Thursday, September 12, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER: Hillary Harris - Adding Hollywood Magic to Special Events at Warner Bros. Studios

It's always incredible when you get to take time and really connect with fellow industry colleagues and especially those that have been doing what you're doing for so much longer! Loved meeting with Hillary and having established a true beginning to a wonderful new relationship above what's just professional. Here's to good friends and to an amazing blog post below! Thanks Hillary! 

Guest Blog by Hillary Harris
A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of having lunch on the lot with Joella Hopkins of Mumtaz Marketing & Events at the Warner Bros. Fine Dining Commissary. Over our lunch of the chef’s special crab cakes, gazpacho and burgers, we talked about everything. My favorite part of the lunch was when Joella told me the story of how she came by the word “mumtaz” for her company.

What was great about it was the way she pulled me into the story – describing everything in detail and engaging all the senses. I felt as if I was with her on her journey inside a pyramid in Egypt. I felt the heat of the desert and the cold dark environment inside the stone. I listened in the silence she described and felt the joy she felt when she emerged. And I understood the word, mumtaz; the exceptional experience – she encountered.

After our lunch, I thought a lot about that word and realized that mumtaz is something we are always creating on the lot -- the exceptional experience for our clients and their guests. Here are a few.

The backlot of Warner Bros. has many faces, from a steamy futuristic street in the vein of Blade Runner’s futuristic Asian look …
… to a wild, mod sixties lounge look. 
This is also New York Street, believe it or not! Video digital mapping allowed the studio façade to be completely transformed. As you can see, it’s surprising how easily locations with traditional architecture such as Brownstone and New York Streets can slip into something more exotic. With the right mood, décor and lighting, guests are swept away into another world with sight, sounds, feeling and taste, completely enveloping their senses.

And then some other locations are simply exotic on their own such as the jungle/lagoon area. 
Our lagoon can be drained, as it was here, to create a beautiful and wild setting in the middle of the city! This gorgeous event was the premiere for Game of Thrones. Or, the lagoon can remain filled for the perfect Twilight look, or Cajun Bayou.

Soundstages are a huge part of the studio experience and we are able to hold events on them between productions. Because it’s so unusual, the location immediately ensures a memorable, and well-attended, event. Who doesn’t want to have dinner on a working soundstage? Instant magic.
This event fell right between the wrap of a TV show and the start of a movie. It was the perfect venue for a hugely successful fund-raising event for Providence St. Joe’s.

And of course, there is the history of the lot – our 90th anniversary was this year in fact! To bring all this magic to the guest experience, events can begin at the SJR Theatre. Here, in the shadow of the famous water tower, a red carpet greeting and step-and-repeat wall can be done for charity, association and corporate events as well as Hollywood events. From here, it’s an easy few steps to Brownstone Street where so many iconic movies and TV shows have been filmed and where, as you’ve seen, event designers can create a multitude of fantastic looks.
After lunch, Joella enjoyed a VIP tour with me at the wheel of my studio golf cart (it’s the only way to get around the lot and a lot of fun as well). As she learned, Warner Bros. has many more locations for events – 13 in all. And we have several additions underway to the WB experience which I’ll be revealing in the coming months on my blog. So stay tuned. There’s a lot happening on the lot and I’m looking forward to sharing it all with you.

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