The person that had hooked me up with AMP (which led to United Airlines) started producing one of the coolest events in Hollywood....the Costume Designers Guild Awards. She called me up, and asked if I would be available to shoot all the backstage happenings. I, of course, said yes. I desperately needed the business, and a celebrity awards show too!?! I was appreciative then, and as I look back now, it was something nothing short of a miraculous blessing.
That night I met (and more importantly got footage of): Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen, Goldie Hawn, Bernadette Peters, Elizabeth Rohm, Princess Leia (yes, I'm a nerd), Brenda Strong, Camryn Manheim, Michael Mann, Kurt Russell, Kelly Carlson, Roma Maffia, Leonard Nimoy and Debbie Reynolds. That was one of the most amazing nights of my life! I'd never met that many celebrities and nonetheless all in one excruciatingly condensed evening.
And let me set the stage for you of how these things go and what my role in it is/was. It begins with the red carpet. It's a frenzy. It's like upscale paparazzi. All the majors are there: ET, Extra!, CNN Showbiz, Access Hollywood, E!, Hollyscoop, Reelz, People, InStyle and the list goes on. There are photographers, videographers and even radio or journalist interviews all packed in a relatively tight line, or small room, depending on the set up. Most people are very cordial--both celebs and press. The celeb's "team" are probably the "rudest" and I say rude as a comparison only. Most of them are actually pretty nice as well, but they'll be the ones to dictate demands, cut off the interview if it's going to long, or even not grant the interview if you're not "press-worthy" enough.
But here's the celebrity secret...the celebs have to be nice to the press, because in a sense, it's the press that makes and keeps the celebs famous, which gets them their high paying gigs. So the nicer they are to the media, the more exposure they're likely to get. And positive exposure at that.
So all in all, it's loud, crazy, fun, but ultimately friendly.
After the red carpet is done, it's dinner time for the attendees. Pretty much all the press leaves. I have the all access pass. So I go into the awards hall with everyone else and head backstage. And there I get to spend the next two to three hours. It's a small room with a couple of couches, a wall of mirror and lights for hair and makeup touch ups and some standing room. It's really not much bigger than an average living room.
The hosts are back there already. That year it was Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen. So when I arrive, it's basically just the three of us. A few minutes later, the photographer from Getty Images shows up and sets up his gear. We are the only two cameras backstage...one video (me) and one still photographer (Getty).
The presenters are all celebrities of one sort or another--directors, producers or actors. They are called backstage a couple of awards before they present. And it's just them. Not their people, not their entourage, just them. It's unprecedented access. And all the sudden, everyone in the room are just "people". Not camera and celebrity. Not moviegoer and actor. Just equals talking about their kids, the next project, what their favorite movie is that they've done, who they liked working with, etc. And my job, was to sit there are just capture it. And when no one wanted to be captured, it was to just shoot the breeze with anyone looking bored. And that happened.
I could talk about this night forever. It was everything one would dream it should be. Glamour, glitz and...money? Well, maybe it wasn't that. That's the one thing about that level of Hollywood. It doesn't always pay that well. But it sure was fun.
And now I really had a reel that I could use to promote my business. But I needed to do it quickly as funds were TIGHT!!!