.
11:20 a.m. - Reporter emerges from room, and I'm escorted in to meet Zac Efron and two different agents standing in a small room. I'm frustrated, sweaty and hoping I can pull this off.
I greet him as "Mr. Ephron" I figure the guy is young-looking enough that he doesn't get the formality he's due. Hope maybe the added respect will get returned in some way. I know, desperate.
As soon as I enter, an agent in the room say is "So you have five minutes, and after a few minutes we'll take a look at your pictures in your camera." I ignore the request. It's not our policy at the Tribune but I don't want a disagreement between us to create bad vibes in the room before I've even taken a picture.
11:21 a.m. - As I unfold stands, etc, I talk about how his new film looks interesting (truly). I attempt a humorous comment to soften the moment but immediately realize that humor can presume a basis of knowingness - and they don't know me from Adam. Besides, this is a serious marketing environment so humor not worth the risk. Moving on...
11:22 a.m. - Zac is a nice guy and a pro (not like he's never done this before). He asks me what I would like to do. The simplicity of a wall to my left catches my eye and I ask him to move next to it. He begins to get comfortable sitting down. I have a softbox out at that point, and it's figuring to be a Bill Coupon-style portrait. After a few frames, the agent says, "Can we see your pictures now?" I realize I can't shake the request so instead of giving an outright, "No", I respond, "No, not if I'm only getting five minutes". The onus is on her.
11:24 a.m. - We move back to the couch. I try a profile of him looking out window, but it doesn't work. Cliche. Annoying. Hotel rooms. Ugh. At this point, due to the situation of thinking on the fly, I'm drenched in sweat. I suggest he lay down (what fan of his wouldn't want to see him lying down) but he calls the idea of him laying on the couch with his arms behind his back, "cheesy." Ok, maybe it was. I still hope to get a picture from above, but they all react negatively when I suggest standing on the wood edge of a glass coffee table. Moving on..
11:25 a.m. - So I suggest shooting him over the shoulder. He's got a remarkably handsome face and that will carry the photo. The window is behind him (a good white backdrop when you expose for it), and the softbox would light him well - if it would cooperate. For some reason I can't get it to fire. P.R. person from outside steps in doorway and says, "All done?" I say "No. One more minute." Thankfully, she agreed. And the flash finally fired.
11:26 a.m. - I say I'm done. "Thank you, Mr. Efron" He was cordial in his goodbye as he was in his greeting.
11:28 a.m. - Outside I make an appeal to the public relations representative that these five minute portraits should be longer. That it's good for everyone - the newspaper, the celebrity, the photographer. Can we make a paradigm shift? She responds, understanding my frustration, that 15 different media entities want access to the celebrity and this is one city of many on a tour. She is given a certain amount of time to work with, and the amount of time is determined by dividing it up equally. So the lack of time really comes down to geography.
I remember the celebrity portraits I've done where I've been afforded more time. They generally happen in the person's hometown, or home. In Los Angeles where many celebrities live, you might get more time or opportunities.
Moreover, in a hotel room his handlers have a controlled setting. If he were to leave that room, she says, he would get mobbed. The interview by the reporter, in fact, confirms how Zac Efron has become something of a ninja to get around incognito.
Sadly, it all makes sense. The 5 minute hotel room portrait.
Here to stay.
Once goofy Zac Efron gets serious about movies
Out with the singing, dancing, goofy Zac Efron of old.
At 22, the tween heart-throb of Disney's bubbly "High School Musical" franchise says he wants to get serious, slow down and find out just what he's made of.
Efron takes on his most dramatic role to date by playing a young man tortured by his kid brother's death in "Charlie St. Cloud," which opens in U.S. movie theaters on Friday.
Based on Ben Sherwood's novel "The Death of Charlie St. Cloud", the movie sees Efron become a caretaker at a cemetery who plays catch every night with his brother's spirit -- who only he can see.
Five years later when a girl comes into his life, Charlie must choose between staying loyal to his dead brother, or moving on with his life and pursuing the girl he loves.
For Efron -- who found fame as the floppy-haired star of the "High School Musical" trilogy and went on to appear in the comedies "Hairspray" and "17 Again" -- working on "Charlie" was a chance to challenge his young fans to see him in a new light and attract new viewers "who weren't necessarily my fan base," Efron told Reuters.
But most of all, it was an opportunity for the actor to challenge himself.
"On 'Charlie St. Cloud,' I couldn't rely on things I did before," Efron said. "Because usually in between takes, I'm goofing off. I'm the guy who's looking forward to the ping pong game while the crew is setting up the lights. I had to leave all that behind and focus."
TURNING DOWN THE SPOTLIGHT
That meant inhabiting a character who spends much of his time grief-stricken, conflicted and emotionally damaged.
"There were real hard times that we had to get through; weeks of dramatic scenes every day," said Efron. "But I had something to prove to myself. 'Could I do this? Could I not just be a goofball all the time?'"
The film also proves to Efron that he should follow his gut instinct when it comes to his career. In 2007, the actor famously signed on to star in a remake of the 1984 classic musical "Footloose." A few months later, he just as famously dropped out.
"After 'High School Musical' and then with 'Footloose,' there was an opportunity to continue down that path," said Efron. "They said 'If you do this, you'll hit another home run. You can keep this incredible thing that's going on.'"
However, "this incredible thing" didn't feel so incredible to Efron. He felt the glare of the spotlight was coming on a bit too strong, making him wonder if the intensity of it was "going to be like this forever."
"There was a part of me that really wanted to slow down and take a step back," Efron said. "I said no (to 'Footloose'). because I can't do something I know I can do. I want to take a risk and try something new that may or may not work."
In February, the actor started his own production company called Ninjas Runnin' Wild. The company is already developing several projects for Efron, including an action thriller and a time travel story.
While some of his male counterparts are gunning to star in comic book adaptations such as "X-men: First Class," and the next "Spider-Man" movie, due out in 2012, Efron is the first to admit he doesn't yet deserve to be considered for those roles.
"All the guys doing comic book movies have already proven themselves in other genres, paid their dues and delivered on so many levels," said Efron. "I can't define what makes someone deserve it, but I feel like I'm not there yet."
But he certainly hopes to get there one day.
"I've got a game plan and I'm starting to figure it all out," said Efron. "I've got the production company and it feels like I have some control over it all. And any element of control in this business is very, very comforting."
MTV: Staying Relevant
E! Video: whole interview I guess
Fan Video at Today Show
BabyCenter blog interview
Charlie St. Cloud:
Can Zac Efron really act? It’s the question everyone is waiting for an answer to. The 22-year-old, known by tweens everywhere as Troy from High School Musical, sat down with me and a group of ‘mommy bloggers’ recently to discuss his new movie Charlie St. Cloud.
I screened the movie while on my trip – and was impressed. Expecting only a tear-jerking romantic flick, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and beauty of the story in front of me. Zac plays Charlie, a promising sailor whose life comes to a devastating halt when his younger brother (played by Charlie Tahan) is killed in a car accident.
Before our scheduled interview with both actors together I was concerned about how Zac would seem in person. Would someone so well known for their looks (see People’s hottest bodies of 2010 if you are unfamiliar) come off as stuck up or haughty? Thankfully, no.
He was engaging, charismatic, and…this is the part that got me…wonderfully supportive of his 12-year-old co-star. At every opportunity Zac turned the questions we asked to Charlie first and supported his young, ungroomed answers. While talking about the off-screen bonding that made their on-screen relationship so believable, Zac unthinkingly edged his chair toward Charlie’s and rested his arm across the back. A small gesture that spoke loudly and had me joining the ranks of Zac fans worldwide.
Amazingly neither Zac nor Charlie had previous sailing experience before being chosen for their roles.
How did you make sailing so easy?
Charlie (laughing): It was really not that easy!
Zac: When you are filming on the water, there is a lot of sun and constant motion. It is real tough. You think you are doing something right, but you are doing something completely wrong. I had never been sailing before. I had been on a sail boat. Maybe my dad and his friends took me one time. I was [Charlie's age] and thought the below deck was really cool. I don’t really remember it. We can both sail now. If we went out on one of those little skiffs we could probably both sail.
How did you guys build such a believable brother relationship?
Charlie: Fooling around off set!
Zac: He would dive bomb me off set. We had a blast! Remember that one time we gave you an energy drink?
Charlie: That was so funny. I just crashed an hour later.
Zac. They were Red Bull type energy drinks. They were organic, though. It was the car scene and it was like 3 in the morning. We just chugged those energy drinks and for three takes we were bouncing off the walls! Cut to 10 minutes later and he was like…snoring.
How did you both prepare emotionally for this role? Dealing with death and dying?
Zac (who has an 18-year-old brother named Dylan): When I read the script, it was something I noticed, everyone at some point in their life experiences loss and has to go through that. I think everyone has also seen that person who has never really been able to bounce back from that and when I looked at the character and what was happening, it was very easy for me to picture my life without my brother and how that would make me feel and that guilt and that responsibility. I feel very responsible for my brother and I try and protect him every chance I get. I’m very protective over him and just thought in some ways whatever it took to think about leaving him behind, is all that I needed to get there emotionally. And not to mention he looks a lot like him [points at Charlie].
Which scene was the most fun for you to film?
Charlie – The rain scene. (Think wake-boarding in a forest during a torrential downpour.)
Zac – I really liked the scene at the beginning of the movie where we were playing catch on the street. I just think for some reason there was something about that location that was really beautiful and it brought me back to playing catch with my dad which are some of my fondest memories, I think. That’s exactly what we would do – we’d just go into the street and play catch. It was just so real and I haven’t seen that in movies a whole heck of a lot.
Have your moms seen the movie?
Charlie: Yes, there were a couple of times we both cried. When we were exiting the woods and there was violin music, I saw one little tear.
Zac: My mom has not seen it yet. But she cries a lot in movies.
Charlie: My mom cries at everything. She cried at the end of the Sponge Bob movie.
Zac, do you have any advice for Charlie as a seasoned veteran of the industry?
Zac: I’m a seasoned veteran? (laughs) I think he has everything he needs. Just don’t change. He knows what he is doing. He is already present. He is leaps and bounds from where I was when I started. Just stick to your guns, man.