Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Charmed Weekend

A year and a half ago I started talking about how when Flipped came out I wanted to have a "Red Carpet Premiere" for my friends and family and people who had been supportive of my writing endeavors. I had no idea what it would take to pull together something like this, but I really liked the idea of creating a Hollywood-style event for the people who have been good to me.
It just seemed like fun.
Well! I didn't know anything about securing the film or renting a theater or whether rental places in this area even had red carpets, but over the past six months I've learned a lot.
Necessary, but by no stretch fun.
Then after we'd finally confirmed a date, a location, and a reel of Flipped, I had a brainstorm.
Or so I thought.
Mark says I can never keep things simple, and he's probably right. But this idea was, that I just had to do it. So I set up a "matinee" showing that would run before the friends and family showing, and gave "passes" to all the local library branches and whatever schools wanted to participate in raffling off the passes as fundraisers.
This GREATLY complicated things, as I was now dealing with a lot of different entities and their individual needs. I generated fliers, acquired movie posters, designed invitations, and gave presentations at principals' meetings. I became an e-mailing machine.
I also ordered things from party supply companies--why keep it simple when there's so much potential fun to be had?
Well, about three weeks ago, I was a nerve-frayed wreck. There was just too much for me to coordinate. I was losing it. Overwhelmed. A wreck.
I was definitely not having fun yet.
Mark (kind of shaking his head at me, 'cause, you know, I should have kept it simple) suggested that I hire a party planner.
You have to understand that I'm not the party-planner kind. If I can do it, I do do it. But I was to the point of desperation, so he handed me a number and I called.
The party planner was delighted to hear of my upcoming Red Carpet Event, and would have love-love-loved to help, but she would be out of town in August.
She gave me another number.
That woman would also have love-love-loved to help, but she was having a baby in August.
She gave me another number.
That woman was available and not only would she love-love-love to help, but she would do everything from check names off at the party to find me a caterer...for a mere seventy-five dollars an hour.
Seventy-five dollars an hour???
(Mind you there was no mention of the heavy lifting of say, red carpets and chrome posts and plants and such.)
Mark's reaction was the same, and so we shelved the party planner idea and I forged ahead. And as the day of the party grew nearer, a friend came over and helped me stuff 400 plastic eggs with little fuzzy chicks and jelly beans, helped me process (sign) all the books I was giving away as gifts, and helped me write the names of all the guests on stick-down stars that would mock up the Avenue of the Stars.
With that done, I was feeling a little better.
Then I bought plants (cheaper than renting) and ran around for DAYS getting supplies and food (because out-of-towners were invited over to our house for breakfast the following morning), and cleaned my house, and "made over" my son's room for company, and did all that pre-party-prep that turns women into exhausted shells of their formerly perky selves.
Then, a few days before the party, I found out that Madeline Carroll (the lead female--"Juli"in the film) was going to be attending. And that Callan (Bryce) and Israel (Garrett) and Stefanie (Dana) might also be coming.
I became a hotel booker and press agent, ringing up the media and finding movie stars places to stay. I didn't know about local press feeding into Los Angeles affiliates, but my journalist friend told me what to ask the stations, and I did. I was on the phone for hours, explaining to journalists that this would be the first time the two leads were at a premiere because at the earlier (Warner Brothers premieres) Callan had been tied up shooting another film and couldn't make it.
This was all very exciting, but it was also stressful for me.
I'm not Warner Brothers.
I don't have a team of professionals helping me.
I'm just me.
Stuffing eggs.
Making my own Avenue of the Stars.
In a little local theater.
In a little town.
And I had four movie stars coming?
I had bought this "City Scape" from one of the on-line party supply companies. We'd measured the distance from the base of the angled outdoor marquee to the sidewalk and had bought this "City Scape" with the intention of using it as a photo backdrop which would hold Flipped posters and be used to snap pictures of each group that entered the theater. But I couldn't assemble it at home because it was too big to transport after it was put together.
So the morning before the party, my son and I arranged to go to the theater before their regular programming and assembled the city scape in the lobby.
Basically, it was black cardboard that needed taping, cross bracing (cardboard tubes), back bracing (cardboard wedges) and little white lights put on. The assembly was actually not bad. It didn't look great, but it wasn't bad. But we were to the point of attaching the Flipped posters when I realized that this mammoth piece of cardboard in the theater lobby was too tall to stand up, too wide to fit out the door, and too cumbersome to store anywhere.
So we wound up folding it along the seams, stuffing it in a back room, and telling the manager we'd be back the next day to put it together outside.
To make a long, very frustrating story short, cardboard and wind don't work well together (unless you're trying to create a Flying City) and the City Scape wound up in the Dumpster.
Then--and this is the day of the party that the City Scape got Dumpsterfied--the manager tells us that a package from Warner Brother had just arrived. It turned out to be a gigantic plastic enlargement of the Flipped poster, which we hung from the marquee as the backdrop. It was perfect! (Thank you WB!!)
Then we rolled out the carpet (and taped it down with red duct tape), put up the velvet ropes, arranged the plants, put on the music, set up the check-in podium, and before long the matinee winners were lining up to get in.
The Flipped stars weren't supposed to arrive until the matinee was well underway, but I didn't actually believe they would show until Callan (Bryce) rolled up to the curb in a black Porsche. Then suddenly Madeline and Stefanie and Israel were there too.
How cool is that???
I'd come up with a timeline and while the press interviewed them in the lobby during the matinee, I had them sign the books I was giving away to any of the matinee kids who had found a gold coin in their stuffed plastic egg (which was buried inside their popcorn).
And when the movie was done playing, I went down to the front of the theater and, one by one, I called down the actors to join me.
The kids who had won tickets through their school or library were so jazzed to be at the movie in the first place -- they'd gotten dressed up, walked the red carpet, had photos taken with me in the lobby and had gotten free popcorn and soda -- but now, right before their eyes, the characters they'd just seen on the big screen were walking through the aisles.
Talk about applause!
Everyone was stunned! Amazed! And in a kind of state of disbelief.
And I felt so happy that I'd been able to coordinate this day for the kids in my community. It really was unbelievable.
As the kids filed out, each stopped for a picture with the group of actors (and got their free book if they had a gold coin). The actors were SO patient and kind to the kids, and even though it took a while to get through everybody, they never complained.
Then we had a short scarf-up-some-food break before we started letting people on the carpet for the friends-and-family showing.
That part was a blast for me. People from New Hampshire, New York, St. Louis, San Diego, the Bay Area were there. People I haven't seen in years were there. And they were all totally glammed up! I got hugs, gave hugs, and my son took each party's picture in front of that amazing banner with the 4 movie stars.
After everyone was seated, I gave out "Fuzzy Awards" -- little Oscar-style statues that I'd super-glued fuzzy chicks to. They went to 12 people who, in one way or another, stood out in the way they'd helped me as a writer.
Then we watched the movie!
And when the credits rolled and my name went by, the theater roared!
Then I gave everyone a movie-tie-in book, and sent them off to an informal after-party meeting place, then tore down the decorations, and rolled up the carpet.
It was an awesome night.
And, in the end, it was SO much fun.


Anonymous said...

It really MUST have been fun because i actually had a lot of fun READING about it haha. :D
And the blonde actress, I don't know her name, looks like Taylor Momsen. :D Which is a good thing. Actually, she looks like Taylor from the first season of Gossip Girl, before she went all alternative. :P Anyway, sounds like a lo of fun! Most people wouldn't do something cool like that so that's pretty awesome. :)

Eleanor said...

The premier was AWESOME me & my friend won tickets @ our library & we brought my dad & sister! The movie was AMAZING & then we got to get our pictures taken with the stars!! It was probably the best thing thats ever happened to me! It was so cool to find the eggs in our popcorn my dad didn't get it at first cause he's never read the book. The movie was SO good my dad was almost crying through some parts (It brought him back to his childhood) I LOVED THE PREMIER

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Eleanor! Mark says you introduced yourself to him. I must have met you, but it was incredibly busy and I don't know who you are! Do you have a picture? E-mail me at the etrtr mailbox. I'm so glad were able to come and that you enjoyed it. I wish everyone who visits this blog could have been there. Sending out warm fuzzies to all of you!

Eleanor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eleanor said...

I don't think I met Mark but I might have, my profile picture is of me (On the side next to you) my best friend (in the middle) & my sister (on the other side) My friend & I were so happy to get to go to your premiere! We had a bake sale & used the money to buy 36 raffle tickets at our library!

Aya said...

The movie premiere was far better than I thought it would be. The movie itself was cute and seeing the actual actors/actress was unbelievably amazing to me.. thanks for this opportunity! Oh! and I took a picture with the stars, but I don't know where I can see them.. do you happen to know where or what site to go to? THANKS SO MUCH!

Jinnyd said...

That sounded so much fun!!! It's amazing that the whole thing went along without too many scrapes (except for the dumpsterized City Scape...but that was resolved too!).

I'm also amazed by your ability to organize this entire, huge, totally awesome premiere! Doing all of the preparations must've been exhausting, but it's always worth it, right? :-)

Hope the next SK book is coming along well! (ahahaha)

Elizabeth said...

Everything JinnyD said XD lol. I can't wait to see Flipped! Thanks so much for doing that for your community and fans! I'm sure it was a surreal evening for everyone who got to participate, and the fact that you put so much effort into it is amazing. Congratulations on a tough job well done! :D

Wild About Words said...

That's it; I'm moving to New York. I have to see this movie soon. Movie execs, pay attention: Everyone in the country deserves to see this movie. Spread the Flipped love . . . and spread it now!
I absolutely loved your description of preparing for and enjoying your big event. A real dream come true!
All best,

Pooja Dimba said...

Weelll all the hard work payed off.
It must have been fun!

Helen said...

you are really super woman Wendelin! it sounds like an AMAZING night that i don't think the guests will ever experience again! i wish i was there!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Thanks everybody! My son has yet to post the pix from the matinee on-line, but I will get on him and let you know when they're up.

Lauren-Lauren said...

I cant wait to the next book.
What will happen toSammy next?
Is casey's and Sammy's mom and dad getting married!