IN HOLLYWOOD, THE MAXIM GOES, YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST PICTURE. Samantha Sackler, who has produced dozens of movie premieres, says the same is true for event planners: You’re only as good as your last bash. These days, planning a movie premiere is “much like designing a skyscraper,” says Sackler; events have grown so ambitious that overlooking even the most minor element can topple the whole enterprise.
It’s Sackler’s attention to detail, as well as her personal touch, that has landed her Culver City-based Samantha Sackler Productions in the top tier of Hollywood event producers. She closed down a street in Beverly Hills and turned it into a carpeted, low-lit outdoor lounge with a custom-draped perimeter for the Prisoners premiere party. For The Incredible Burt Wonderstone party, she transformed the Hollywood & Highland’s Ray Dolby Ballroom into a glitzy Las Vegasstyle showroom.
And she was the mastermind behind the art deco-themed The Great Gatsby premiere at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Working closely with director Baz Luhrmann, Sackler and her bicoastal team recreated the feel of Gatsby’s over-the-top lifestyle with thousands of hand-painted butterflies suspended from the ballroom’s ceiling and an eight-tiered tower holding coupes of Moët & Chandon.
Midway through the party, during a choreographed Champagne parade, the room went from formal ballroom to speak-easy in three minutes, as lighting and backdrops were switched and linens removed to reveal bourbon barrels underneath. When the lights came up, the room was low-lit red. A major thrill for Sackler: Martha Stewart was there and blogged about it.
A former restaurant and nightclub publicist, Sackler began producing events full time in 1996, and a decade after that she started designing lounge-style furniture through her company, designer8* Event Furniture Rental. The company now has a 70,000-square-foot warehouse in downtown L.A. and is a prime resource for functional stylized lounge furnishings. Sackler counts almost every major Los Angeles event producer among her clients. And why not? When it comes to producing an A-list event, getting the best, most affordable resources trumps everything else.