Designing a Grand Entrance … at the Airport
By Matt Allen
It is a well known fact that we only get one first chance to make a memorable lasting impression with our event design. This season, MMD Events was tasked to produce a space for the IIFA- International Indian Film Academy Awards. For the first time since its inception, the prestigious IIFA, or as it’s otherwise known, the Bollywood Awards, was being held in the United States.
MMD Events produced what was called the “Star Arrival Area” at Tampa International Airport. The purpose of this area was to serve as the initial welcoming grounds to Tampa for the throngs of celebrities, press, and fans that were in attendance for the awards.
The first thing we do when we start a event design and production job is brainstorm and determine the top priorities of the event. From that point on we begin considering all the possible production and financial roadblocks we may incur. This then brings us to the production of all the drawings, sketches, schematics and timelines that we then submit to the client and our production teams.
For this particular event we established that our top priority was to provide a gorgeous staging area which was to feature the signature “green” carpet. This space gave the media and fans a chance to greet and interact with the celebrities as they arrived while still providing a high level of safety to the stars.
One of our biggest challenges for this project was its tent location on the roof of the main parking garage. That’s right the roof… that meant no big box trucks; everything had to be brought up in lots of little trips with a pickup truck, which of course required more labor time.
In particular, this impacted how we built the masterpiece of our production — our hedge wall (see schematics below). The construction of the hedge wall had to be orchestrated in a way that could be transported in small pieces and assembled on site.
MMD Events is quite familiar with the use of traditional hedging. However, due to the nature of this event, our hedging had to serve two fold – both as a beautiful prop and more importantly as a safety barricade for the celebrities in attendance. We built the hedge with a removable base and interlocking pieces so that we could fasten it all together on site. We also used a stronger plywood and reinforced the frame due to the amount of stress that would be put on this piece. We made a four-foot-wide base and ensured the base was flat enough to go under the green carpet and work as a stabilizer to keep the whole piece from being pushed over.
Anytime you have a custom-built product for an event, it’s crucial that you not only know the size of the piece, but also how it will get to the event. You need to consider transportation, doorway and hallway sizes. Elevators, stairs and weight of the object will all have a direct effect on how you move and handle the piece. For this reason all the pieces were made in four-foot increments that were 36 inches tall. We built everything so that it would interlock on site and become one solid piece adding to the structural integrity.
Once we had the design and measurements figured out, construction went on without a hitch. We then needed to prep the wood by sanding, priming and then painting the base green. By matching the base paint color to the color of the leaves on the hedge it gave the illusion of more depth and any wood that could be seen disappeared.
Our grandest piece of décor in the production of the IIFA Star Arrival Tent was by far the hedge wall. The construction of this piece provided not only safety for the stars but was visually pleasing and worked in tandem with the “green” carpet, proving a better option than the traditional roped barricades used around perimeters.
Being that the IIFA Star Arrival Tent was set to be one of the most highly photographed areas in Tampa during the award season — we spared no creativity. To complete our space, for added embellishments we brought in color with fabric treatments in the tent ceiling, added interest with oversized gold beaded chandeliers and paper star lanterns and professional lighting to highlight and shine a light on the green carpet and all that were to walk it.
While perhaps not Cannes or Hollywood, for one day MMD Events made Tampa International Airport an award-worthy entrance for the stars of this international event.
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