A taste of BotCon, sorta...
(Sydney Advance Screening of the Transformers Movie and Press Conference.)
PART ONE

(note - any photos not belonging to me are noted, and none are to be used without prior permission from me or the other owners)

Intro.
For years I've wanted the local fans who can't afford the expense of BotCon to know what it feels like, and Paramount managed to do it with this two day event.  The general atmosphere and excitement by a hoard of fans over a matter of hours is what BotCon is like over a matter of days, and to see the look on the faces of certain fans, who just couldn't get enough of it all, was priceless.  We had guests, a movie screening, heaps of fans mingling in the one place, and a guest panel (press conference) - all we needed was an exclusive toy and it could have been called a convention.
Admittedly, the Tuesday event started out a bit lame with the MC trying to hype up a 'crowd' of about 10 people, but within an hour there were fans everywhere, soaking it all in and having a great time.  And then there was that overwhelming anticipation by the committed Transformers fans that they were soon to be the first in the world to see the biggest thing in Transformers since it began 23 years ago.

Pre-event.
It all started quite simply really.  After seeing on an American forum that there was an advance screening of the Transformers Movie in this country, I merely rang Paramount back on June 1st to ask if it was true, plus to point out that their Australian Movie website kept spelling 'Decepticon' wrong.  Later that day I got an email from the Promotions company handling the event, with an offer to attend the movie screening.  I was also asked to offer seats to up to 40 fans to the press conference (got 18 names, but only about 10 were able to make it).  The PR company were also allocating Movie tickets to each of the main fan forums (from the competition which people had to name the forum they were from), including Ozformers, TAAU, Seibertron, and probably TFW2005, as well as some computer geek forums (for the CGI element of the movie and the Game). With about a week before the event I knew that fans dirge and Goktimus were going to be there, and I made flight and work arrangements to be in Sydney for the two days.  Right up until the 6th when I booked the flight, I still wasn't believing it.

Copy of the html invite that was emailed to me and others (most would have 'admit two' on them).

Day one - Tuesday 12th June.
Probably one of the few times I actually wasn't rushing to get to the airport because I made sure I had to be ready to go an hour before I needed to be.  I was not going to miss it over something stupid like being late for the plane.
Flew into Sydney at about 2.30pm, met up with dirge in the CBD a little after 4pm and we both went to Central station to meet Goktimus about quarter to five. We took a bus to the Fox studios, and walked to the venue to find that the MC had already started his routine to hype the 'crowd' (there were only about a dozen people there by 5.15-ish). We checked in and got our passes, and I took some photos of the 'red' carpet (it was camo green) area. I checked out the 'win $25 grand' competition but they wouldn't let you hand in the entry until between 6.30 and 7pm (which was about the time we were expected to be going into the theatre).
The MC on the microphone was sporadically giving away passes to the screening, passes to the movie at any theatre, and some other passes to nearby venues. The camo carpet was fenced off on both sides, with the media on one side and the fans/public on the other. At the entrance to the cinema, there was a black Hummer with 'Transformers' painted over it.

The marshalling area and check-in table for the 'important' people. Us fans had to report to some PR people off to one side.

The competition booth (could fill out the entry forms at any time, but only submit them during 6.30 and 7pm).

Some photos of the location before it got dark, taken by Board member Burn.  DJ's platform and theatre entrance.

Looking across to the 'Fan side' from the 'Media side', taken by Board member Burn.

Looking straight down the Camo Carpet before anyone or the media had even arrived, taken by Board member Burn. (doesn't Megatron look scary? I can't imagine that poster being sold at all - who'd want that creepy demonic face on their wall?).

As darkness fell and the crowd grew, the event started to gain momentum.  Looking down the Camo Carpet.

Same shot, but photo taken by board member Saintly. Note the welcome mat at the start of the Camo Carpet, saying 'Transformers Demolition Area'.

On an angle.

Further along the 'Fan side', showing the DJ up on the platform behind the 'Transformers' sign.

A better photo of that angle taken by board member Burn.

Also on the 'Fan side'.

The Hummer, with Goktimus being photographed by dirge.

And Goktimus taking a photo of dirge.

While waiting for the stars to arrive, I met with Krayt, Lord Zed and his friend Pete(?), Burn, Sharky, Crank, Saintly and some other fans who are on the TFW2005 forum. Checked out the competition booth, and wandered around taking photos of everything.

The celebs are about to arrive.

Looking across to the 'Media side'.

The MC, hyping up the crowd and giving away heaps of tickets.

And a few props halfway along the Camo Carpet.

The first invited local celebrities arrived a little before six, and most I didn't even recognise (I don't watch Channel 7 soapies or know the Sydney radio and TV identities), but I did recognise Andy G, and um, that was unfortunately it. The MC kept saying other celebs would be there, like David Kosh, whom I didn't see, but was apparently there (according to dirge, and Koshie mentioned it on the Sunrise program the following morning when interviewing Rachael Taylor).
A little bit before 7pm, the three Movie people arrived - first Megan Fox in a short dress, Rachael Tayler in a long green dress, and then Michael Bay. After the two girls spent most of their time in front of the media, and a little with the fans, when Bay showed up and started walking over to the media, I yelled out 'Ignore the press, come to the fans'. One of his minders quickly looked around with an angry face and said, 'you want him over there?', and the fans answered, 'yeah!'. So Bay was turned around and re-directed over to us first. After signing a few things and answering some questions, he was grabbed and told to go back over to the media.

The first 'Celeb' (no idea who it was) showed up, posed for photos for about 5 minutes, and went inside.  The next Celeb didn't arrive for another 5-10 minutes and the movie started about an hour later, so this first lady must have regretted showing up so early.  Ever heard of 'fashionably late'?

Other people who were were allowed down the Camo Carpet, so must have been TV or Radio identities.

On the left is Andy G (Australian Idol host), who was one celeb who actually tried to race past the photographers.

More unknown celebs, but pretty enough for me to photograph..

The first of the Movie guests arrive by car.

Out steps Megan Fox in a short (and probably very cold) dress.

Playing up to the media.

And still flirting with the media.

Then came one fan's moment that will never be forgotten.

Want to see that as a close up?  Okay. :)

Some other photos of Megan, by board member Saintly.  How she passes for a 16 year old in the movie beats me...

Next up was the more conservatively dressed but much more beautiful Rachael Taylor, who is actually an Australian (I only found that out a few days before).

Since I didn't manage to get a frontal photo, enjoy these ones from Board member Saintly.

And the director, Michael Bay (looks more like someone who should be in a movie, than directing them).  Right photo by Saintly.

When those three went in, everyone with passes to the screening were then allowed to file in. And since there were so many invited people not showing up, they gave out remaining passes to those in the crowd, which probably meant just about everyone who showed up to the event got in.
We were checked by security and had to hand in phones and cameras, and then directed into one of two theatres. I ended up in theatre 3, while most of the other fans from this board went into theatre 2 which had the three Movie people in it. The bonus for me though, was that our theatre apparently had a five minute head start with our screening, so we were the *first* group to see it in the world, but only by a few minutes. :)
Me being the TF news reporter that I am, took notes during the movie (yes, in the dark), and wrote up a synopsis when I got home.

When it ended, I met up with dirge, Goktimus, Lord Zed and his friend, and we walked back to the nearest train station to head our separate ways.
I stayed the night at dirge's place, and froze my butt off on his couch.  Got to see his Masterpiece Megatron though, which I didn't yet have at that stage.

Continued here - Day Two.