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 so...cool, 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.
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.