Blood, vampires, and a dash of playfulness – all perfect ingredients for the annual HBO True Blood premiere parties. As far as lighting a premiere event goes, this was one time that the phrase, There Will be Blood, was true!
Each year since the first premiere event, Images has had the pleasure of working with designer Billy Butchkavitz. Through many of the events there is a common – ahem – vein – that runs through them. The color red, naturally, a gobo projection of the logo often repeated several times, often a central tree and cemetery scene, some fun interactive element with the guests and of course, given that the designer is Billy B, each one has a wicked sense of style. While many elements stay the same, Billy works closely with HBO to ensure the event design always captures the essence of the upcoming season.
And while vampires live forever, not so for cable shows. We show our last respects with this photo essay of all the True Blood premiere events. We may be saying goodbye and fangs for the memories, but we’ve learned that there really is no keeping a good vampire down.
We begin our retrospective at a unique venue — the rooftop of ArcLight Hollywood’s parking lot. Nothing like starting out with a challenge! Billy designed a central tree, surrounded by a small graveyard. With no rigging points from which to hang our gear, we got creative by rigging the hardware to light trees and pipe and base. Gobos in monochromatic tones added interest to the lighting design, beginning a trend that would continue through each year’s premiere event.
This year Billy added an intricate and very realistic backdrop to the party at Boulevard 3. To light it as realistically as possible, and ensure that no seams would be seen, we used uplights which filled in any creases and helped create dimension. Gobos added texture to the ballroom surfaces and patio area while smaller areas were detailed out with candles and projections from the show.
Overall, Billy gravitated towards a monochromatic color scheme with the True Blood premieres. Being emerged in one color for too long presents a challenge as the color becomes a neutral and actually the eye and mind no longer recognize it. To avoid this and keep the party vibrant we used accent colors. The venue, the Hollywood Athletic Club (formerly Social Hollywood Athletic Club) was lighted in mainly red in the foyer with an added touch of candlelight for accent. In the main room, Billy did the opposite with a wall of candles and just a touch of red in the design elements. Centerpieces were a nod to the Southern locale of the show, and its town, Bon Temps.
The year we did this event at the Lure Hollywood Nightclub was one of the darkest parties we have ever created, both literally and figuratively! The affect of blood dripping from the walls was achieved through video mapping.
Back again at the Hollywood Athletic Club, red was the prevailing color all the way around. An addition of ethereal creatures in hanging “coffins” created a chilling effect.
Billy’s designs always begin and end with texture which we play off of with lighting and gobos. Back at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the event once again featured a central custom-built tree. To create texture in the space around it, we layered gobo light patterns that covered nearly every surface. This, coupled with the texture used in the upholstery, furniture, and pillows, created an elegant space. Once again Billy used a scenic backdrop alluding to the show’s Louisiana locale to which we added uplights for a daytime effect. And the addition of Astroturf for grass was one of his brilliant touches that truly transformed the space into a Southern landscape.
True Blood 2008 – 2014 RIP. We will miss lighting these inspired premiere events. However, we rest easy knowing that nothing lasts forever … except perhaps every episode of True Blood which no doubt will remain in syndication for decades to come!
All photos by Gabor Ekecs