Every year, HBO hosts a Golden Globes after-party event (held early in the year) that is centered around a theme, usually one of its nominated television series or feature films. This year’s theme was the HBO film Behind the Candelabra, a film about Liberace starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. It was was up for four Golden Globe Awards and took home one for Best Miniseries / Movie. All the more reason for Billy Butchkavitz to help HBO pop the champagne.
Along with projections of champagne bubbles, Billy brought in other elements as homage to Liberace’s over-the-top style. He played off of many of his signatures — chandeliers, textures, rhinestones, oversized props, and lots of glitz and glam. For our lighting design, we picked up on the vintage baroque angle and created a lighting color palette of champagne and red with gold accents.
It all began with scaffolding the pool of the Beverly Hills Hilton. In the past, this pool has been incorporated into the event design, but this year Billy’s design required the extra space for his vision of large-scale extravagance. Walls were built that were as tall as the hotel, hiding the pool deck walls, and turning them into décor elements. These walls were then draped with a luxurious, red and gold print fabric. We placed lighting at the top and aimed it down for dramatic effect. Gold chandeliers were hung from the walls, and to make them really stand out, we built custom Plexiglass boxes with gold frames for effect.
In lieu of extensive video mapping, we created the big wall visual using conventional lighting; several gobo rotators created a solid projection of overlapping moving damask texture. It was certainly unusual, in this day and age of high-tech, to actually go old school and recreate a look by using old technology, but of course it worked beautifully!
The same approach was taken with the HBO logo. We used automated fixtures to project the logo, overlapping it with MAC III projectors that have branding capabilities. We spent time ensuring they were lined up exactly so that it looked like a single image. This created a more intense image, and served as a great backup if needed.
Leopard print lounges were placed around the event perimeter, with candelabra-shaped gold dividers between them. Uplighting was used on these dividers to bring attention to the décor. Circular lounges were also placed throughout the space, offering contrast to the red and gold printed dining tables where we had placed soft candle lighting. A gobo of champagne bubbles was used to light the entire space for one last textured element. Together, the various patterns and colors worked together to create a uniquely textured space that was as extravagant and lavish as Liberace was.
Photos by Gabor Ekecs