©2012, DVCPRO50, COLOUR, 26 MINS
In a backwater paddock at one of the worlds richest horse races, the Melbourne Cup, lies a fortress of sponsor marquees known as the “Birdcage”. Idealised as a world of luxury and privilege, for the first time an independent film crew has gained exclusive and unprecedented access and reveals the marketing machine that powers these temporary palaces of illusion.
Through Judy Romano, a charismatic and iron-willed event manager, we are drawn into a world of publicists, designers, corporates and celebrities and follow her army from the planning stages right through the event as they try to maintain Emirates Airline’s position as the most publicised and envied party in the Birdcage. But her rivals have been busy and this year the challenge will be greater than ever. While Judy and the troops set about transforming their marquee into a lavish hunting lodge, complete with hard walls, a faux fireplace and fully-plumbed porcelain toilets, rivals like champagne maker Moet have enlisted a famous architect and cosmetics giant L’Oreal is creating a lipstick inspired mini-mansion.
Enter the marquee on Melbourne Cup Day as the rich and famous rub shoulders with key clients and more than fifty caterers, cleaners, security guards and hairdressers work overtime to pamper their guests and wow the media.
Visit rival marquees unleashing their own publicity weapons as the Birdcage becomes a spectacular celebration of excess that is both compelling and repulsive, an insular fantasy land where most won’t even see a horse.
During the event, candid interviews with key publicists and event managers reveal the web of planning and control behind an event that is bankrolled by marketing budgets.
Original, insightful and irreverent, it goes beyond the seemingly frivolous to examine how our deepest desires and aspirations are manipulated by the companies in the business of selling luxury.