Watching the Oscars Sunday night, it occurred to me that the meetings industry played a big part in the film nominees (and winners!) this year. In “Spotlight,” “The Revenant,” “The Big Short” and “Steve Jobs,” conferences and events in the association, faith-based, corporate and incentive segments were the scene-stealers of 2016.
Winning Best Original Screenplay and top honors as Best Picture, “Spotlight” took a moment to (ahem) spotlight a faith-based, black-tie fundraising gala in Boston—the Catholic Charities Gala. In the scene, then-Boston Globe Editor-in-Chief Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) arrives to the event’s registration desk and the staff can’t find his name on the list. (I’m sure the planner wasn’t happy to discover this gaffe.) While the volunteer feverishly flips through lists, Peter Conley (Paul Guilfoyle), who is a top-ranking associate of the Roman Catholic Church, tells the woman behind the desk it’s OK and escorts Baron into the event. Baron meets up with Globe editor Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton) at a high-top table dressed in a beautiful linen, and they enjoy a lovely F&B selection and scope out the high-profile guest list.
Lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Inarritu were big winners, taking home Best Actor and Best Director, respectively. But wasn’t the film about a gorgeous incentive travel program gone terribly wrong? Montana and South Dakota—the film’s backdrops—until now have served as idyllic settings for incentive travel. Maybe the movie’s incentive planner should have looked into Montana’s The Resort at Paws Up or Triple Creek Ranch?
“The Big Short”
Nominated for Best Picture and Best Directing, among other Academy Awards, “The Big Short” took home the little gold statue for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). But the American Securitization Forum in Las Vegas may have come out on top. In the film, cranky Mark Baum (Steve Carell) attends the forum with his team(even sporting lanyards around their neck) and points out that the small, once-sleepy conference is now packed with securitization industry professionals because of Wall Street’s mortgage securities boom.
Although that means attendance is up, every planner’s nightmare happens about an hour and a half into the movie. During an ASF general session led by a mortgage industry bigwig, Baum raises his hand and asks the keynote speaker whether he knows if the entire housing market is about to collapse. Baum disrupts the program, and then moments later takes a phone call and walks out of the ballroomSteve Jobs”
While Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet were up for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Supporting Role, respectively, the
movie’s real stars were its product launches—the only three settings in the film. Corporate meeting professionals know the timing and orchestration of high-profile launches are stressful enough without the Macintosh computer deciding not to say hello on the day of the event or Jobs (Fassbender) wanting to find a different shirt at the last minute backstage. Even the venue choices felt real to planners: The first scene was shot in Flint Center for the Performing Arts in Cupertino, California, the same location as the actual Macintosh launch in 1984. The second setting—the NeXT computer launch—was filmed in San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House. And finally, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco is the venue for the 1998 iMac launch. (I can only wonder if the film has produced recent site visits.)