Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Oscars 2018 - Capturing the set-up...

I had the opportunity once again, to be behind the scenes at the 90th Oscars in Hollywood;  I was able to spend 3 days capturing the many dedicated workers scrambling around the large set-up for the Red Carpet. 

This was my 5th visit to the event since 2011, as a Production Assistant (with a camera...and growing carpet photo experience) to the well known LA based News Reporter, Steve Gregory of KFI Radio / iHeart Media as I again was granted access to production areas and an assigned seat in Press Room during the 3 (plus...) hour event. With such access - I began exploring and capturing the beehive of activity - creating a personal archive of Black+White memories that I am hoping to eventually capture the attention of AMPAS and the future Academy museum. 

So - 7 years in, I can now also claim to notice both consistency and also a few changes in the set-up, production and Academy procedures as the event grows, changes and facing new challenges - especially this year when the rain poured down on Friday morning...

Years ago, with my initial limited access, I chose to focus upon specific specialized workers who raced around the site. This included the Set Builders, Painters, and even the very dedicated Carpet Cleaners. Some of these people go completely unnoticed as they complete their specific tasks during the light of day or in the middle of the night, other times they are the center of attention - just before the carpet goes "live" they are either cleaning, repairing or modifying the set as "enthusiastically" instructed by the Directors of various ABC Television networks - as it truly becomes the center of the earth for a few hours. 

I certainly have seen my share of glitz, glam and countless selfies being embellished by the Carpet setting, since 2011, but I am always drawn back to the quiet confidence these hard working crews present as they create the set; all rolling together in a symphony of power tools, brushes and tape measures; as I follow them quietly with my camera. 

There were a few challenges this year, and I certainly was always cordially engaged by the Press/Media Guides supplied by the Academy to answer my questions...or rapidly inform me of which areas I was "not" to tread.  It was great to run into fellow Photographers like Al (LA Times), Chris and a new Photographer for the Academy - Chris. I listened to their stories and their insights on the changes, and how social media "needs and intentions" are challenging the way emotions and actions of nominees or winners...are captured by the Professionals - carpet or backstage. 

During the show - I have again had the opportunity to hear the commotion backstage of the Press "Shooting Gallery" shouting at the winners to give them eye contact as they hold their prize, or had the exclusive opportunity to witness the interviews of the winners and their candid explanations to the Press about their surprise, thankfulness or insights on their journey to become a winner, either with 1 nomination at the start of their career...or 15+ previous ones. 

I encourage you to take a look online which does show both the nominees and winners and the ocean of talent that the Academy highlights each year. Summations of all the deserving Nominees are illustrated. I guess I should have put money where my mouth was - pre-show I was telling everybody the "Silent Child" was going to win best Live Action Short...

Sunday mid day - just prior to the expiry of my security access to the Carpet (as the whole Carpet is cleared + Accredited Press is asked to take their positions at 1:30pm sharp) I was quietly approached at the start of the Carpet by a well dressed vision impaired guest holding her cane, who needed to get to her meeting "on the third floor". Thus - I had the privilege of escorting an Academy Member down the inner carpet area, the lane reserved for the Big Wigs. We slowly walked, taking in the moment. She held my arm close - we spoke to each other, I noted we were gaining some attention, as well as I cautioned her of the obstacles of the velvet ropes, the TV camera tripods and the hazard of dropped breath mints along our way. As I have been pointed out before at Burning Man...you're such a damn Boyscout. Yup - I agree...

Enjoy! Thank you for your thoughts and comments!  MM  

Sunday 1:29pm - All are in position - Carpet ready to go "live".
1:21pm- un-phased by the crowd - last minute repairs on the carpet. 
1:11pm- Sunday - fine tuning the carpet on the steps while actors pose for promo shots.

12:51pm - Selfies central...
12:41pm - plastic covering removed - and fingerprints polished away.
12:21pm- preparing for a live spot on a local station. (Wendy of KTLA) 

8:31am - Sunday Morning- carpet on the intersection, and finally the sun clears the building in behind me so I can get a better lit shot...

7:31am - Sunday Morning - the sun starts indirectly illuminating the street carpet off of reflections from other buildings - car reception area.

1:11am Sunday am -  Joe of Mobile Joes, Carpet Cleaning - the First Official Oscars Sunday portrait from the Carpet

12:51am - a persistent and focused carpet cleaner in action. 

12:11am - Sunday am - First official photo from the Red Carpet on Oscars Sunday. I get these every time....

7:31pm - Saturday - Set Painters - quick and fun group shot.

6:31pm - Saturday - the covering is removed - and so is the public from this area. 

5:31pm - darkness decends upon the carpet saturday night - Reporters practice - Riggers rig! 

3:31pm - Fine tuning - and my new best friend - and future character reference for the Academy... "Ralph" photo bombing...

2:21pm - Ralph - Proud Electrician-Stagehand - He has a million (and a half) stories. Stones, Metalica and other big tours... 

2:21pm - Saturday - adding gold leaf and fixing all small details. 

1:11pm Saturday -  adding more gold leaf

11:31am Saturday - adding more red carpet - this guy is a very, very busy person.

10:31am Saturday - the stand ins- arrive - a quick group shot of half of them. (thank You Steve for allowing me to capture the shot!) 

9:31am Saturday - more carpet added - by the very, very busy aforementioned guy. 

8:21am Saturday - fine tuning the set - and trying to keep it dry.

7:51am Saturday - more lighting added to Dolby theatre hallway. 

7:41am Saturday - Ralph arrives - early for his shift. Great stories + insights ensue! 

7:21am Saturday - adding safety wires to the decor...as per code I assume.

7:31pm - Friday - the rain continues; and fans linger to get a shot.

11:30 am Friday - raindrops and Oscar logo. Make art when you can...

10:30am Friday - Statues are set out for photo ops. 

Oscars arrive - Photographers scramble....Oscars photo op - except they are dry - we wanted rain drops on them

Friday Morning - Rain on the set - Mobile Joe is not going to like this...  :( 

Friday Afternoon as it rains even more - additional protection to protect the carpet from the rain and pedestrian traffic.

6:01 am - Saturday morning - all quiet on the carpet - before the craziness begins....

6:42am - structures rapidly going up as the Carpenters scramble.

7:22am - building continues - just inside the entrance of the Dolby Theatre. 

8:12am - buliding continues - the biggest guy on the crew- lifts the most. 

8:49am - details are always important to the building crew. 

9:49 am Saturday - Oscars dried and are shed of there photo covering. Selfies will be prevalent around these areas...
1:25pm - Sunday - me + my tux - and a personal story as well.  :) 

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Dear Friends - Yes - it has been eons since I added to this blog. 

Life, my amazing partner Sandra, work, rapid travel, personal time out efforts with my aforementioned Girl, a reconfiguration of photo efforts, and demands for free photography continue to prevail (don't get me started...$#@! - I'd advise ducking for that next blog post) ...in a world that is getting more corrosive with egos and sad events every day... have kept me away from this medium for a long time. 

Again - thank you again for taking time to catch up with me.

I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of Dr. Mineo Kawasaki. 

Dr. Kawasaki was both the smallest and quietest attendees to the Air Medical Transport Conference and the reason many years ago I reached out to him at the event, coordinating introductions and party invites...as my style is to always look out for the little guy, and thus an amazing international friendship grew. Perhaps his English may have been strained; but his communication and love to our US community was evident in every visit to this annual event, and as I have recently learned, other unique US communities as well. 

When a gap in communication occurred after the major Earthquake in Japan in 2011, I was worried...but a brief email reply re-assured me he was ok. Public speaking in English was prohibitive for him, so I decided to take matters into my own hands - I asked him to write a small report about the tsunami, with a few photos that I could print out. I took the initiative at the 2011 AMTC in St. Louis, by commandeering a bulletin board actually reserved for scientific posters, and I proceeded to thumbtack his post tsunami story and his medical care initiatives for his community, all with his accompanying photos. (again, my appologies to the Scientific Committee) This continued to build our friendship, annually re-affirmed at the AMTC, which also lead to cookies and a unique gift arriving every Christmas to Canada.

The last time I saw Mineo, was at the Ft Worth AMTC. Looking a bit frail, but still radiating friendship and positivity, we managed to sit down one morning in the lobby of his hotel prior to taking a day trip with some Ft. Worth friends - who also like a few other Americans - have their own stories about Mineo as well. We spoke about many nice things, and my wish that I could some how visit him in Japan and take a few photos of him at work. Sadly, as I learned news of his passing earlier this month, this will not happen, nor will the AMTC be graced with his quiet yet loving presence.

Rest in Peace Mineo. Big Sigh. I miss You my Dear Friend.  :(  M