Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be on the red carpet at the Oscars?
A few lucky fans get that opportunity each year through our Oscar Fan Experience, so we thought we’d find out what one of them learned from being in last year’s bleachers.
Marya Gates, a passionate film buff with a Masters in screenwriting, is all over online via Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and her site Cinema Fanatic, where she clearly lives up to that name. Typically on Oscar Sunday she liveblogs the festivities to her equally voracious readers, but when she accepted her invite to sit mere feet from many of her favorite filmmakers, her liveblogging had to take a hiatus.
Instead of sitting across from an LCD TV, Marya was escorted to the front row of the bleachers right at the far corner turn where the stars took turns chatting it up with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. Not only was she able to scope out the actors, actresses, and directors from close range, but many of her friends and family spotted her in the background.
Being so close "made catcalling celebs ('Wong Kar-Wai, we looooooove you!') that much easier," Marya said.
Here’s her advice for anybody fortunate enough to score one of the best seats in the house on this year’s red carpet...
1. What You’re Wearing Matters Just As Much As What The Stars Are Wearing
"I chose a pink blazer because I love it when celebrities on the red carpet make bold color choices," she explained. "I always think it’s boring when attendees wear black or neutral colors. So if I was going to go to the Oscars, I was going to wear as bright a color as I could."
Did she stand out on the screen?
"I also have platinum hair which I think helped people find me when I was on TV. The Academy even posted a picture of me on their Instagram and Facebook, and several people I don’t know (but who know me from my various Internet activities) recognized me and got excited; that was pretty cool," she said.
Marya did have a clothing regret though. Take note!
"The pink blazer I wore was obviously a good choice for visibility purposes, but in thinking about it now, the jumper I chose was not that great of an idea," she admitted. "I had warm tights on as well and the combo of those two things did not make going to the restroom very easy."
2. Choose Your Bathroom Breaks Wisely
"I actually almost didn't get to go to the bathroom," Marya told us.
"Portia de Rossi [the actress and wife of Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres] was standing in the wings waiting to come out and be interviewed by Robin Roberts, and her guard or whatever wasn't going to let me through. I stood there for a few minutes before Portia noticed and told the guy to let me go. She'll forever be good in my book for that. Also I got to see her dress up close, and I can confirm that it was insanely fabulous."
However, the delay nearly made her miss her chance to shout hi to Wong Kar-Wai. "But I got back in time to yell how much I love him, and he tipped his sunglasses at me. It was magical," she said.
3. Choose The Right Companion
"When I found out I was going to get to go to the Oscars Fan Experience, the very first thought I had was to text my friend Kristen Sales," Marya said. "Kristen was the only person I knew who would have seen all the nominated films and would enjoy catcalling Oscar-nominated celebs. We actually met online many years back over our love of film and used to watch movies together over the Internet, and we met for real when I came to L.A. for the TCM Film Festival a few years ago.
"We made a video the night before we went to the Oscars to announce it to our followers on Tumblr , and I made her keep it a surprise until then. It was really fun," Marya said.
4. Plan On Being Surprised
One thing people don't realize, Marya said, is all the work that goes into setting up the red carpet, getting all the press where they need to go, and magically turning the everyday stretch of Hollywood Blvd. into the sparkling landscape of glamour the world sees on TV.
"It was also interesting to see all the people painting and setting up the walls and carpet so that it would look good for the pictures," she said. "We got to see several parts of the red carpet get put together - from power drilling, to painting, etc. We kept cheering them on, and I think that helped them keep going since it was raining a lot on them.
"There was one person whose entire job was vacuuming all the water up from the red carpet," she said. "They were not having fun! But we cheered and cheered and they kept on keeping on."
And for everyone who saw the telecast, the rain stopped right on cue, minutes before the red carpet opened.
5. Compliments Will Get You Noticed
"I'm not really sure what Kristen shouted at [Danish actor] Mads Mikkelsen [from the Oscar-nominated film The Hunt] that made him blush, but it must have been something pretty good," Marya said. "She also shouted to [producer] Megan Ellison [Her, Zero Dark Thirty, American Hustle] that she was one of the best things to happen to filmmaking, and I think Megan was shocked that anyone knew who she was.
"I was having too much fun taking photos of all the celebs to do much talking. I also tweeted a lot about the things Kristen was doing. She lives in the moment, I just document it," Marya said.
"Towards the end of the night Kristen got Guillermo from The Jimmy Kimmel Show to send her a shot of booze," she said. Apparently the late-night star's diminutive sidekick was offering liquor shots to the stars on the red carpet.
"That was a great way to end the red carpet experience and transition into watching the show across the street at the El Capitan," she said.
You still have time to enter to win a spot in the bleachers. But hurry: the deadline to enter is Sunday at 5pm PT.