On Thursday, November 20 -- the eve of Twilight's premiere -- Naibe Reynoso announced the winner of our Ultimate Twilight Fan Search on Dailies.
Of all the impassioned, creative entries we received, why did we choose Laura McDonald? We thought we'd let you see for yourself how this Twi-Hard sold her devotion to all things Bella and Edward.
Hello. My name is Laura, and I am addicted to Twilight. I'm not very good with cameras and technology, otherwise I would have recorded a spiffy video entry like many of the other contestants. I hope the simple facts I'm about to state will be more than enough to prove that I am indisputably the ultimate Twilight fan. I'm not the average fan of Stephenie Meyer's epic series. I am 24 years old, and I have a degree in English Literature, so most people scoff at me for choosing Twilight as my favorite book of all time, but I will defend it with every ounce of passionate feeling in my body. Nothing has touched me as much as the story of Bella and Edward, and I know nothing ever will. I started reading the series in the summer of 2007, long before the hoopla over it began, and well before any whisperings of a film adaptation sprung up. Ever since I first cracked open Twilight, I have been a faithful, and extremely obsessed adherent to Twilightism. If it was a religion, I would be the founder and lead converter. Okay, I tend to get long-winded and sidetracked when I write, so let me get to the specifics about what makes me the crème de la crème of Twilight fans. Prepare yourselves, there is a lot to cover!
1) I have a real, permanent Twilight tattoo that I got on my ankle in January 2008. It says "Twilight" in the official book script, and has a little flowery-star scroll encompassing it. Yes, I am THAT dedicated to Twilight that I wanted it eternally on my flesh for all to see.
2) I was in the Twilight movie as an extra! Okay, this fact requires a lot of explanation.
A) I live in Eugene, Oregon, and when I found out the Twilight film was going to be filmed in Portland and Washington, I flipped out and decided that nothing was going to stop me from somehow being a part of the movie production. I first wrote a letter to the studio and asked if I could intern on the film or be an assistant -- anything to get on set! I got no reply, so my next avenue was writing directly to Director Catherine Hardwicke and going to the official casting call for extras. I had to skip work and drive two hours to get to Portland, where I got in a line of about 1,000 people and waited eight hours to finally have my picture taken and set up an account with Extras Only.
B) As I waited day after day to get a confirmation of being an extra, I got really antsy and decided to just find the filming locations on my own and watch the action in person. Over the course of the movie's production, I went on set a total of five times, and two of those times I was an official extra. My first visit to the set was March 20th, when they were filming school scenes in Kalama, Washington. I made sure it was okay for me to watch filming from some of the crew, and when they said yes, I spent all day in the freezing cold watching the same few seconds of footage being shot over and over. It was beyond thrilling. I got to see Bella, Jasper, Alice, Emmett, Rosalie, and all the Forks High School kids playing out their scenes right in front of me. I took a lot of pictures when the cameras weren't rolling, and after posting them on the Net, they were put up on every major Twilight site in the fandom. I even had the editor of the Forks Forum newspaper contact me and ask if he could use one of my photos in their paper for an article about Twilight (and yes, it made it in, and yes, I have copies of it). In Kalama, I watched the volleyball scene being filmed even though everyone was supposed to leave. For some reason they let me stay.
C) On March 28th, I once again drove north, and visited the Madison High School set where they were filming cafeteria and biology scenes. They weren't allowing anyone to watch filming so I waited outside by all the cast trailers in a public park, and gradually saw many of the actors walking back and forth between the set and their trailer. Justin Chon, who plays Eric, came up to me and we talked for about 10 minutes. Robert Pattinson came out a few times, and I was so nervous to see him in person! A couple other Twilight fans were outside with me, and we finally gathered enough courage to stop Rob and ask for a picture with him, which he kindly obliged to. I had two friends who were involved with the cafeteria filming that I met at the end of the day and they told me every detail of what had happened, including Stephenie's visit to set, and eating lunch right behind Rob. I joined a Twilight Extras group on Facebook, so I was in contact with many of the people who did filming.
D) On April 8th, I went to the set in St. Helens, Oregon, where they were filming scenes in the Swan residence, and once again saw Rob and Kristen, as well as the actors playing Charlie Swan and Jacob Black. I watched some filming from a distance, but mostly spent the whole day chatting excitedly with fellow fan stalkers.
E) On April 14th, I finally got my chance to be an official extra! I filmed a scene at Multnomah Falls where Bella and Edward are talking, and Edward shows Bella for the first time how fast he can move. There were only a few of us extras, and I got to stand about two feet from Rob and Kristen the whole time! It was cold, raining, and miserable, but it was the best day of my entire life. I got to be part of the movie based on my absolute all-time favorite book -- how insane is that?! They were also filming the prom scenes that day, so I got to briefly visit the set for that at the View Point Inn, which was breathtaking.
F) On April 25th, my friend Bri and I traveled to the set in Vernonia, Oregon, because they said they might need us as extras that day. Here they were filming exterior shots for the town of Forks, and I did end up being an extra once again; this time I was a townsperson walking down the street as Bella and Charlie drove around in the police cruiser. Before I left the set, a guard let me and my friend sit in Edward's silver Volvo! We have pictures of us "driving" it.
I just want to note that I drove, in all, over 1,000 miles to get to these filming locations. I called in sick at work three times to go, and I paid for all the gas and three stays in a hotel room by myself. I was beyond driven and obsessed with this filming -- it was my entire life, my every waking thought for two months. I was on the set so much that a few crew members got to know me, and one in particular would talk to me every time, laughing at my persistence. And that leads me to my next fact:
3) That crew member, whom I befriended, on the last day of filming in Vernonia, GAVE ME HIS COPY OF THE MOVIE SCRIPT!! So I was probably the first fan to own an actual copy of the real script, used by a crew member. Of course, I read it right away, but never leaked it onto the Net (someone else did that many months later). I have pictures of me with my precious, precious script.
4) I went to Stephenie Meyer's book signing for The Host in Portland, Oregon, on May 20th, but naturally the focus was more on Twilight. I stood in line with all my books and finally I came face to face with the queen herself! She signed two copies of The Host for me, along with Twilight and Eclipse. She complimented me on my T-shirt, which was a Twilight one (I've made two, but put together designs for about 16), and I stuttered something about loving her and showed her my Twilight tattoo, which shocked her.
5) Okay, every TRUE Twilight fan needs to make their pilgrimage to Mecca, aka Forks, Washington, and visit the place where all the magic happened. During the summer of 2007, when I had just discovered Twilight, I decided I had to go to Forks, no matter what. I MapQuested the directions and discovered it was 359.85 miles away from my town (so it would take seven hours to get there…no problem!) I got two days off work, specifically September 12th and 13th because I wanted to be up in Forks for Bella's birthday celebration and the unveiling of "Stephenie Meyer Day." I left Eugene at 5 PM, after work, and drove all by myself up to Forks, not arriving until 1:30 AM. It took me longer because, naturally, my car's engine had to die in the middle of nowhere on a dark road, and only by some miracle did I get it started again. So, anyway, when I made it into Forks, everything was obviously very closed and abandoned. I had nowhere to sleep, so I drove around a bit and took a detour to see La Push before becoming utterly exhausted. But where would I sleep? Well, having nothing better to do, I pulled into the empty lot of Forks High School and slept there in my car, feeling very adventurous. In the morning, I got my car fixed (it was out of oil) and went on a self-guided tour of all the Twilight locations that exist. I went to hear the mayor's proclamation of it being "Stephenie Meyer Day," and I stopped at the tourist center and got a Twilight visitors guide. On the Forks Chamber of Commerce website, there are two pictures of me from that day.
6) I own lots of Twilight memorabilia: Trading cards, a Twilight Godiva chocolate bar, stickers, a Breaking Dawn button, four T-shirts, countless pictures I printed from my computer that I'm using to make a collage, a replica of Bella's charm bracelet, a Twilight poster, two copies of all the Twilight books, and all the magazines that have covered the film.
7) Speaking of magazines, I wrote a letter to the editor in response to the infamous Entertainment Weekly cover featuring Twilight, and surprisingly my letter was chosen and published in a following issue. They edited it and cut it way down, but it was very cool nonetheless. Naturally, I kept a copy of it.
8) I downloaded and burned the play lists for all the Twilight books based on Stephenie's recommendations from her website. I even printed out cover art for them! I brought them to the Breaking Dawn release party I attended at Barnes and Noble, where I got to be a special volunteer who ran the Twilight trivia contest. I was able to help out because I am one of 10 people who's a member of an official Twilight book group that meets at Barnes and Noble every Friday. We pour over every detail of every book, and discuss the movie, the cast, our favorite scenes, etc.
9) I have journal entries, and epically long e-mail correspondences chronicling every tiny detail of my experience on set those five fabulous days. I could literally make a novel out of them.
10) Alright, you'll probably think I'm a liar on this one, but I have the e-mail to prove it. I actually came up with the idea of having an ultimate Twilight fan contest through MTV, since they do Twilight Tuesdays and all that jazz. In mid-August I e-mailed Larry Carroll, who runs the Twilight show over there, and suggested this exact contest that you are running. He responded to me and said he thought it was a great idea, and he would look into doing such a contest after the imminent birth of his first baby.
11) I RELIGIOUSLY check about six or seven Twilight websites two or three times every day. I spend at least three or four hours on the Internet each day doing Twilight stuff. The sites I frequent are: Twilight Lexicon, His Golden Eyes, Official Stephenie Meyer Website, IMDb Twilight Boards, Greetings From Twilight/Official Movie Site, EdwardandBella.net, Twilight Moms, and Twilighters.org. Beyond this, I do lots of other random Twilight "research" such as finding pics on deviant art, searching for icons/avatars/banners on Photobucket, Flickr, and Iconator; skimming through the thousands of Twilight shirts on CafePress and Zazzle, looking up new fan vids on YouTube, oh, and reading about Twilight guy, of course! I have four separate "favorites" folders on my computer for all my Twilight sites, and I have a grand total of 105 different Twilight pages saved.
12) I get everyone I know to read Twilight, and they all get hooked just like I knew they would. At my work, I have loaned out my books to so many of my coworkers that they are ravaged.
13) Okay, well if all this has not been enough to convince you that I am the Ultimate Twilight Fan, I have one more tidbit to share, and this one is probably the most extreme of all. When I heard that there was going to be a Twilight panel and booth at Comic-Con in San Diego this year, I felt an urgent need to somehow get down there and experience it, but I am quite poor, and I live 978 miles from San Diego. This was a dilemma. I was determined though, so I recruited a friend to come with me and planned a road trip. I bought one-day passes for Comic-Con, on Twilight day of course, and could only get three days off work, so it was going to have to be a quick trip! My friend didn't have her driver's license and was even poorer than myself, so I ended up doing all the driving, 16 hours each way without sleep over a 72-hour span; and I paid for all the gas and hotels. I am still paying off my credit card debt from that trip! It was worth it, however, because we made it into the Twilight panel, close to the front, after getting in line at 4 AM and waiting all day with other Twilight crazies.
14) I had a Twilight-themed birthday party when I turned 24 this year. My friends made a Twilight cake for me that had the "Hold on tight, spider-monkey!" quote from an early trailer. They also put Twilight pictures on all my presents and created a bouquet of calla lilies where each flower had a picture of one of the Cullens ("Cullen Lilies") inside it.
Everything I've written is 100% true and verifiable. This has been my existence for the past year -- a year full of Twilight memories and enormous debt from Twilight-related endeavors. I have lived, breathed, and eaten these books, so please choose me as the Ultimate, #1 Twilight Fan!
Thank you so much for considering me! Sincerely, Laura McDonald