From the “Duff Beer” blimp overhead to the yellow carpet underfoot on the 400-foot VIP arrival walk, to Homer Simpsons’ giant hand grasping his trademark donut, the Westwood area of Los Angeles became the Simpsons’ fictional hometown of Springfield for 20th Century Fox’s The Simpsons Movie animated motion picture premiere.
Entertainment Lighting Services (ELS) of Sun Valley, CA, produced the event, giving a real world presence to the imaginary world of one of television’s most popular and longest running shows, the animated series The Simpsons. Entertainment Lighting Services rolled out the yellow carpet for this feature film release, making Simpsons fans feel right at home in the recreation of Springfield, right down to the 1,000 donuts passed out to guests and spectators.
The production involved the vast array of logistical elements common to a major motion picture premiere: rigging; creating an electrical infrastructure; lighting for press and television coverage; creating a VIP arrival line, press walk and interview stages; themed signage; crowd control; and other elements. The event required twin 1800 amp generators, a network of distribution hubs and more than two miles of power cable.
An extensive package of daylight color temperature PAR, spot, and fresnel lighting fixtures were put in place, in addition to broadcast video fluorescent lights, providing shadow-free lighting for press photographers and television crews.
Entertainment Lighting Services went the extra mile for The Simpsons Movie premiere, showering the crowd with blasts of yellow confetti, peppering the locale with images of America’s favorite animated family; and erecting an 84-foot-long grandstand for 400 cheering guests and a separate 25-feet grandstand for the premiere’s version of the Springfield High School Band (aka UCLA band members).
Towering above it all, huge 3D inflatable likenesses of Marge Simpsons’ famous blue coif and Homer Simpsons’ two-strand, comb-over head crowned the tops of the Fox Westwood Village and Bruin theaters, as if to say, “D’oh! Welcome to Springfield!”
Requiring their own power generation, back-up and electrical distribution systems and lit with 4,000 WATTS of “daylight” color-balanced illumination, Marge’s 57-foot-tall cyclone hair-do and Homer’s 33-foot-wide, 20-foot-tall pate were hard to miss.
“This was an especially fun event to produce,” says Entertainment Lighting Services project lead Mary Pat Cantrell. “But not without its challenges. With a creative product as well known as the Simpsons, we had to go to great lengths to capture the spirit of the original TV show and the movie. Since Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie can’t walk the VIP carpet, we had to create the feeling of their presence. I think the premiere stayed true to the Simpson franchise and brand. Donuts, anyone?”