New York's downtown district, which continues to suffer aftershocks from September 11, got an enormous boost from the Tribeca Film Festival, which ran May 9-12. Producers Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal have long contemplated a local film festival; the result was an ambitious project, where hundreds of films were screened, ranging from summer blockbusters to independent features, short subjects, and documentaries. Making it all happen was a dedicated team of downtown lighting, sound, scenery, and event production people who provided support for the screenings, press conferences, and parties that made up the festival.

Karen Dalzell, president and Jen Cubias, production director, of Dalzell Productions, were responsible for the special events related to the festival. Dalzell tapped set/lighting designer/technical wizard Kyle Chepulis of Technical Artistry as the key person to supervise the technical side. (The festival was “all Kyle, all the time,” she laughs.) Chepulis, in turn, involved downtown companies Big Apple Lights/Big Apple Production Services (Patrick O'Rourke and Pat Dignan leading the way) and One Dream Sound, plus a lineup of supporting companies, designers, and technicians.

American Express was one of many sponsors of the Tribeca Film Festival, held in May in lower Manhattan.

The festival opened with a press conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel, then really kicked off with an opening ceremony at City Hall. Showman Fabricators built the set, which consisted of the festival's logo, designed by Margeotes, Fertitta and Partners in steel and clear Plexiglas®. Chepulis says the set's transparency allowed attendees to see the city behind the speakers, reinforcing the pro-New York underpinnings of the event. Ken Lapham, of Event Lights, Inc., was the site supervisor and lighting coordinator for the press conference, which was lit with six 2K Strand Bambino fresnels plus four 2.5K (or 4K) HMI PARs and one L&E 8' Mini-Strip. Sound equipment included Clair Brothers R-4 Series III speakers, Countryman podium mics, XTA processors(DP226. DP224, DP220, and GQ600), Klark-Teknik equalizers (DN360 and DN410), Chevin amplifiers, and a Crest XR-20 console. Also important were press boxes by Whirlwind and Op Amp Labs because, says Dave Ferdinand of One Dream, “getting a clean professional feed to the press people,” on CNN and other networks, was crucial to publicizing the event.

During the opening ceremony, Big Apple Production Services staff set up the first screening, About a Boy, at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center (TPAC), located at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Outside TPAC, the staff set up a press pen, over 200' of red carpet, a series of “set and repeat” (a longish scrim backing featuring the logos of About a Boy and the film festival running the length of the carpet); the entrance, with 10' — tall digitally printed silk banners, listing the festival's sponsors, designed by David Prittie, was lit by ETC Source Four units. Inside, lighting coordinator Jason Livingston set up a treatment in which the theatre's ceiling panels were lit by Source Fours, with Wybron Coloram scrollers creating washes using colors taken from the festival's logo (including L154 Pale Rose, L162 Bastard Amber, R114 Hamburg Frost, R119 Light Hamburg Frost and R104 Tough Silk) and three Vari*Lite VL7 units rigged with custom templates (from Rosco) that projected the festival's logo on the main projection screen, as well as that of chief sponsor American Express, on the walls. Placed at the entrance to the theatre was a lightbox, designed by Chepulis and made by Falcon Perspectives, also displaying the festival's logo, to further “brand” the event.

The Embassy Suites Hotel

That night, the festival's opening party took place at the Regent Wall Street Hotel; lighting coordinator was Christien Methot. The exterior of the hotel, which featured the step and repeats along the red carpet and the two silk sponsor banners, was lit using 30 Source Four PARs, under the control of an EDI two — channel, two — scene controller, with an ETC Sensor dimmer pack for power. Inside, an onstage TFF logo lightbox changed colors, thanks to Fiberstars 601 illuminators and side-emitting fiber. The columns inside the hotel were lit by Source Four PAR units with Wybron scrollers, with three VL7 units again projecting the logos of the festival and American Express. Control was provided by an ETC Expression II board. The sound equipment lineup included more Clair Bros. R4 speakers, a number of Meyer speakers (including CQ-1s, UPA1Ps, 650-Ps, and UPM-1Ps), under the control of the Crest XR-20 console.

Another party was held on Saturday at the Embassy Suites Hotel, which has a 15 — story atrium, with elevator banks on one side. Chepulis placed video projectors on top of each elevator, which showed festival promos; images rose and fell with the elevators, projecting on the adjacent walkways. (The Eiki XT-2 770 — lumen projectors were supplied by MBP Image Display, of Fairfield, NJ.) Methot was the lighting coordinator for this event as well; he created color washes on the main wall of the atrium using 43 VL5Arc units, with the VL7 units for logo projection. (Big Apple Production Services built platforms for the speakers and to anchor the trussing for the Vari-Lite gear). The automated units were controlled by a Wholehog II console. Chepulis also added extra color by gelling a series of fluorescent units on poles that are part of the hotel's interior design. He adds that Mike Hernandez, the hotel's event coordinator, and Mike O'Leary, chief engineer, were extremely helpful. Ferdinand carried over his gear from the previous party, with some Meyer USW-1Ps added for the additional party rooms; Methot did lighting treatments in them, using Source Fours.

The final big event was the closing awards ceremony at Pace University, with lighting coordinated by Frances Aronson. The red carpet and step and repeats at Pace were lit with TMB PowerPAR 575s (units also used in several other locations). In the auditorium, there were more color washes on the onstage cyc. Lighting was controlled by the house console, an ETC Express System. Scharff Weisberg set up a video system for film clips and video and graphic projection. In addition, says Dalzell, thanks to David Miller, who consulted with Apple Computers, who donated time and gear, “We were able to produce an awards show, not knowing the winners until three hours beforehand, and still create graphics for the event.” The sound lineup included more Meyer speakers (UPA-1Ps, UPM-1Ps, and 650-Ps) with Sennheiser 3000 wireless and Countryman podium mics, with the Crest XR-20 once again providing control.

Other companies involved included Sapsis Rigging, Boston Light and Sound, Prop Transport, Rose Brand, Hudson Scenic Studios, I. Weiss & Sons, and York Ladder. Look for the Tribeca Film Festival to return next year, where it will once again play a crucial role in the downtown recovery.