Premieres to Die For

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A Look Back at the True Blood Season Premieres

Blood, vampires, and a dash of playfulness – all perfect ingredients for the annual HBO True Blood premiere parties. This month, as the final season closes in like a coffin closing a vampire off from the sunlight, we look back at the True Blood premieres designed by Billy Butchkavitz.

Each year from the beginning, Butchkavitz has worked with the Los Angeles lighting designer, Images by Lighting, to create a look that relies heavily on lighting. Through all the events there is a common – ahem – vein – that runs through them. The color red, naturally, a gobo projection of the logo often repeated several times, often a central tree and cemetery scene, some fun interactive element with the guests and, of course, given that the designer is a Butchkavitz, a wicked sense of style. While many elements stay the same, Butchkavitz works closely with HBO staff to ensure the event design captures the true essence of the upcoming season.

And while vampires may live forever, cable shows do not. We show our last respects with a photo essay of the premieres (with apologies to 2009 for which photos are not available). We will say goodbye and fangs for the memories, but we know deep down, that there is  no keeping a good vampire (or vampire show) down.


Our retrospective begins at a unique venue — the rooftop of the Arc Light parking structure in Hollywood. Nothing like starting out with a challenge. Butchkavitz designed a central tree (which would appear in future premieres) surrounded by a small graveyard. With no rigging points from which to hang lighting equipment, Images got creative by using the tree and standing lights. Gobos in monochromatic tones added texture to the lighting design, a feature that would weave throughout these events.

True Blood Premiere


In 2010, Butchkavitz added a very realistic backdrop to the premiere held at Boulevard 3. To light it, carefully making sure no seams would show, Images used uplights to fill in creases and create dimension. Gobos added texture to the ballroom’s surfaces and patio area. Smaller areas of the venue were detailed with candles and projections from the show.

 True Blood Premiere

True Blood Premiere

True Blood Premiere


Overall, Butchkavitz’s design gravitated towards the monochromatic, but Images learned quickly that being emerged in one color presents a challenge — the color becomes “neutral” and the eye and mind no longer recognize it. To avoid this and keep the event vibrant, Images used accent colors. The venue, the Hollywood Athletic Club (formerly the Social Hollywood Athletic Club), was lighted mainly red in the foyer with an added touch of candlelight for accent. The color scheme in the main room was opposite — a wall of candles was the main design elements and red was the accent color on the pillows. Centerpieces were a nod to the Southern locale of the show and its town, Bon Temps, Louisiana.

True Blood Premiere

True Blood Premiere


The premiere at Lure Hollywood Nightclub was one of the darkest years, both in lighting and design. The effect of blood dripping from the walls was thanks to digital video.

True Blood Premiere
True Blood Premiere
Back at the Hollywood Athletic Club once again, the looks reverted back to all red in 2013. The addition of ethereal creatures in hanging “coffins” added a very surreal touch.
True Blood Premiere
True Blood Premiere


Events designed by Butchkavitz always begin and end with texture, which Images plays off of with it’s lighting design. Held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the design once again featured a central tree. Around it, Images blanketed the area with textured lighting. Coupled with the texture used in the upholstery, furniture, and pillows, the space took on an elegant, old-world feeling. Once again, a scenic backdrop was used. This time, Butchkavitz used one of a Louisiana swamp, which was lighted for a daylight effect. The addition of Astroturf grass truly transformed the space into a Southern setting.

True Blood Premiere

True Blood Premiere

True Blood RIP 2008 – 2014

The Hollywood crowd will no doubt miss these inspired, creative premieres. However, they can rest easy knowing that in Hollywood, nothing lasts forever, especially a popular vampire franchise. True Blood, at the very least, will live on forever in syndication!


eNews August 2014

Originally posted by Images By Lighting


About the author : Liese Gardner

Liese Gardner

Liese Gardner is a marketing expert working with top brands and individuals in the special events industry since 1984. Among her current clients, she consults with Event Solutions as content curator for its blog and conference. She also writes about marketing and inspiration -- the fuel that drives us -- on her own blog,

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