SANTA MONICA, California — At an age when most people are playing Xbox and avoiding their parents’ pleas to take out the trash, 18-year-old Ontario, Canada, photographer Joey Lawrence has been training his unique eye on the likes of Disturbed and Panic at the Disco.
Now, the in-demand talent has landed the high-profile gig of shooting the movie posters for “Twilight.” MTV News has your first look at the one-sheet you’ll soon want hanging above your bed, as well as an exclusive interview with the teen artist.
He’s not to be confused with that other Joey Lawrence, but read on for his thoughts about the “Twilight” fanbase, the scene he got to watch on set, and the brand-new poster that has us all saying, “Whoa!”
MTV: So, Joey, how did you get started?
Joey Lawrence: Well, I started making movies when I was 7 years old, being chased by dinosaur puppets. Little home movies. And I took some photographs of some local bands for a while. Slowly, the bands got a little bigger, more recognizable, and now I shoot everything from movie posters to musicians as well.
MTV: Before you were approached, were you aware of the “Twilight” phenomenon?
Lawrence: No, I didn’t know much about the books. But when I told some friends of mine that this next assignment coming up was “Twilight,” I had one girl who was like, “Oh my God! You’ve got to bring me! I love ’Twilight’! I love Edward! He’s so hot!”
MTV: There are a lot of people who feel very passionately about this universe.
Lawrence: That’s right. And you have to be careful when dealing with a movie like this, because if you make the fanbase mad, they’re going to, like, trample you. [Laughs.]
MTV: Take us through your thought process as you were trying to design the first-ever poster for that fanbase.
Lawrence: Well, obviously the main thing for this poster was the interaction between Bella and Edward. Because in the movie, he’s protective of her, he plays a more protective role, so that was why in the poster, you see he’s kind of looming over and watching out for her. Also, she can’t appear to be weak of character, and it can’t look like a normal kind of love poster, because obviously he’s a vampire. [I decided to] light it pretty dark as well, to match the mood of vampires.
MTV: Why do you think Catherine Hardwicke, or Summit [Entertainment, the production company behind “Twilight”], picked you over all the other people who do this for a living?
Lawrence: It was Summit. I think the reason why they chose me is because they have such a young cast, and they really wanted a young photographer as well. In my portfolio, I have one picture of a guy who’s in a car; it’s lit the exact way that they wanted [the poster]. So they saw that picture, and this [became] my first movie poster.
MTV: As you walk into movie lobbies and see your poster, or know that it’s thumbtacked to the walls of a thousand teen bedrooms, how much of a dream come true will that be?
Lawrence: It’s cool. I got to check out the set … and they had it set up where it was that scene, I think it’s the final scene of the movie, where they get to crash through the floorboards. I got to see the floorboards messed up. It was cool to visit the movie set and see how it all goes down.
MTV: One of the most noticeable things in the poster is Edward’s eyes. Was he really wearing those contacts, or is there some visual trickery that makes them so vivid?
Lawrence: No, his contacts were in. They’re kind of weird, because once you bring them into the sunlight, the maximum effect is there, and they’re really bright orange. They still look natural in real life, but a little bit eerie, because they’re really dark.
MTV: So you just naturally captured the look of those contacts? You didn’t enhance the photo?
Lawrence: No, I think it’s pretty enhanced in the poster. But that’s advertising. [Laughs.]
MTV: I’ve been to enough photo shoots over the years to be amazed by how talkative a photographer has to be. You have to just keep yapping, making them at ease, making them laugh. What kind of things did you say to Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart ?
Lawrence: Well, how I like to work is [a bit different]. Lots of photographers like to hide behind cameras and stuff, but I keep the camera pretty stable. It was all shot on seamless, so I had a wireless remote, and I could bark things out at them as we were going.
MTV: Was there a lot of barking involved?
Lawrence: No, they were pretty good by themselves. I just told them, “Be in character.” I wanted them to be themselves in the movie. And they got it.
MTV: When you say “seamless,” is that the equivalent of what us movie fans would call CGI?
Lawrence: Yeah, but it’s not a green screen. Because of the schedule, and you have so many different actors and many different variations for the posters, the best way to shoot everything at once in one day is just on a seamless background. You light it the way that they’re going to digitally comp [in backgrounds], and you just do different styles of lighting. … We had one darker setup and one lighter setup. So we had one person go here and do different things, then you bring them to the darker set, so things can go really fast.
MTV: Kristen and Robert seem to have such a natural chemistry . Were they kidding with each other as much as MTV saw on our set visit?
Lawrence: Yeah, they joked a bit. There were a few snapshots of them laughing here and there, because they were like, “Oh, we’re cuddling close.”
MTV: It must be hard to create the look of genuine, sincere, Romeo-and-Juliet-like love during a photo shoot.
Lawrence: Yeah, well there was also, like, 30 people watching! So it must be difficult for them, when I’m also there with a remote, like, “That looks good!” But they’re professional actors, so they were able to make it look convincing.
MTV: You’re 18 years old. Does that usually help or hurt you professionally?
Lawrence: It can do both. People are trusting you with such a huge job, and most 18-year-olds who I know, I don’t know if you’d want to trust them with a big job like this. But for this job, I’d say it worked in my favor being 18 years old, because it’s a pretty young cast, so I’m sure they wanted someone cool and in the same age group, not some old dude snapping pictures, being like, “Yeah! Get closer!” [Laughs.]
MTV: A lot of teenagers will read this interview and think, “Why does he have such a cool job while I’m bagging groceries?”
Lawrence: Yeah, well, the best way to do it I guess is to not act like you’re 18. And push for it, as if you were some old, starving guy.
MTV: Have you ever been on a gig and run into trouble because someone suddenly realized your age?
Lawrence: Actually, a lot of the shoots that I go on, people think I’m the assistant at first. [Laughs.]
MTV: Have your friends who are “Twilight” fans been bugging you for details ever since you got this job?
Lawrence: Well, that one girl, she really wants to see the pictures, but obviously I can’t send them to her yet, or they might leak all over the Internet.
MTV: We have footage of you shooting Rachelle Lefevre and several of the other “Twilight” stars. Who was your favorite?
Lawrence: Oh, who’s the guy who plays Jasper?
MTV: Jackson Rathbone?
Lawrence: Yeah, Jackson Rathbone is the coolest dude! He was bouncing around. There are shots, just outtakes, that are so ridiculous of him. Since it was shot on seamless, we had props for them to sit on, because they were going to be digitally comped somewhere else later. So we had apple boxes, and shots of him, like, hiding behind the apple box — just ridiculous things.
MTV: And I’ve got to flip the question: Who was the most difficult person to shoot?
Lawrence: Um … [Laughs.] They were all pretty cool.
Every Tuesday is “Twilight Tuesday” here at MTV News! Check back here each and every week for the hottest scoop on the film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s beloved vampire series, and we’ll still bring you breaking “Twilight” news throughout the rest of the week. And make sure you check out the MTV Movies Blog for our ongoing “Twilight” discussions each and every day.
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