What is hip? Just about anything from L.A.-based Event Eleven. Founded in 1997 by Tony Schubert, the company now produces both big corporate bashes and exclusive weddings, branded environments for Estee Lauder and MTV, and interior design for Hollywood hot spots including nightclub Les Deux and restaurant Ketchup. In the works: a coffee-table book chronicling the most prestigious events in the world. Here, we catch up with one of the busiest men in special events.
SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: You have a fascinating background: a degree in broadcast journalism, a college scholarship in volleyball, a career in acting and modeling, and a stint promoting nightclubs. How does it all add up to special events?
TONY SCHUBERT: All of the things you mention were very big parts of my life in my late teens to early '20s, but none of it adds up to producing events except for maybe the club world. It really comes down to personality and understanding clients' needs. I am so fortunate to love what I do. Each project presents new challenges and new people to interact with and, most importantly, satisfying clients and helping them reach their objectives with the event they hire us for.
SPECIAL EVENTS: You just added a second office in Miami — why?
SCHUBERT: I felt that Miami is an important market to be in. With Fashion Week, the Wine & Food Festival, Art Basel and, of course, Super Bowl returning in two years, it made a lot of sense for us.
SPECIAL EVENTS: You had so much going on during this year's Super Bowl festivities in January in Arizona — the Direct TV Celebrity Beach Bash, the Style Villa, Pontiac Garage, the ESPN “Next” Event and the Victoria's Secret party. When did planning start? How did you staff all these events?
SCHUBERT: My entire team on both coasts worked on all the events. I divided up each event and assigned a producer to each; some events had two. We usually start planning with ESPN as it's one of the largest. In April, we fly into the market and chose our location very early on. Then all the other events follow. All in all, we spent about nine months of planning with all the events we did. Alongside our core team, we flew in freelancers from Florida and New York to production-manage the larger events. Along with office Pas, accountants, stage managers and producers, our overall team was close to 40 for the two weeks.
SPECIAL EVENTS: You've run an event company now for just over 10 years. How is the world of special events today different from when you started?
SCHUBERT: When I started out — just like any other new company — budgets were small, and you're not sure where to solicit new business or how to get those clients. But the biggest hurdle was winning trust with major corporate and entertainment clients. Once you have successfully produced a major event in this town — or any other, for that matter — word gets out, and it's all downhill from there. I am learning to delegate much more these days, a word I didn't know the meaning of for the first six years. My staff is amazing, and I trust them implicitly.
SPECIAL EVENTS: How is 2008 shaping up for your business?
SCHUBERT: It's off to a great start, especially with the writers' strike over. We have really great events on the books for spring/summer and are looking forward to a great year.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Special events are splashed all over magazines and TV shows these days; is this good or bad for business?
SCHUBERT: The magazine coverage is always great — it's how we producers ever get any credit for what we do. I'm waiting for a TV show that covers the producer in his element, where it documents the real magic versus trying to come up with dramatic things that make the planner look like he's not doing his job. Shows like “Top This Party” and others do not portray producers in a great light.
SPECIAL EVENTS: What gets you inspired — magazines? Travel?
SCHUBERT: I look at magazines all the time and, yes, travel. And hotels — believe it or not — inspire me for things like furniture and architecture. Fashion plays a big part as well.
SPECIAL EVENTS: What are some of the signature elements of an Event Eleven production?
SCHUBERT: We spend the most time on what the event will look like from a decor and lighting perspective. We try to design rooms that incorporate an in-terior design for each, using wallpaper or furnishings that you would not see at a typical event. We keep up on all things technical and stay on the cutting-edge of design to make sure our events are current.
Event Eleven 5542 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90016; 323/549-9980; www.eventeleven.com