Monday, February 27, 2012

My Adventures in Oscarland

My moment on Oscar's red carpet. My press
credential has been adequately blurred.
There's an expression in the film industry that goes, "A movie is never finished. You just run out of time."

I ran out of time.

On a frantic Sunday morning that saw me travel from my hotel in Anaheim to friends' houses in Irvine and Anaheim Hills, I searched valiantly for a fast Internet connection. I had a 2 GB video file to upload, part two of my preview coverage of this weekend's Oscar ceremony.

No knock on the DoubleTree in Anaheim, but hotel Internet connections, in general, suck.

I found a fast(er) connection, but I still missed the deadline. The video debuted on YouTube around 7:30 p.m., two hours into the Oscar telecast.

Frustration. Hey, it happens.

But, you know what's cool? Even though I couldn't edit together and upload the finished footage in time to beat Billy Crystal's opening monologue, I still had my moment on the red carpet in front of the Kodak Theatre, a first for me and this humble blog. A lot of blogger's didn't make the cut, or even tried. I previewed the Oscars, bitches, at the very spot where it would happen. Who cares that I wasn't allowed to stay for the actual ceremony?

Yeah, about that part...

On Hollywood Boulevard, outside the Kodak Theatre.
I have no delusions about The Mouse Castle's place in the worldwide media pecking order. I have a small blog by Internet standards, although my ego does allow me to believe that I'm providing an important and entertaining service to my loyal readers. Over my last six or seven years of writing online, first with MiceChat, then branching out on my own, I've made a number of useful contacts. A lot of them have enabled me to access official media websites full of press releases, photos and video. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (a.k.a. the Oscar people) is just such a contact. I registered for online press access last year and, after reviewing The Mouse Castle, they said, "OK, we'll let you in." I can only speculate to what degree they were impressed with my insightful commentary and nimble wordplay.

On the Academy's media site, they have an impressive trove of pictures from past events, including the Oscars. That's the main purpose of the site. The big fun comes in the fall, though, when notices go out that media applications for the Academy Awards are being accepted. When I got that e-mail, I was quite emboldened. I requested access to everything.

Weeks later, the polite responses showed up.

Red Carpet: No
Media Bleachers: No
Press Room: No
Interview Room: No
Nominees Luncheon: No

It appears I am not regarded in the same manner as E!, the Today Show and Good Morning, America.

Hey, my feelings weren't hurt (too much). If you never ask, how can they say "yes"?

Setting up for the Oscars.
Which is why a made a last gasp application for "Oscars Setup."

The Academy relented. I can only speculate to what degree they were annoyed by all my other requests for credentials I had no chance of getting.

"Oscars Setup" means you're allowed onsite at the Kodak Theatre in the week leading up to ceremony. The pass does come with an expiration date, however: 11:00 a.m. on the day of the Awards. I made the B-List!

Enlisting my friends Christi and Jenn to help take pictures and shoot video, we trudged to Hollywood Saturday morning. Aside from one wrong turn into a press room we didn't have permission to enter, we had free access to the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard amid all the reporters and camera crews going about their business.

Yes, it was a geek moment.

Yes, we took an obligatory geek photo:

See? We really are on the red carpet.
Don't judge. I'm sure George Clooney has done the exact same thing.

Eventually, we did get down to work. While I wrote some last minute copy, Christi and Jenn took photos and shot B-roll footage. There was a surreal quality to it all. I've watched the Oscars on TV for over 40 years. They were required viewing at our house growing up and a tradition I have never missed as an adult. Whether the show is good or bad, whether the host hits or misses, it's always been "The Oscars." So, standing here in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard on the red carpet--even before all the stars came out--was a big deal. I'm sure that to the veteran technicians, camera people and talent setting up and rehearsing along side us, this was just another event to cover. Or not. I lost track of how many media types just like us were posing for pictures in front of the giant Oscar statue at the head of the carpet. Just make sure you don't photograph your press credentials.

Seriously, that was a major no-no. The Academy didn't want to risk any chance of credentials being copied.

A few hours later, we had the video shot and I headed back to my hotel. That's when the crazed race against time began. I learned a valuable lesson about how long it really takes to edit down video and especially how not to rely on unfamiliar Internet connections when deadlines are looming.

I also learned to fact check better. In Part 2, I incorrectly stated that Viola Davis received her first Oscar nomination for The Help. Actually, it was her first Best Actress nomination. Davis received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for 2008's Doubt.

I promise to do better next year.

Oh yes, there will be a next year. And this time, I'll be there early. After all, it's the Oscars.


I know it's after the fact, but here's Part 1 of my preview. This one managed to make it to YouTube in time:

For the elusive Part 2, click on the handsome face below:

No comments:

Post a Comment