Thursday, 22 September 2011

TIFF Red Carpet Guide for Press

Nothing can really prepare anyone for the experience of being behind the rope on the Red Carpet. First it is not glamorous – all the glamour is on the other side of the rope. It is hard work. Do your homework, research the celebrities about to come down the carpet and make sure you have an interesting approach that is about them not you. Get your gear in order. There is nothing worse than the perfect interview that turns out to have been badly recorded. The Red Carpet is not the place for mistakes. Be cool, there is always a long wait. The space behind the rope on the carpet is very tight, almost military in precision. There is no room for swinging around equipment or strutting about. The worst thing is the reporter who insists on practicing their intro retake after retake, during that time. Oh yes, there is usually some novice press who thinks the Red Carpet is their chance to be famous, that we all showed up for them. This type usually tries to take over the interview and get extra chummy with the celebrity. It is rude and tedious. When you check them out they are amateur.

Be considerate. The more important the celebrity the less time they will probably be allowed on the carpet. They usually arrive last just before the show is about to begin. Broadcasters are given first crack and can sometimes consume all the time. In this case it is really helpful if you have made friends with the other media during the wait time because they will be more inclined to help you get a little access. The PR personnel are also vital in this situation. They will either have the celebrity sweep by without even a nod or they will help you get a minute and your ‘money shot’.  When the celebrity arrives the media sometimes loose their heads and start acting like fools. Be prepared for a football scrum like atmosphere on a badly managed Red Carpet. Yes, not all PR are good at their jobs and sometimes they are just inexperienced. The PR and media world is a small one so if you are given 2 questions, then don’t try to jam in more. You look unprofessional and will find you are moving down the carpet the wrong way next time out. Sometimes it is helpful to work in a group so that together with another media outlet you get a really great interview even if your access is more limited. In this case it is really unprofessional to upstage your associate. Agree on the format for the questions and stick with it.

Dress for the event. Arrive well ahead of time and know where you are going because when the carpet closes you cannot get in. Check the weather and bring something suitable for the temperature if it is an outside or exposed carpet. Protect your camera at all times. Always bring a backup. Equipment fails at the worst time.  Do a full equipment check before you set out and again when you set up. Tripods, ladders, lights, cases and boom microphones are all things you will have to decide whether you need. It takes a team of two and sometimes more to execute a proper Red Carpet multimedia interview. Attempting to do it alone is risky and unprofessional. Bring your phone. It is essential for last minute background checks if a new celebrity shows up or you need to Google any info on the event. Bring your business cards. Be prepared for schedule changes and new opportunities. Sometimes you can ask for media tickets to whatever the event is you are covering. The PR people have control of these very limited tickets. When you have finally posted your coverage send it along to your PR contacts. No matter what happens it is an amazing learning experience with something new to deal with and learn every time.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Stars and celebrities at the Venice Film Festival: Where they are and what to do

Even the most composed of industry professionals often find themselves star struck when in the face of their acting deity. When at the Venice Film Festival and around the movie village and surrounding restaurants, it is not uncommon to find yourself eating across from a star or just a few feet away from them when at a press conference. This will tell you where you will probably see them (from our personal experience), and how to act when you do. 

The most important thing is to remember that they are just people, doing their job. So take a breath and realize that there is no point in getting all crazy because they are just like you. Put yourself in their position. While it is flattering for them to have adoring fans, and while they will usually treat approaches from fans kindly, it is not really nice for them to be bothered all the time while trying to eat or while they are just going about their business. 

The second thing to remember is that you are NOT a fan, but an industry professional. If you act like a professional, you will be treated like one. 

Lets take this for example, just an hour ago our team was having lunch at albergo quattro fontane, just outside the festival. After sitting down we realized that Viggo Mortensen was having a lunch meeting just across from us. And then we noticed several other stars, and that they were actually preparing to have interviews at the restaurant. We remained normal, didn't gawk or bombard him, and just enjoyed our lunch. At desert time when the waiter/manager was convincing us to have tiramisu, Mortensen engaged with us and the waiter and we all had a small laugh following some witty comment from him. He got involved because he saw that we were cool, calm and collected. While we didn't walk away with a photograph, we walked away with self dignity and the fact that Viggo Mortensen engaged in a conversation with us just like regular people do, which is invaluable to a fan of his work. 

So since we have been here, here is where we have seen some stars. As fore mentioned we saw Viggo at albergo quattro fontane, and we saw Laurence Fishburne at the Hotel Cipriani (on Giuidecca) who was also enjoying a coffee just a few feet away. Hotel Cipriani is an elegant hotel, and the favorite of many stars who visit venice. The Hotel Bauer includes a luxurious ultra elite spa, another hot spot for stars. 

So now we move on to press conferences. The press conferences at the Venice Film Festival are ridiculous. People rush in to get the front row seats, they mob and run to the stars at the end, and you end up breaking a few ribs but getting out with a signature. So here are the BEST ways not to suffer a fatality and to get away with a nice piece of memorabilia and your self respect still intact. 1) If you have a videographer, or anyone with "radio/tv photo" accreditation, you can get into the conference room before it actually opens to set up your camera. Personally I just say I'm setting it up and then leave a couple of bags on the seats that I want while I pretend to set something up at the back. This has worked every time, and I have sat front row and center. This only works if you have some visible camera equipment and the "radio/tv photo" accreditation badge. 2) Provided your excellent seat, you are now just feet away from the stars, directors ect. which means you will have no problem getting up there for a signature. Have your pen on hand, and when you see people in your peripherals charging, walk up to the front like you own the place because you will get there first and have time to give your star of choice a coy smile and get an autograph. 3) Photos. If you want to get photos/videos, bring a small digital camera and a scarf. They don't allow you to, but you can get a couple shots in when they first enter if you keep it ready on your lap. 

Well there it is. USE IT WISELY. Remember, respect yourself, the stars, and your fellow industry delegates and maintain your sense of cool and calm. They are just people, and if you appreciate them you won't harass them. Hope this helps you have a great festival!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Media/Press Venice Film Festival Guide - What you NEED to know

After experiencing the festival for a few days, here is a guide that anyone wishing to get or who has accreditation NEEDS to read. We got screwed on a couple of these things, so make sure you're prepared. This is essentially filled with things that you should really know but they don't tell you.


Venice Day to Day - 01

Wed Aug 31st at the 68th Venice Film Festival is off to an amazing start. A beautiful, hot sunny day, with top talent opening the event. Press have arrived from everywhere and it is a sea of camera's, press passes, lap tops and in the press room, hard work. The myetvmedia team is lucky and gets front row access in the Press Conference Room. (We did put in the work waiting for 2 hours before the ‘Ides of March’ conference began.)

High Points:

Press Conferences opens with Paulo Baratta & Marco Muller, (la Giuria 68 VFF). Then, the jury with Star power including multiple awarding winning director Darren Aronofsky (President) who draws most of the questions.

George Clooney arrives to introduce his much anticipated film "Ides of March". My ipad is essential and the translation headphones available on site. After a very entertaining press conference (a lot about seduction) the media stampede to the front table like kids to get a piece of the stars.

Low Points:
Being first timers we made some mistakes. One of our photographers after joyfully getting into the photo room was politely asked to leave when it was discovered we did not have the Maccheroni pass which you need to line up for everyday by 10am. (No up close with George today! Its really tough for first time press to get these passes.)  

We missed the 9am press screening of ‘Ides of March’ not understanding watertaxi schedules or boarding points around the canals. A ‘Times’ reporter sitting next to me in the conference described ‘Ides of March’ as “a taught, political thriller”. We will see it at TIFF. This just reminds me of our arrival from the airport. NEVER take the public watertaxi from Venice airport to the Stucky Molino Hilton unless you want a one hour water tour of Venice from every direction with multiple stops. (Jet lagged, hungry and hot, dragging all the cameras and luggage). The private boat would have been really worth it! Next time.

Internet is slow in the media room and spots at the tables are hard to get after 9:15 am.

Thrilled to be here, small, intimate and well organized.

List of press tips and tricks will be uploaded soon.