Monday, 15 August 2011

Autograph seller v's a Collector

Slowly I am beginning to understand the whys and what for’s of autograph collecting and selling. The 'Big screen exhibition' at the O2 arena promoting movies like 'MIB 3' is ideal for autograph collectors. It was a three day event, but I wanted to see if I could get Jason Momoa autograph from 'Conan the Barbarian (2011)' and David Tennant’s autograph who was promoting 'Fright Night' . Sadly I failed because of the autograph sellers. The autograph sellers surrounded Jason Momoa so fans did not stand a chance. There were no barriers to protect the star just two security guards.  A push and shove nearly lead to actual fans and security getting hurt. So from that incident Jason sent word via a PR that he would not be returning nor doing any further signings. David Tennant had left a message with security staff he would not be doing autographs today also. So the sellers had spoilt it for fans, but not for them. It means people will buy the autograph rather than get it for free. Whilst stars refuse to sign it puts the price tag up on existing signatures.  

On arriving at the exhibit the security guard from the ‘Cowboys and Aliens’ premiere approached me. He asked if Sophia enjoyed the movie and was pleased we had such a fantastic day. We discussed that day’s events and the fact the autograph sellers that harass the stars for several signatures make it hard for collectors. I explained to him the value of each autograph and he was surprised they were selling so high. He also mentioned that Clint Eastwood and a few others now refuse to do autographs. This is understandable, but like I said to the security guard it has now made me even more curious to know more about this side of the entertainment industry.

When you say autograph collector the image is of a young screaming fan, but autograph sellers are far from that description. They wear clothes that need either throwing or a wash. Their teeth are missing and they look rougher than rough. You would honestly believe these guys are sleeping in the gutter. I am uncomfortable around them so lord knows how these movie stars feel.

If such a large sum of money is being made from selling autographs then why don’t they buy a suit and fix their teeth. Or is this all part of the deception of autograph sellers that they do not want to come across as if they are making cash.

As I wandered up to Warwick Davis who was in ‘Harry potter’ & ‘Star Wars’ you could see the stress he was under at another request of his autograph. The man blended into the crowd until the autograph sellers spotted him. The autograph sellers have handfuls of photos and they were slamming them under his face to sign. I with my autograph book approached calmly and asked could you please sign this for me and politely said thank you. He looked up and smiled because no-one else had taken the time to be polite to him. As he made a dash for a door to escape the crowds my heart honestly went out to him. Yes he is a star and he gets paid lots of money, but I feel sad for these people. Then as I walk round collecting autographs from ‘Shawn Levy, Jeremy Irvine, Noel Clarke & Gareth Edwards’ I realise this is all a part and bargin of the fame process, but where are the real fans? Well they are actually watching on because most the time they are children too scared to approach. They, like me have manners and don’t want to intrude. It takes time for them to build up the courage to ask. Mean time the autograph sellers are taking the opportunity to get as many signatures as possible.

When speaking to security I asked is there any way of vetting the crowds so the autograph sellers don’t have full access to all the events. Can’t the security separate the fans from the sellers? He could only say if it was down to him then he would, but in reality it is hard to do. I replied well not from where I am looking these people stand out a mile. He smiled as a gaggle of the sellers clucking to each other walked by.

As I walked home I remember why I started the whole process of collecting autographs. It orginally was not for me, but to give others who raise money for charities a signature that is real and direct from me free of charge of a A lister. The only problem with this is you need to authenticate the signature because people need to know it is not forged or copied. This leads to other issues in fact it is a mined field, but my curiosty to break into this silent world because people are secretive is spurring me on. Not only that, but it is a distraction from my cancer journey.

Director Shawn Levy 'Real Steal'

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