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.

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