On a random Tuesday at Santa Monica High School, groups of teenagers shuffle into the auditorium and find their seats. It's the type of moment that plays out every day across schools nationwide, but something is different: These students wear black T-shirts, point their cell phone cameras toward the stage and hold up signs declaring their love for Edward Cullen.
They've assembled on this day to study a very special curriculum — within moments, they erupt in cheers for professors Catherine Hardwicke and Edi Gathegi.
"I've been really good," beamed Hardwicke. We caught up with her for the first time in months, moments before a launch event for her "Twilight Director's Notebook: The Story of How We Made the Movie." "It's been fun to see all the response to 'Twilight,' and the excitement and everything — there's a lot of 'Twilight' love."
"We're here to promote her book," explained Gathegi, excited to reunite with his "Twilight" director. "It's going to be a book signing, she is going to direct a couple of scenes from the movie, there is going to be a band that's gonna play. I'm emceeing the entire event. We're just gonna have a good time."
When we visited the "Twilight" set a year ago and interviewed Hardwicke, the former production designer made frequent reference to "my little journal book," which never left her side. Soon after the film became a massive hit, Hardwicke was asked by Stephenie Meyer's publisher if she wanted to develop the book and now every Twilighter can buy their own copy.
"I think it's kind of cool," grinned Hardwicke, holding the colorful photo-and-design-filled tome in her hand. "I was so excited to put in all the neat little drawings that I did, and other people did [too] like our costume designer. And little weird notes and stuff."
Scattered throughout the pages are tips from Hardwicke to prospective filmmakers, photos of her scouting locations (and re-creating scenes as Bella), and sketches of how the characters were supposed to look — drawn before the actors were even cast.
"That looks like Billy Dee Williams right there," marveled Gathegi, flipping through the book and finding an early sketch of his character minus the now-signature hairstyle. "This is the original Laurent. I think Catherine and I both came up with the dreadlock idea, because I had always wanted to have dreads and I thought it would be a cool, sexy, different look."
"There were a lot of funny moments on the movie," Hardwicke explained, pointing out irreverent parts in the book about selling Kristen Stewart's shirt on eBay, visiting the real-life Forks Coffee Shop, or how to microwave Swiss cheese and make your own vampire flesh. "We tried to put some of the quirkier items in here."
After Hardwicke and Gathegi made their way through the evening's concert and Q&A, it was time for Tuesday's event at Santa Monica High School to get quirky. Some lucky students were brought onstage, and Hardwicke directed them in the scene from "Twilight" where evil vampires Laurent, James and Victoria take down Waylon Forge at the boathouse — as an added bonus, Hardwicke surprised the crowd with actor Ned Bellamy, who was more than happy to re-create his death.
"You guys know exactly the motivation of these vampires," Hardwicke explained to her young actors. "They want some yummy food, and this guy looks pretty good to them."
"I couldn't stop laughing," Gathegi said of the performance. "It was just so bizarre to see somebody imitating a scene that I was in. ... He looks nothing like me. But he was actually really good!"