You have to thank HBO for giving us two documentaries in a year about photographers who chase celebrities. The first was Smash His Camera, Leon Gast’s striking portrait of Ron Galella who gained fame for stalking Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at her Fifth Avenue apartment, in Central Park or wherever her publicists clued him in to her presence.
The symbiotic relationship between celebrities and Papparazzi is explored more deeply in Teenage Papparazzo, an imaginative self-reflective docu (that’s HBO Docs boss Sheila Nevins’ term) by actor Adrian Garnier, who became a celebrity for starring in HBO’s drama series Entourage. Product placement alert! He promotes his celebrity status while critiquing it. By examining celebrity photographers he also examines documentary filmmakers’ often tense collaborations with their subjects.
Garnier easily calls upon other celebrities like Paris Hilton to join him to intentionally run the gauntlet of papparazzi. He even takes up the camera to see what it’s like from the other side, and surprises a few celebrity friends.
For a sometime documentary director, it’s an astonishing feat doubtless pulled off with technical pizazz provided by HBO Docs’ experienced team and his own Hollywood connections, but it’s Garnier’s determined curiosity that shines. He explores what we have become as a society when more of our youth would rather become famous than competent professionals or leaders.