My TCM Film Fest Family Album

pv_23736_005_2451_2I’m not a big hugger; it’s nothing personal, it’s just not my thing. But I received – and gave – more hugs at the recently completed TCM Classic Film Festival than in any other weekend of my adult life. 

So, what gives?

Turner Classic Movies’ fifth annual conclave was brilliantly curated and flawlessly executed, with more than 100 events in a 4-day cinematic cyclone that concluded with THE WIZARD OF OZ – in the same venue that hosted the film’s premiere 75 years ago. Over the course of just 82 hours, I caught 16 screenings, 3 panel discussions, a celebrity-filled tribute to host Robert Osborne, a number of parties, very little sleep, and almost no food. It was, as always, a delightfully exhausting and supremely unforgettable experience.

But TCM got one thing wrong this year.

2014 TCM Classic Film Festival - "The Italian Job" ScreeningThe announced theme for 2014 was “Family in the Movies: the Ties That Bind.” Based on what I witnessed – and experienced myself – I’d amend that to “Family at the Movies.” Because thousands of people, many who had never met before, laughed together, cried together, hugged, bonded, and otherwise felt a connection that some of us don’t often experience in our daily lives. And it all happened in the audience at some of the most historic venues in Hollywood.

It was like a reunion, with family we’d never met. And the tie that bound us all together was Turner Classic Movies.

I know this sounds really sappy. And I’m sure I’ll read this post in a week or two, when I’m less sleep deprived, hungry, and emotionally vulnerable, and I’ll probably cringe at the sentimentality. But that’s why I’m writing this now, just hours after I got off the plane from LAX, before my native sarcasm has an opportunity to re-calcify.

Fact: the people who attend the TCM Classic Film Festival are some of my favorite people in the world. I don’t care how old they are, what they look like, where they live, what they do for a living, or whom they voted for in the last election.

Ben“Conservatives, liberals, progressives, and libertarians all unite in their love of Humphrey Bogart,” host Ben Mankiewicz said at the press conference that kicked off the festivities on Thursday morning at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood. 

My apologies to my actual family and IRL friends and co-workers, but I feel closer to the friends I’ve made through my TCM viewership than to many (most?) other people in my life. Without a doubt, social media facilitates these interactions and helps to consecrate the transmogrification from virtual to actual. We may meet in person for the first time at TCMFF, but we feel like we’ve known each other for years. Because, in many cases, thanks to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram, we have.

If you’re reading a blog about classic film, you probably already know this. What you may not know, however, is how real the emotion is when we all say goodbye, and how much we look forward to seeing each other again. Seriously, when was the last time you felt that way about your real family?

In the midst of the sadness/euphoria of the closing night party at the Roosevelt Hotel on Sunday, Monster Island Resort host Miguel Rodriquez recorded a special TCMFF edition of his excellent podcast. I’m featured on it, along with a motley crew of classic film bloggers and tweeters, including Paula Guthat, Citizen Screen (aka Aurora), Joel Williams, Kellee Pratt, Nitrate Diva (aka Nora), and Beth Accomando.  All of these folks tweet regularly using the #TCMParty hashtag. Click here to listen.

Also: for you on-line types who couldn’t be there this year, here are some pictures to help you connect faces with @ names. This will make it even easier when you join us in 2015. But start saving your pennies now! The hugs may be free at the TCM Classic Film Festival, but the passes are not.


My non-Twittered girlfriend Maggie and me.


Pre-gaming on Wedensday at In-N-Out Burger w/ (back) Aurora (@citizenScreen) and me (front) Alan (@AlanHait), Michael (@le0pard13), and Paula (@Paula_Guthat)


Opening Day #TCMParty lunch at Musso & Frank w/ (L-R) Paula (@Paula_Guthat), Aurora (@CitizenScreen), me, Alan (@AlanHait), Kimberly (@GlamAmor), Kellee (@IrishJayhawk66), Elise (@EliseCD), Colleen (@Middparent) w/ Kay (@KayStarStyle) behind the camera


The (in)famous “Oscar-style selfie” w/ (L-R) Margaret (@BeautBoulevards), Kellee (@IrishJayhawk66), me, Aurora (@CitizenScreen), Kimberly (@GlamAmor), Kay (@KayStarStyle), and Kelly (@Kelly_Wick)


Paula (@Paula_Guthat) carbo-loading w/ a shake from the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain on Hollywood Blvd.


Elise (@EliseCD) and I toast Robert Osborne on Friday at the Montalban Theatre


Miguel (@MonsterResort) and Beth (@CineBeth) were #1 and #2 for the GODZILLA restoration at the Egyptian on Saturday. That’s dedication.


Kellee (@Irishjayhawk66) and I are ready for the red carpet!


Champion hugger Kristen (@SalesonFilm) Whenever I saw her at a screening I knew I had made the right decision.


Little ditty ’bout Jeff (@JLundenberger) and Diane (@Diandapanda)


TCM Ultimate Fan winner Tiffany (@FilmiliarFace), Aurora (@CitizenScreen) and Kellee (@IrishJayhawk66) ready for trouble


Ariel (@Sinaphile), Andy (@Andy_Sell) and Marya (@oldfilmsflicker) call it a wrap on closing night.


KC (@Classicmovieblg) and Laura (@LaurasMiscMovie) on closing night.


Joel (@Joelrwilliams1) and Beth (@Pooka_pal) by the Roosevelt Hotel pool


Alan (@AlanHait) and Debbie (@Moviesharkd) reppin’ for Philly.


Karen (@TheDarkPages) and Kellee (@IrishJayhawk66) showing off bright smiles for two noir lovers


Sara and Lara (@Backlotsfilm)


Larkin (@LarkinStallings) and Jackie (@LivingLola)


Miguel (@MonsterResort) and Kelle (@Irishjayhawk66)


Colleen (@Middparent), Paula (@Paula_Guthat) and Nora (@NitrateDiva)


Me, Cindy (@Ciniebugz) and Joel (@joelrwilliams1)


Miguel recording the podcast in the fires of eternal damnation


Paula (@Paula_Guthat) and me on the TCM Movie Locations Sightseeing Bus Tour on Monday


Elise (@EliseCD) and Aurora (@CitizenScreen) in the lobby of The Bradbury Building


Aurora (@CitizenScreen), Paula (@Paula_Guthat), Will and friend.


Michael (left) was the guide and George (right) was the driver for the TCM Movie Locations bus tour. I gave them a nice tip, which I’m sure had nothing to do with them agreeing to pose for this picture.


Paula, Will, Elise and Aurora after the TCM Tour on Monday


#TCMParty veterans Aurora, me, Kellee, Paula and Joel ham it up for the camera in the Genworth Living Room at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre.

Our pals Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz lead us in a toast to TCM's 20th birthday.

Our pals Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz lead us in a toast to TCM’s 20th birthday. Here’s to 20 more years.

About willmckinley

I'm a New York City-based writer, video producer, print journalist, radio/podcast host, and social media influencer. I've been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by Robert Osborne), NPR, Sirius Satellite Radio, and the official TCM podcast. My byline has appeared in and more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News. I'm also a social media copywriter for Sony's getTV and a contributor to four film-and-TV-related books: "Monster Serial," "Bride of Monster Serial," "Taste the Blood of Monster Serial," and "Remembering Jonathan Frid."
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25 Responses to My TCM Film Fest Family Album

  1. Vienna says:

    Loved all your photos. Thank you so much. Hope one year to be saying, Hollywood,here I come!
    Hey, it’s only an 11 hour plane journey.

  2. idawson says:

    Great photos! Sounds like you all had a magnificent time. Hope to see you next year!

  3. I am literally tearing up looking at these photo albums – even from afar I feel like I am looking at family! I REALLY hope I can join you ll next year. That’s probably the biggest reason I want to go to TCMFF. I’m more excited to meet this lot than Robert Osborne (though he’s definitely a very close second;)!

  4. le0pard13 says:

    You hang out with the best people, Will. Awesome.

  5. kelleepratt says:

    Reblogged this on Outspoken and Freckled and commented:
    My family!

  6. Jennifer says:

    I’m with Margaret! Great photos, Will – so nice to see all of the faces that go with the names.

  7. Fabulous family album.
    Hi, everybody! You all look so fabulous and having the time of your lives!

  8. kelleepratt says:

    What a family reunion it was! It was literally the trip of a lifetime for me. I know I’m heavily responsible for the copious hugging- but hey, we’re family!! Those tears I shed when I said goodbye to you & Aurora expressed exactly how I felt about this family event… we are the ties that bind!

  9. Wanna know something cool? As I was scrolling through your photographs of everyone at the festival this year, I honestly started tearing up. You’re right – we love these people regardless of whether we’ve met in person or not, we respect each other and we admire each other. One day I promise you, I WILL attend the TCMFF and I shall cry my eyes out xx Thank you for all your great posts Will!

  10. So well said! Reading this made me weepy – I really do miss these people already! And so many of them I haven’t had the chance to meet yet… Until next year…. mwah!

  11. this is EXACTLY how I felt about the festival this year and how I closed my piece on the fest, which will be posting soon. It’s like one big family reunion and we only get to see each other briefly once a year and it’s never enough time!

  12. Great post Will! It was a pleasure meeting you at the festival.

  13. jrphoel says:

    Awesome photos. Made me feel like I was there. Almost. All I can say is someday…

  14. Nitrate Diva says:

    I’m honored to be included in your album, Will, and it was a pleasure to meet you and the gang in person! You hit the nail on the head: it’s the relationships that make the festival so special and unforgettable. I really enjoyed this moving tribute and all of the adorable snapshots.

  15. kC says:

    Oh man, this made me tear up. What wonderful people. I need a copy of that pic. of me and Laura. Love it! That pic. of you and Maggie is super cute too. I am a hugger, and I will embrace people I barely know without hesitation, so I’m glad to know you were more open to all the snoggling at the festival despite your usual proclivities. I hope that was the case with everyone else, because it wasn’t until a day after the festival that I wondered if maybe I had made some people uncomfortable!

  16. Laura says:

    Thank you, Will, this was lovely! 🙂

    It really does feel like family. Our own special TCM movie family!

    Best wishes,

  17. Kelly says:

    ME TOO love those photos

    Just call the TCM your other famiy reunion big loud and rock on classics

  18. “Hold me, Will, hold me!” I feel so responsible for that opening paragraph; thanks for the comfort, I definitely needed it. Great picture of you & Maggie. Feel free to use any of the photos from my Tumblr on this post if you want! Till next year, #TCMFamily!!

  19. Le says:

    Like Margaret and Vanessa, someday, with God as my witness, I’ll go toTCMFF and meet all of you. As I was reading the tweets of people there, I was thinking of how much I love this community! I have no worlds to tell how much you all mean to me ❤
    The ones I'v never seen photos of before were KC, Karen and Nora (Nora looks quite young, doesn't she?). I missed Raquel and Trevor in the pictures.
    Greetings, Will!

  20. Great post, Will! What you describe is how I often feel after the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. That’s where I’ve met up with some of my online movie friends so far. I would love to go to the TCM Classic Film Festival. It looks like a lot of fun. I will try to go next year!

  21. bjbradford says:

    Great post, Will, thanks for the shots, I was also in attendance at the Festival but unfortunately didn’t get to see or meet you, although, based on the pictures, I did see quite a few of your fellow bloggers. It was a blast being there and I had the great pleasure of actually getting to meet and talk to Maureen O’Hara! What an unexpected treat! I am also a fellow blogger, fairly new, at, if you get a chance to get a look one day let me know what you think. Really enjoy your blog, take care and thanks!

  22. Thanks for including the “photo album”! It’s so great to see the faces behind the blogs & Twitter accounts.

    Looks like a FAB time!

  23. AuroraAurora says:

    This is lovely. And all you say is true…and weird. I don’t even want to understand it – the connection we all have. I’m verklempt! I don’t even mind the pictures of me. Or not a lot. Thanks for putting this together for all of us to keep forever. Now tell me, what did you do with the real Will McKinley?


  24. The Lady Eve says:

    Love your album, Will. Hopefully, next year I’ll meet more of the bloggers I know, so far, only online. Wish I’d taken photos of all the wonderful people I met in line, in the theaters, on the street and at the Roosevelt during the festival.

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