Teenage Paparazzo
HBO // Unrated // $19.98 // March 29, 2011
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 3, 2011
Highly Recommended
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Teenage Paparazzo is a documentary film that focuses on a teenage boy (named Austin Visschedyk) working within the paparazzi snap-shot world and whom actor Adrian Grenier (one of the stars of HBO's hit television program Entourage) encountered taking paparazzi photos one night. The results of this encounter led to the idea formulating inside Grenier's head to make a documentary feature about the boy and how obsession with celebrity in our culture can lead to someone so young becoming a part of the paparazzi. The end result of this documentary being made is getting to experience one of the best and most important looks at celebrity obsession ever filmed. Teenage Paparazzo is an unforgettable experience.

Grenier interviews all sorts of individuals over the course of this documentary to try and uncover more about how celebrities are treated in today's culture and why people would choose to be paparazzi in the first place. Interviews are conducted with many celebrities (and I assume most would rather not be named - though Paris Hilton seemed to be an especially involved participant). Grenier also talks to psychologists, additional paparazzi, magazine editors (of the celebrity gossip variety), and perhaps most importantly to the parents of Austin (Grenier wisely remains more observant and less judgmental with this aspect). These interviews are utterly fascinating and will help to educate any audience member who wants to gain a better understanding of paparazzi and celebrity culture.

The film raises a large number of rather important questions and while it doesn't really try to provide 'definitive' answers its gives a lot of insights into why things might be the way they are and as a result my mind was firing on all cylinders after the viewing. I wanted to be able to try and formulate why I thought paparazzi existed, why teenage paparazzi would exist, and all of these other serious questions. It even made me start to ponder my own relationship with celebrity culture and my own fascination with public figures. I even began thinking about my thinking process behind trying to find a "perfect shot" with taking screen-grabs for this review. Was that in some way making me a paparazzo?  I'm not sure of the answer, but what I do know is seeing a documentary that allowed my mind to branch off into internal monologues is something I don't often encounter and that left me impressed.

The film was more fascinating than I could have ever imagined it being when I decided to watch it initially as I had mixed expectations about the film with Adrian Grenier directing it. For whatever reason (likely the result of my experiences watching Entourage) I doubted that Grenier would be able to bring enough depth to this documentary project. While that belief didn't stop me from viewing the film it was certainly a completely unfair assumption that I held. What did I know about Grenier in reality? Beyond a false impression of him that had formed in my mind because of a CHARACTER he plays on a television series I didn't know anything about the guy. This documentary displays someone who seems quite unlike the character he is famously known for - no douche-bag attitude at all. Adrian is someone who seems deeply concerned with the subject of his film -- the paparazzo Austin
Visschedyk - and why it is he's mixed up in the crazy world of Paparazzi. This is especially noticeable by the time the film has concluded and while viewers will be left with their minds buzzing over the ideas presented and explored the most important aspect (that being the well-being of Austin) is not ignored and that is something that brings the documentary full circle in a meaningful way.

The DVD:


Teenage Paparazzo is presented in the original theatrical exhibition ratio with enhancement for widescreen 16x9 HDTV televisions. The actual aspect ratio shifts throughout various scenes (as the film was shot using multiple sources and with different styles). This means some parts are 4:3 full frame, other shots are 1:85:1 widescreen (the most common ratio by my own estimation), and that some scenes were created with multiple full frame ratios displaying at the same time (in different spots of the screen). The image quality remains mostly consistent. This is a good looking documentary film with strong colors, impressive depth, and visual clarity. The direction of photography is excellent and is well represented with this presentation. I noticed no glaring issues that would detract from the experience.


For a documentary feature I was surprised to find that Teenage Paparazzo included a 5.1 surround sound option which featured decent separation and allowed the music featured in the film to sound more enveloping. Spanish 2.0 audio is also included. Subtitle options are available in English, French, and Spanish.


There aren't a ton of extras here and that is certainly not something that really surprises. An audio commentary with Adrian Grenier and Austin Visschedyk would have been pretty neat and it is kind of disappointing that nothing like that was included on this release. What does this release have then? A number of short pieces are included under the banner 'Snap Shots'. These are actually deleted scenes that are separated based upon their overall focus points. I enjoyed these pieces almost immediately and while I could understand why these elements were cut from the final version of the film it was also clear why they were included on the DVD release. These are excellent moments of additional footage that would be worth watching for any fan of this documentary.

Final Thoughts:

Teenage Paparazzo was an eye-opening documentary experience that brings to light a lot of things crucial to trying to understand Paparazzi and our celebrity culture.  It also examines a young man stuck in the midst of it all in a way that is genuinely compelling and important. The most surprising thing about the film is its ability to be both entertaining and informative at the same time, and that will ultimately help it to be both more appealing and necessary for audiences of all ages to visit and explore further. This is an impressive debut by Adrian Grenier as a documentary film-maker and it is well worth owning. Highly Recommended.

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