The flash of light bulbs, photographers yelling out to capture a gaze, fans squealing at the off chance their favourite star will lean in and take a coveted selfie. It all points to one thing–red carpet season.
Beyond the haute couture gowns, there is a strategy that goes behind executing a flawless red carpet. As a red carpet producer, you have two objectives, appease media with celebrity interviews, and execute an event that is efficient and flows effectively. Having produced and executed some of the most prestigious red carpets in Toronto – such as the Canadian Screen Awards and Scotiabank Giller Prize (to name a few) – I can safely to say that these objectives can be quickly forgotten in the madness of the event.
Below are five tips to make sure your red carpet is dynamic while delivering the media coverage you want.
1. What happens behind closed doors, stays behind closed doors.
No one wants to see their favourite star without makeup or looking frazzled. In order to give celebrities time to prep before the cameras and questions, it is important to designate a room (called a holding area) near the top/start of the red carpet where they can comfortably wait for their scheduled call time, receive makeup touch ups and most importantly, go through attending media and anticipated questions with their publicists and red carpet wranglers. Holding areas should be a closed space designated only for celebrities and their entourage with no cameras or media questions allowed inside.
2. A place for everything and everything in its place.
Unbeknownst to most, there are specific stations on every red carpet –step and repeats, media lines, and so on. It is important from the very beginning to map out the flow of your red carpet to help accommodate all media and celebrity needs. Having a seamless flow will result in a flawless walk for stars and publicists.
The media line should be a main focus. It can quite quickly become a whirlwind of press vying for the coveted first three spots on the red carpet. In order to keep your relationship with media and get the coverage you want, create cards that list each media outlet and physically place them onto the red carpet media line. This will prescribe exactly where each media outlet will be positioned and will avoid any scuffles over placement. One thing to note – broadcast cameras take up more space. It’s best to give cameras with tripods space at the top of the media line to spread out and keep outlets with hand held tape recorders at the end where that space becomes more of a scrum format.
3. There is no “I” in team, Becky.
A successful red carpet has never been pulled off by one single person. It truly is a team effort. Every single role on the red carpet is important. From Lead Red Carpet Wrangler to the Photo Wall Manager, each role is integral to helping shape the flow of a flawless red carpet. Here are a couple tips on how to prepare your team for what is sure to be one of the most fulfilling and exciting nights of their event careers:
- Develop a roles and responsibilities document explaining and outlining each role;
- Conduct a full team briefing prior to red carpet;
- Provide celebrity tip sheets to all staff prior, so that they recognize who they will be working with;
- Conduct an onsite team briefing, walk through of the space and a rehearsal two hours prior to red carpet start time.
4. There is no time like the present.
Timing is everything. Red carpets often signify the start of a larger event, whether it be a movie premier or an award show. As much as we would love the red carpet to go on forever, there must be an end time. Once you have determined how long you have to execute the red carpet, you can then identify how many celebrities you can physically walk down the carpet. It is also important to be transparent with media on the carpet and let them know that there is a three-question limit. All wranglers should signal to media on the last question and then can become bad cops, should media choose to ignore said signal. Employing these simple tactics will help make sure that your red carpet stays on time all while facilitating the highest number of interviews as possible.
5. Smile! You are on camera too.
Most event producers will say – I got into this industry to be behind the camera. Well that is no longer the case if you are producing a red carpet. There is nothing quite like seeing a frazzled producer or publicist walking back and forth behind a posed celebrity with a flustered look on their face, ultimately giving away the fact that things might not be running as smoothly as it would appear. The golden rule here is to always smile. Smile if your feet are sore and smile if you want to yell at the other red carpet wrangler to move their celebrity down the carpet. Let’s be honest, you do not want your 15 seconds of fame be you scowling in the background!
Last but not least … remember that this is not your show. Producing a red carpet does not mean meetings with stylists to figure out your outfit and when to get your hair blown out. When walking on a red carpet, always wear black and skip the heels. Keep your look professional and functional as to not attract the attention of the cameras.
——— Written by Nell Crichton, former Manager, NATIONAL Public Relations