JMS alumnus gets his Star Wars dreamDate Released: Thu, 5 October 2017 08:36 +0200
by Ettioné Ferreira
JMS alumnus, Evert Lombaert, has been working with GQ South Africa magazine for the past 11 years. During this time, he has interviewed many interesting celebrities but nothing compared to meeting his idol Mark Hamill from the Star Wars movie series.
We asked Lombaert a few questions about his journey and the experience of meeting his hero:
Q: Tell us more about your academic career
A: I started studying pharmacy in '96, although my heart was most definitely not in it. After a dismal attempt at repeating the second year, organic chemistry was still no clearer to me, I rebooted my studies with a BA. The humanities were a breath of icy air in comparison to the sciences. I finished with a major in TV Journalism and English. While the eternal striving for objectivity within TV journalism is undeniably honourable, camerawork by its very medium and practice is both subjective and therefore manipulative to begin with. I embraced the subjective side of camerawork more than the objective and therefore went on to study film and TV production, majoring in camerawork and lighting at CityVarsity School of Media and Creative Arts.
Q: How long have you been freelancing for GQ?
A: I've been GQ South Africa's film editor for almost 11 years now.
Q: Besides Mark Hamill, who else have you interviewed who has made an impression?
A: I've been very fortunate to have met some incredible film characters so far: Morgan Freeman, Kate Winslet, Sir Ben Kingsley, Alicia Vikander, John Cleese, Eddie Redmayne. One of the most notable interviews I've had was with John Cleese who was a kindred spirit – our 10 minute interview turned into 15, then 20 and eventually a 40-minute conversation. It just flowed very comfortably back and forth, even going so far as to exchange book recommendations – his was Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan, which I tucked into and really enjoyed. Sir Ben was intensely charismatic, as one would expect. I was in absolute awe of Winslet – her natural grace, beauty and immense presence caught me completely off-guard and left me speechless for a couple of seconds before I had to get on with the interview.
Q: How was it to interview Mark Hamill? Was he what you expected? Any interesting story you can share from the day?
A: Mark was an absolute gift. Having been a life-long Star Wars fan, this was an immensely symbolic moment for me (I even wore my Jedi ring, which I had bought at Comic-Con, on my right hand, so that Luke Skywalker would touch it! As I said, I am a lifelong fan. As many people know, meeting a hero, especially a childhood hero, comes with the risk of them not matching expectations – not only did Mark meet them, he exceeded them. He was warm, friendly, and completely candid. A true Jedi, gentleman and mensch of the highest order.
Q: Do you have any tips for aspiring journalists on how to interview celebrities?
A: The first interview's the hardest – I chatted to an understudy here in London's West End recently who had to replace an ill lead actor. He mentioned how nervous he was stepping onto the planks, but once he was under the limelight, his passion and training took over and he shone. Celebrities, whether they be film, music or sports stars, have obviously often made it to the top by being the best at their game, so coming up with well-research, fresh questions, are often welcomed. I'd say the best advice I can give any aspiring film journalist, is to remember that despite all the fanfare, they're just people, look them in the eye and be professional. But no selfie or autograph requests. The first question also sets the tone. Over the years, I've come to use one standard ice-breaker question: "What's the one question you're sick of answering?" It immediately lightens the mood, gives them a chance to vent (as press days are by nature repetitive and rather bland) and gives me a chance to not ask that question if it was in my quiver! At the heart of it all, while I suspect traditional media brands will be around for a long time to come, there's no reason why aspiring journos shouldn't get started on their own writing, podcast, blog, vlog or Twitter 'brand' of their own before or during journ school. Aspiring film journalists should possess two things -- a heart beats at 25 frames per second... and ink in your blood.
Be sure to read Lombaert’s interview with Mark Hamill about the new Star Wars movie, which will be out in the December/January print edition of GQ magazine in South Africa.
May the force be with you!