Event Solutions: Focus on - Awards and film premieres

Premieres and awards shows can be very lucrative but it's still a tough market to work in, says Adam Woods.

The niche industry that focuses on film premiere production has benefited in recent years from the movie business's adoption of such events as essential promotional activity in major territories. Where once a premiere was exactly what its name suggested, these days international film stars are called upon to fan out across the globe to attend as many local opening nights as possible.

"It has been a very busy time for us," says Nibbs creative director Helen Strange. "I don't know if that particularly reflects on the industry as a whole, although it probably does."

Nibbs is one of a handful of companies that each take a share of the London premiere business. Others involved in this particular sphere include AD Events and Concorde Media. Amanda Davies' AD Events has recently rolled out the red carpet for Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and Superman, while Concorde's recent output has included the premieres for Happy Feet and Jackass 2, while Rocky 6 is in the pipeline for January.

Recent productions involving Nibbs have included the premiere for the Dreamworks/Aardman Christmas offering Flushed Away, as well as events for The Holiday and the headline-grabbing Bond spectacular Casino Royale.


Commercial tie-ins are increasingly common in this area of the film world; the premiere of The Devil Wears Prada, for example, was supported by Nissan and also had a guest charity in the shape of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The trick is in making all of the elements work together, according to Chrissie Ferber, director of Concorde Media, which organised the premiere and party for the film.

A brand of designer bag that was featured in the film, starring Meryl Streep, was sold online in aid of the charity beforehand, while Nissan gloried in its own branded mirror ball at the after-show party, which took place at trendy London restaurant Sketch. "The party was lovely and it was just nice mixing all the brands together," says Ferber.

The number of film premieres taking place in London has spiralled in recent years, and for those who can't run to the cost of a full Leicester Square bash, event companies are quick to recommend the alternative of a celebrity screening, for example at a London hotel. Such pared-down events offer many of the same possibilities for spin-off publicity but at a rather more reasonable cost.


High-end awards shows and premieres are very different propositions, but they have perhaps two things in common: they typically attract coach-loads of stars, and require absolutely razor-sharp logistical execution.

And whereas 20 years ago national awards shows such as the Baftas or the Brits were more or less live events that were usually televised, these days no awards show can go live on television if it offers anything less than an unforgettable spectacle.

Over the past decade production companies such as Done and Dusted, whose recent productions include the MTV Video Music Awards in New York in August, have been created with this fusion of film and live event in mind. Other shows, such as the Baftas, produced in 2006 by Initial, which is part of Endemol, are likewise created as television properties first and foremost.

Needless to say, most awards events are not televised blockbusters, but that does not necessarily mean more modest productions cannot learn a few things from their big-budget counterparts.

"Television knows that it has to work quite hard to keep its audience, and some of the things that they do we should probably learn from in the live events industry," says Sara Donaldson, client services director at Live, whose key awards show project is the Visit London Awards.

"You need to break the activity up so that there isn't an hour-and-a-half of people just going up on stage. It is also important that you convey why the person with the award has actually won it," Donaldson adds.

On television or off, the great advantage of an awards show for an events company is the fact that it is more or less guaranteed to come around on an annual basis - provided, of course, that the event is done well.

Donaldson says that the price producers have to pay in order to guarantee continued involvement in this exciting sector is the work they must put in to keep the events fresh - and moving with the times.

"Historically, awards shows have been a bit of a party, a bit of a booze-up, but these days they have to work much harder than that," she says.

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