If you think it’s difficult planning a party, try recreating and modernizing some of the greatest parties in history.
That was the challenge for Philip Day, owner and creative director at LA-based Edge West Productions, and his team as they set to work on Party Like…, a three-part mini-series premiering tonight (February 9) on National Geographic Channel in the U.S.
“We’ve all heard of epic battles, but rarely have we heard about the grand celebrations,” says Day, who exec produced the mini-series.
Day decided that Party Like… needed to have a modern element to it, so recreations of grand parties held by emperors and queens are combined with modern day party planners who are in the midst of creating an epic party inspired by the past.
In the “Party Like a Roman Emperor” episode, Dylan Marer – a Hollywood party planner – has been tasked with creating the hottest party at the the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. Marer chooses to have a Roman theme for the party, which ties into the story of Roman Emperor Elagabalus, who threw outrageous parties in 202 AD.
Other episodes partner a masquerade party at the Playboy Mansion with Marie Antoinette’s masquerade parties at the Paris Opera, and the current Vienesse Opera Ball with the 1897 version at the Waldorf Astoria.
The recreations that are at the center of each episode use CGI and “trickery” to make the 60 extras in period costumes, wigs and make-up look like 600 people. “It was a very lavish production,” says Day. “We got amazing value for our money. Most production companies would say this is a million per episode and we were looking in the US$300,000 [range], so I still have no idea how we did it, frankly.”
For a series like this, which had its challenges in terms of personnel and money, the biggest hurdle was time. “The worst of it [was] the hours that needed to be put in to make it happen,” Day explains.
The Edge West crew opted to film the series in Los Angeles, instead of shooting in Romania, which was a cheaper option, because Day wanted to work with the crew he knew in LA. “Romania had so many locations that were a lot cheaper, but I decided to look at the problems of overtime and working with a studio and thought, ‘I’m going to be bankrupt within a week of starting this project,’” he says. “We made the decision to stay in LA which, thank God, was the best decision.”
Ahead of its U.S. launch, the series has international premiere dates, with NGC HD Poland airing Party Like… on February 13, and NGC HD Germany debuting the series on February 17. And if the three-part series is a hit on National Geographic Channel in the U.S., Day already has 20 other episodes mapped out.
“It’s got an interesting sex appeal and historically, it’s an interesting journey,” he says.
Other projects on Edge West’s slate include an upcoming program with Discovery about secret societies, and a series on mysterious hijacker-parachutist D.B Cooper for National Geographic.