Gasparilla International Film Festival - Tampa Sees Stars
Every March for the past four years, the Gasparilla International Film festival in Tampa, Florida, has been a gathering spot for producers, directors, actors and film buffs from all walks of life.
In addition to screenings of new and notable films, guests enjoy a variety of events including an opening night gala and after-party, and a blow-it-out closing night bash. This year, Monica Varner of Elan Event Studio in Tampa orchestrated all the events.
A Memorable Night, a Historic Site
A VIP reception for 500 guests opened the festivities at the historic Tampa Theatre, a 1920s-era movie “palace” that boasts a Mediterranean courtyard with old world statuary, flowers and gargoyles and a ceiling complete with nighttime sky, twinkling stars and floating clouds. “We really didn’t need to do anything to the venue,” said Varner. “It’s gorgeous just as it is.” Ten area restaurants were tapped to provide a variety of local flavors for the guests, who moved from the lobby into the theatre when it was time to screen the film of the evening.
Then, after a brief awards ceremony, the group exited the building to the sounds of a live, local band positioned outside the front doors and trooped a block down the street to the after-party at a sushi bar, where MMD Events provided the décor, including lush floral arrangements.
Deep black magic roses stand out against a modern white trophy silhouette vase accented with slinky sequins.
Dark Clouds Move In
All of this was a warm-up for the closing night bash, which was to take place on the rooftop of a parking garage in trendy Hyde Park Village. “We’d been planning this for six months,” Varner said. “We had all the permits, had had the fire marshal out at least twice, had 10 big cabanas lined up along with a big stage.”
And, she’d been following the weather forecast, which “…didn’t look good,” Varner said. “Lightning, heavy winds and rain were forecast for the entire day. We held off as long as we could, but ultimately decided we had to go to Plan B indoors.”
She and her team had less than two days to transform an empty storefront in Hyde Park into a swinging 60s setting for their “In the Sky with Diamonds” theme. And that meant that they had to deal with the space’s periwinkle blue walls.
“We had to come up with a whole new floor plan for a much smaller space. We had to deal with the blue walls, so I raced to the linen supplier and worked with them to work more purple into the color scheme. We came up with a new lighting plan and new furniture plan,” Varner explains.
The entire day of the event, torrential rains hammered the city and the wind gusts howled as Varner and her team reworked the entire venue into a funky, hip setting for the party-goers. Go-go dancers were moved onto impromptu dancing platforms around the room, and models were positioned behind the bar for extra drama. A crystal ball juggler mesmerized the guests as they entered the party.
“We had 400-500 people packed into the space and they loved it. Governor Charlie Crist was even there, to show his support of the film industry in Florida,” Varner said. “In the end, everything worked out great—a perfect example of how to transition to Plan B.”
Photos courtesy of Limelight Photography
Planner: Élan Event Studio www.ElanEventStudio.com
Flowers, draping, furniture, lighting: MMD Events www.mmdevents.com
Linens: Linens by the Sea www.linensbythesea.com
Chiavari chairs, cocktail tables: Signature Event Rentals www.signatureeventstampa.com
Bartenders: U Dream Events www.udreamevents.com
Catering Main Food: Good Food Catering www.goodfoodtampa.com
Atmosphere entertainment: Jumpin Bumpin www.jumpinbumpin.com
Catering desserts: Events by Amore www.Eventsbyamore.com
Vodka: Diamond Vodka
DJ: DJ Fresh www.djfreshevents.com
Wine & Bubbly: Barefoot
Beer: Stella Artios
Video: Tampa Wonderworks www.TampaWonderworks.com
Primary photographer: Limelight Photography www.stepintothelimelight.com
Additional photographer: CSE Photography www.csephotography.com