This scene in New York Doll always gets one of the biggest laughs… and to think I almost missed it!
Back in 2004, I was shooting the first documentary I had ever worked on called New York Doll. I did it as a favor for a colleague and friend, Greg Whiteley. Little did I know at the time that it was going to be a bit of a big deal. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should check it out. It’s available on Netflix. So there is this scene in the movie where Arthur is getting ready for the concert at Royal Festival Hall in London. We see him previously talking about what he might wear to the show and then we see him emerge from the hotel lobby elevator with the above pictured “puffy shirt.” (I actually, only now, looked up a photo from the Seinfeld “puffy shirt” episode and never realized how close to the shirt this actually was.)
At every screening I’ve been to, whether a theater full of people or some friends in a living room, this scene always gets one of the biggest laughs… and to think I almost missed it! Just moments before this scene, I was at Royal Festival Hall setting up for the concert when Greg called me and said something to the effect of, “I need you to get here… NOW.” Okay. So I started to pack up my stuff which I had just set up. It wasn’t much really: a bulky camera bag backpack thing, Greg’s DVX-100, and a tripod. I began heading over to the hotel briskly by foot. To get an idea of the distance I had to go in zero time, take a look at this map. Royal Festival Hall doesn’t look too far from the hotel we were all staying at; but by foot, lugging an ever-increasingly-heavy box of equipment on my back, and not enough time to get there, it was pretty far.
Maybe a third of the way over, Greg called again asking for an update. I said, “I’m on my way.” “Hurry,” he said. So I started running faster.
About two thirds there, Greg called again. “Where are you? We are going to miss this.”
“I’M RUNNING!!!” Okay, maybe I didn’t say that to him, but that’s how my memory prefers to play the scene.
So I got to the hotel and made my way to the elevator. I had called Greg en route in the hotel, telling him I’d arrived. When I got there, I was in a sweat. I saw that the elevator was coming down and started rolling tape (yeah, tape).
The elevator doors opened and there was Arthur in that shirt. I wanted to laugh out loud but had to constrain myself to an inward chuckle. I followed him out to the van, all the way to Royal Festival Hall where I had started my sprint.
The van ride was much more pleasant.