Awards Season!

150 150 Next Level Event Design

Awards Season… For me, it’s like the playoffs for sports fans or Restaurant Week for foodies. Awards shows feed my event brain the way a trip to the Container Store feeds my type-A personality (or a beach and a bottle of wine feed my need to relax).

Now, I’m not talking about the excitement of my favorite actor (Meryl) or director (Scorsese) going home with another mantle weight (Oscar), or the movie that I never found time to go see (all of them) being rewarded for how it educated the world in a way the history books never did (The Imitation Game). Nope, I’m talking about the glitz and glamor of what Hollywood Royalty are wearing (I miss Bjork), the strategic seating arrangement (SAG Awards at long tables!) and the inventive ways the set designers will have the talent take to the beautifully designed stage (wasn’t a fan of the side stage entrance camera at the Golden Globes). Also, how about the show direction and execution by the highly anticipated hosts (sad to see Tina and Amy calling it quits) as well as the white knuckled video director (a shout out to all of them, this stuff is LIVE!) being criticized for every wrong camera call.

Then there are the production elements shown at awards shows like the Grammy’s with flying LED screens off-setting band pre-sets, or the stage engulfed in set pieces and LED video walls re-creating music videos (Taylor Swift’s AMA’s opening with “Blank Space”), to then immediately fade away to blank star-lit screens. How about that incredible video mapping of the Super Bowl Halftime show? All of these WOW effects are amazing, and come at a very steep price.

Now, here’s the kicker for those of us that work in the event business; thousands of viewers around the world watch and form their own opinions on every aspect of the evening, and then will try to re-create it throughout the year in the form of their own galas, conferences, meetings and events. Most clients (sadly, not all) understand that these events have much higher budgets than what they have to spend, but oftentimes, they don’t necessarily understand the many layers and complications that come along with even the simplest request (which they likely have already sold to their leadership).

Just for a moment, stop and take into consideration the cost associated with the rental of the various equipment (video screens, LED Walls, projectors), creating the environment for them to function (fly systems, ceiling rigging points and the insurance to go with it), the labor and rental fees to install them all (multiple days on both ends of the program), the creative team to design and execute all of the content going into the screens and finally the rehearsal time once it is all in place. It really isn’t as simple as “we love projection mapping and want something like that.”

In addition to the actual show’s production values, there are also the overarching themes and styles carried through the after parties – this year being a bit more “nostalgic or vintage” (Watch this Sunday for the 2015 Oscars Governor’s Ball After-party) to last year’s “classic.” Our clients love to attempt to replicate the multi-media experience, red carpet fashion aesthetic as well as the inventive seating configuration for their VIPs and attendees, but with much tighter wallets.

It’s our job as event professionals to watch these televised live events and strategize on how to make similar experiences happen for our clients that don’t have a Hollywood budget. Last year we cut the “frills” and created the very clean and “classic” look. This year, I see the event world mirroring Hollywood in creating nostalgic and content-driven events that have a feel of comfort with it’s understated opulence (Oxymoron? Welcome to my desk!). These are the things that make me want to grab another beverage and keep watching the gilded drama unfold.

So, this weekend as we come together to watch NPH beautifully execute the The Oscars – as you critique the fashion, the set, the show call and direction; think about what you would have done to save a few bucks while creating the same experience (then send those ideas to me so I have a few more concepts in my back pocket for this coming year!)