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When you first arrive you’ll approach a table that usually has 4 or 5 girls aged 22 to 26. I know that’s not always the case, sometimes it varies. However, I dare you to count how many times that is the case and you’ll see it’s at least 80 percent of the time!
When you get to the table you’ll tell them your name and outlet. Usually they’ll give you your badge AND your cameraman’s badge. Sometimes they need to be there, sometimes not. I swear, as a camera guy, I was often handed it by the host who was already on the carpet, and often didn’t bother with one altogether. I guess they just don’t get a lot of rogue camera guys… After they check you off they should give you a tip sheet. If they don’t, then ask for one. Sometimes there will be somebody roaming the carpet asking if you need one, but not all the time. Another alternative is to borrow a neighbor’s, just make sure you give it back.
The tip sheet will tell you who they are expecting to walk the red carpet. Don’t get too excited though, most of the time not everyone one it will show up. OR, some bigger celeb will be on it, but they have no intention of walking the red carpet or doing questions. Tip sheets have other purposes than just letting you know who’s going to be there. It should tell you not only who, but who they are as it relates to the event.
This is extremely helpful for the people your not as familiar with, or people like the writers or directors that you wouldn’t recognize if they were in line next to you at Whole Foods. Besides being a good heads up, they can also help in post. Various outlets will want the tip sheet turned in with the footage. This will help the editor know the people as well, especially if you’re not going to produce it with them in the edit bay.
So mark off who you got, and turn it in. If someone isn’t on the tip sheet there is another way to help the editor, or even yourself out, when it’s someone a little more abstract. Once you identify who someone is, say it to camera either before, or right after the interview.
This can save you some time making that lower third and keep you from wasting 20 minutes on google trying to figure it out again. Sometime the publicist will hold up a sign with their name, which you should get as well. Obviously it’s for the lesser know people, and you only need it if it’s someone you intend to use in your segment.
Shooting a red carpet event can be very exciting, however it can also be one of the more stressful shooting situations there is.
The first question to ask yourself when as you determine your approach and the questions you will prepare is “What outlet are you there for?” Knowing who you are shooting for and where it will end up is key. Yes, there are people that have gotten access to a red carpet event only to get something they can use for their reel or a fan/hobby website they’ve created, but that is not the typical participant. More often than not, you are there for a specific outlet with a specific purpose. This is where your first concern should always be. Different outlets want different things.
You can have 4 people in a row ask George Clooney before the premier of his movie the following: “What was it like to direct as well as star in the movie?” “What are you wearing?,” “Is it true you’re up for a role in the new Star Wars movie?” “What do you think of the current Presidential scandal currently going on?” All are appropriate if that’s what you were sent there to do. All of the above could be applicable as well. You could be representing an entertainment site that is most interested in the actual movie premier, you could be working for some geek type fanboy site, you could be there as a fashion person, or you could be there for news site that actually wanted the dust up with some provocative questions. All have happened to me, and I’ll admit, when it was the ones going for just a provocative response I’ve cringed and even turned down the volume on my headphones while filming so I didn’t have to listen.
So know what your producer wants, and start with that. If you have complete freedom, sometimes the obvious is a good place to start. There is a risk to the obvious though, and that is the canned answer. You can actually see and hear them recite the same exact words they said to the correspondent right before you, the correspondent right before them, and now you. Doing your research can help you sometimes elicit a more personal, and interesting response.
For example, instead of “Tell me about your character in this movie” you might ask “Your character in this movie is such a departure from what you’ve done in the past. What was it about this character that attracted you to it?” It’s basically the exact same question, but it does a couple of things. One, it strokes the ego a little bit because it’s a little more about their “art” and second, the rephrasing makes them think about it a little more.
Now keep in mind that your outlet may be fined with just a canned sound bite, and you may also be talking to Sylvester Stallone about Rocky 10, in which case it wouldn’t really apply. The point is, think about not only the question, but how to get the type of response that you really want.