My first experience of working on a red carpet at the 2014 Olivier Awards.
Mark Frias-Robles, who is 'on loan' to The Corner Shop from Disney, describes how working on the red carpet and working the red carpet are two very different things.
Until yesterday, I had never worked on a red carpet before. I have been lucky enough to attend a few film premieres as a guest which, to be honest, has always been a bit of an anticlimax. You worry about what you are going to wear, get excited about which celebrities you may see, but then once you arrive you are ushered down the carpet as quickly as possible, enter the theatre and take your seat. It’s over before you know it and quickly feels like another night at the cinema but with a fancy dress code.
So when I found out that I would have the opportunity to work on the red carpet for the 2014 Olivier Awards I was both excited and petrified! And with good reason too! The Olivier Awards is the theatre industry’s biggest annual event. Over 200 celebrities, nominees and guests will be arriving (along with the other thousand people attending) and you have one shot to get what you need. No pressure then!
To the outside world it appears to be a glamorous event that runs like clockwork but in the thick of it it’s like spinning plates, and no matter how well you plan, everything could change at any second.
You arrive two hours before the first guests are due, clipboard in hand, armed with lists of nominees, presenters and guests. Firmly clenched in your other hand is your Aide Memoire. At this stage the carpet is actually quite empty. The press have not taken their positions yet and the autograph-hunting fans who wait patiently on the sidelines are in good spirits, eager for the moment to arrive when they might get to meet their idols. You find your position on the carpet, and then it’s a waiting game.
Finally a car pulls up at the end of the carpet. You can’t see who gets out but you know it’s the first celebrity because the fans are screaming . This is it! Let’s go.
The following hour goes by in a flash. What was once an empty carpet is now filled with people. Women in beautiful gowns and men in fine tailored suits seem to appear from nowhere. Speed and a calm head are key when everything happens at once. As word is passed down the line and your interviewee arrives. But for you the hard part hasn’t even begun yet. Time to spin those plates!
While they speak to camera you are lining up where they are needed next whilst keeping an eye on who is coming up the carpet. Keeping track of how long the interview is lasting you are also making sure their guest is looked after while they wait. Then you help wrap it up as the next guest arrives whilst clocking another celebrity who has just passed you en route to another interview making sure you remember to persuade them to come back. Negotiating with personal publicists, keeping track of who you have already seen, who’s still on the ‘to do’ list, trying to ensure the client’s priorities are achieved. Tricky to do at the best of times but when you have 5/6 key guests all arriving at once it’s a challenge to keep all those balls in the air.
Somehow you manage. You see the people you need to see, chase the ones you miss, meet some of your idols (even if it is for the briefest of moments) and no doubt end up being caught on camera more times than you should. Before you know it the hour has gone by, you’ve managed to get over thirty people to give interviews and you can see the red of the carpet once again. The last celebrity has run the gauntletand entered the building, the crews are quickly packing away their equipment, and you can breathe. Job done, clipboards away, thank you handshakes all round and it’s time to go in and watch the show.