Simply watching major events like the Academy Awards and Grammys is a passé experience. These days you can go backstage and rub elbows with the stars thanks to second-screen capabilities offered by forward-thinking organizations like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Of course, the Oscars are a notoriously hit-and-miss affair, with onstage entertainment reaching soaring highs and lows — sometimes in the same act. On February 24, the Oscars hit a home run by giving fans the kind of entertainment we crave: access to the stars. And a brush with fame is the perfect antidote for today’s celebrity-obsessed culture.
The Oscars Backstage Pass gave anyone with a computer screen a chance to tour the audience through the eyes of the camera operator, hang out with the news media and watch Anne Hathaway pose with her Oscar in the news room, and get a glimpse of George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Grant Heslov celebrating their Argo Best Picture award backstage. If you were patient, you could catch glimpses of stars having relatively unguarded moments — such as Jamie Foxx breaking into spontaneous dance while he awaited an official photo op.
One of my favorite backstage moments occurred when I noticed Quentin Tarantino, looking torn and frayed with his Best Original Screenplay Oscar, in obvious thrall of Jack Nicholson — then putting on his serious game face for his official photo op:
Meantime, in the audience, you could feel the tension on Anne Hathaway’s face before the Best Supporting Actress Award was named, and then the relief when she won:
The Backstage Pass offered five different screen choices, ranging from the audience shot to the host view. The clarity of the resolution was excellent, and even the somewhat muddy resolution of the backstage lounge added to the “you-are-there” charm (as was the case with the Grammy Awards behind-the-curtain access).
One by-product of having backstage access is that everyday fans like me can become content hustlers — capturing the experience and creating content to entertain each other on our social spaces. As I’ve done with events like the Grammy Awards, last night I took screenshots of the live feeds, enhanced many of my images with Instagram, and then shared my pictures with my friends on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Instagram (usually in near real-time).
It was undeniably fun to play the role of Oscars photographer from the comfort of my living room — and a genuine thrill to have the official Oscars Instagram account like one of my photos.
Savvier events are actively collaborating with fans by liking their photos and creating fan-generated photo highlights. Imagine how this experience might evolve — imagine the Oscars providing FaceTime access or Google Hangouts with their most loyal and media-savvy fans backstage?