| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Jan 11 As one of the entertainment
industry's most sought-after photographers, Kevin Mazur is
training his lens on fellow photographers who traffic in the
high-stakes game of capturing images of Hollywood stars as they
go about their everyday lives.
Mazur, a Rolling Stone magazine staffer who has shot bands
including U2 and Bon Jovi and also is the co-founder of photo
agency WireImage, makes his directorial debut with "$ellebrity,"
which opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday.
He spoke to Reuters about the documentary, the rise of the
paparazzi in Hollywood and how the nature of fame has changed.
Q: You chose a subject you were familiar with for your first
outing as a filmmaker. What point did you want to get across?
A: "I wanted to create a roundtable discussion about our
culture's obsession with celebrity. We wanted to give the
audience a behind-the-scenes look at celebrity gossip, tabloids
and fame. We go from the moment a photograph is taken all the
way through to the billion-dollar industry that produces the
images you see on the glossy magazines."
Q: You used your relationship with celebrities like Jennifer
Aniston, Salma Hayek and Sarah Jessica Parker to appear in the
film. Did you have specific topics in mind for each of them?
A: "I wanted to talk about children issues with Sarah
Jessica Parker because I knew what she went through every day,
leaving her house to bring her son to school. Her kid shouldn't
be exposed to (the paparazzi frenzy). That's a big issue for me
as a father and a parent. I don't care if you're a celebrity,
the child should not be photographed. I also wanted to talk to
Salma Hayek because she lives in France, and you can't
photograph children in France. And Jennifer Aniston is
constantly in the tabloids, so I wanted to talk to her."
Q: Do you think legitimate photographers like yourself are
seen more negatively because of the antics of paparazzi?
A: "No. There's still the hard-core press photographers and
professional photographers. But now with technology, it makes it
easier for ordinary people to pick up a camera, stand outside a
celebrity's home or a place they're eating at, snap pictures and
give it to an agency. The big thing now are cell phones, and we
talk about that in the film. Ordinary people are now becoming
Q: Do you sympathize with celebrities or photographers?
A: "Celebrities. We talk to a lot of celebrities and they
understand it's part of the business. Some of the paparazzi are
good guys, but some are so aggressive, they like to get into the
celebrity's face and start a confrontation."
Q: Criminal charges filed against a photographer who pursued
pop star Justin Bieber at high speed on a Los Angeles freeway
last summer were thrown of court in November. Thoughts on that?
A: "It's a double-edged sword. You're treading on the First
Amendment (of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing freedom of
speech). The same law that protects the paparazzi also protects
the celebrities who can perform and do whatever they want on
Q: Didn't Princess Diana's death in 1997 (from injuries
sustained in a car crash while being chased by paparazzi) change
the way paparazzi conducted themselves?
A: "After Princess Diana, everything died down a little and
the paparazzi started behaving. But then magazines like Us,
People and OK! started competing for photos, and the paparazzi
craze got out of control again. More photo agencies were popping
up here in the United States and a lot of photographers were
leaving Europe to move here."
Q: How has the profession evolved since you first started?
A: "I've been doing this for 30 years and it has changed for
the worse. I think it has a lot do with technology. Back in the
day you had to wait to get a magazine and see the pictures. The
Internet brought it all into overdrive and sped things up to
everybody's demands of getting their celebrity information
quicker. There's Twitter, Instagram. Everything is instant and
pretty much live right now."
Q: What new information can celebrity know-it-all's get from
watching your documentary?
A: "I don't think a lot of people out there know where all
these images come from. I wanted to take the viewer through the
whole process, show them the difference between photographers
and how the images get out there. It's a roller coaster ride
about celebrity. When you walk away from the film, you'll think
twice when you pick up a magazine and say, 'Where did that photo
really come from?'"
(Reporting By Zorianna Kit, editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Will