MTV EMA Production A-list


The biggest names in music and the glamour of the MTV EMA keeps billions of TV viewers tuning in every year. But audiences don’t see the army of suppliers and production teams that make the whole event possible.

Stage and set designers, venue hosts, PR,sound engineers, dance choreographers…without whom artists would probably still be miming songs in their bedroom mirrors.  Red Carpet spoke to some old friends and new faces backstage about their involvement at the Belfast’s MTV Awards show.  Sat Bal (10 Nov 11)


The Caterer 

Kim Davenport, Eat Your Heart Out, Crew & Artist catering

How does the MTV EMA differ from other events?

The scale of the show....it’s huge!  And the camaraderie and energy backstage between MTV and the labels, artists and industry. 

When did you start work at the show and why did you want to do it?

We have provided catering for the MTV EMA for the last 15 years and joined in the summer of 2011.  It’s a fantastic show to be part of, there is always a great vibe backstage...we always make lots of friends!

How did this EMA differ from previous shows you’ve worked on?

The city of Belfast was so welcoming and supportive of the show. From the fans outside the venue every day to all of the posters and marketing all over the city. There was a real energy in the city - it felt like we were part of something really positive for the city.

Personal and working EMA highlights?    

From a working perspective, one of our 2011 MTV EMA moments was when our chef made a 6ft cake of the Titanic which we called HMS MTV!  He made it specially for the crew and they devoured it in minutes!

I’d love to say I had a show highlight, but I never get to see the show as we are always busily cooking for the artists in artist catering when the event is happening!


The Stage Designer 

Es Devlin – Production Designer

How did this show differ from your other events?                                                                

I usually design for opera and live concerts so television is not my normal medium.

When were you enlisted for the show and why did you want to do it?  

In May. I designed the stage for the 2010 EMA and I enjoyed collaborating with the team so much – they are fun people – which is why I wanted to do it again in 2011 

How was this EMA different from last year’s? 

Every year there is a new dynamic and we approach the design in a very different way. Last year the design was kinetic and hard-edged; this year it was static and very organic in form.

What challenges did you face?      

It’s always a challenge to second guess what each artist wants to achieve and they often decide quite last-minute!

Personal and working EMA highlights? 

I very much enjoyed collaborating with Lady Gaga’s creative team and her performance was, of course, one of the highlights of the show.  


The Choreographer

Aicha Mckenzie - Choreographic and Dancer services

How does the MTV EMA differ from other events?

It’s the most crazy! It involves working across different artists and different creatives to make sure that the dancers  work for a real cross-section of artists....eg. from Selena Gomez to LMFAO...!

When were you enlisted for the show and why did you want to do it?

We start enlisting dancers approximately one month before the show. The team is like family and we have been working on the show for many years. It is always creatively exciting – which can make it challenging ,but it’s also amazing - a show we wouldn’t miss for the world.

What were your personal EMA highlights?  

The human set of DJ decks that our choreographer Javier De Frutos conceived for Davie Guetta's performance. Oh and Justin Bieber giving me a ‘Hi-5’ backstage!!

Anything else..?        

I was actually a dancer for Take That’s performance on the first ever EMAs in 1994 in Berlin!  As a company we have been involved in the EMA ever since...it’s an amazing show and we love being part of it.


The Beautician

 Jo Tutchener Sharp, MD Beauty Seen PR & EMA spa creator

 How does the MTV EMA differ from other events?

The MTV EMAs are always a hub of excitement and glamour, the artists are always top end and the event is always super professional.  The event provides us with an excellent opportunity to gift our beauty products to the most influential artists of the moment.

How did the idea for the EMA Spa come about? 
                                                                                       Beauty Seen has created a spa backstage for the BRIT Awards for past six years which has always been a huge success, so three years ago I approached MTV to see if this concept would be of interest to them. Luckily it was! We came on board for the 2011 show in June, it takes that long to decide which beauty brands we want backstage this year, and to arrange the set up.

Why did you want to do it?   

It provides a unique product placement opportunity and one-on-one access to the artists rather than second guessing and sending products to an agent (and hoping the product actually reaches the artist).  I run a beauty PR agency and we are constantly looking for new ways of gaining exposure and word of mouth for our brands. The MTV EMAs provide huge kudos by association for our brands so it is the ideal event to link with.

How was this EMA different from previous shows?

This year there were a lot of male performers wanting treatments in the spa. We had a whole range of artists receive treatments including David Hasselhoff, Ashley Rickards, LMFAO and nearly all of the EMA artists came into the spa to pick up products. We provided Eurcerin facials, Decleor massages, Nanoblur applications (high definition skincare - blurs all imperfections ready for close-ups).

What were your personal EMA highlights?

Personal highlight for me was meeting the legend that is Brian May, but from a work perspective one particular highlight was hearing the girls on accreditation asking about the ‘high definition wonder cream’ that everyone was talking about. Highlight of the show wasLady Gaga’s performance, she is such a class act, a true professional and there is never a dull moment where Lady Gaga is concerned.


The Security Chief

Simon Battersby, Showsec, Security Director MTV EMA

 How does the MTV EMA differ from other events?

This is a complex operation in the sense there were multiple live venues, and that involved us liaising with the vast number of people and departments across MTV and Viacom to work with them to achieve their aims.  Security seems to interface with every part of this show, so Showsec tends to be across most elements of the awards.  Whilst MTV EMA’s is the client, the local venues, police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Belfast City Council are also involved parties; with the safety and enjoyment of all event professionals and members of the public always our primary consideration.

When were you enlisted for the show?                                                                           

We were enlisted well in advance and involved in meetings for months before the show to plan this very complex security operation

Why did you want to do it?   

We have worked with MTV EMA organisers for many years. There is a high level of mutual respect and understanding when it comes to delivering a highly professional event.

How did this EMA differ from previous shows?  

Working in Belfast was special. No two awards are the same as the city and its venues brings its own opportunities – but also its own enthusiasm to the event.  The level of professionalism of the Odyssey Arena management, the PSNI and Belfast City Council made this year’s event easier in some respects as they were thorough and had similar aims in terms of delivering a successful event. The fact they spoke the same language made it easier than non English speaking countries.

What were the big challenges?  

This is a particularly complex security operation requiring extensive engagement with numerous stakeholders. The fact that we have had over  1,000 accredited people on the main show alone gives an appreciation of the size of the production and number of VIP movements we have managed. The City Hall show was a particular challenge in terms of a main shopping street that had to be converted into an event space in just one hour. We also paid particular attention to the security around the personal appearances of Justin Bieber in and around Belfast which caused high levels of enthusiasm and excitement with his fans.

What were your personal EMA highlights?    

Showsec provided a 15-strong management consultancy team to oversee all elements of the security operations surrounding the 2011 MTV EMA Belfast, 6th Nov, 2011.

A ‘who’s who’ of pop music came to Belfast to celebrate the best of the past year and I was proud of the performance of every member of the Showsec management team and the contribution they made to deliver a TV show that achieved a global audience of 600million viewers.


The Riggers

Blackout’s Kevin, Oz and Steve

“The MTV EMA is always a spectacular show and a technically complicated one to achieve. This year we were working to a very tight build schedule, which the brilliant MTV EMA event managerMaggie Mouzakitis delivered with calm assurance – and there were a lot of (crazy) creative ideas for us to accommodate within the Odyssey Arena.

“There’s a great co-operation with other suppliers, in particular PRG and Set Square, who we liaised with extensively in the month prior to the show and the in-house rigging team once we were on site. The curved set was constructed brilliantly and went together very easily on site prior to being rigged to fit within centimetres of both sides of the Odyssey.”    Kevin Monks, Director, Blackout


The Venue Executive

Clare Tarbuck, Commercial Executive, Odyssey Arena, Belfast 

How did you convince MTV that Odyssey Arena was the best host for the EMA?                  

MTV always viewed the Odyssey Arena as the perfect venue for the awards but felt Belfast’s infrastructure was not ready. Our latest representation in the summer of 2010 as part of a highly impressive pitch led by Belfast City Council finally convinced MTV that Belfast would indeed be a fantastic host city for the 2011 MTV EMA. Planning really started in earnest from April when the event was formally announced.

How did the planning and logistics involved in delivering the MTV EMA at Odyssey Arena compare with other large-scale events that the venue's hosted? 

The short answer is that the MTV experience was exceptional. The Odyssey Arena is firmly established as a key venue on major world tours. Most touring productions are only with us for 24 hrs but the MTV production a seven-day build period. Logistically, everything was on such a massive scale; A double-deck structure was built to accommodate all of the additional dressing rooms, a local warehouse was converted to service the production crew and at its peak was serving 1,000 meals per day. Externally the site car parks were commandeered for VIP coaches and roads were closed to allow the smooth transportation of performers and celebrities.  We also had to liaise more closely than ever with council and statutory bodies as MTV ran simultaneous events across the city.

We enjoyed watching the show from the Sky Box VIP suite. Are the suites a recent addition to the venue?

VIP suites at Odyssey Arena offer the ultimate hospitality experience. We provide 24 luxury corporate hospitality suites which are situated to ensure superb views of the show. Each suite has full hospitality service, private bar and waiter service.

The Arena recently underwent a £1.75m refurbishment which incorporated the luxury corporate hospitality suites and a brand new 64-seater West Suite Lounge. The West Lounge is used by companies wanting to entertain business associates and friends and offers the perfect opportunity for networking.

What was the biggest challenge facing you and venue staff - and how could you have made things better, with hindsight?

The biggest challenge was obviously adapting our operation to match the scale of the event and although I‘m sure in hindsight there are minor changes we would make there is certainly nothing of any real note. Everything went to plan on the night and we truly feel that a major part of that was the relationship we built with the MTV family.

Your personal EMA show highlights?                                                                                         

I was lucky enough to see some of the show. A big cheer came from me when Selena Gomezopened the show and said “We are live from Odyssey Arena, Belfast!” - the world was watching and it was the perfect publicity for the venue. Lady Gaga was a personal favourite of mine, her performance was outstanding.

Give us a sense of the 'before and after' of what the EMA has done for the Odyssey Arena in particular and for Belfast generally?

The impact of the EMA for Odyssey Arena and Belfast and the legacy it has left cannot be underestimated. The event brought the venue and the city to a global audience of millions. Odyssey Arena was on the front pages of numerous daily newspapers, internet sites, blogs and forums. We  had a host of artistes, their managers, agents and promoters here to witness the ability of the Arena to handle such a prestigious event.

In terms of Belfast generally, from a troubled not-too-distant past, our vibrant and energetic wee city has undergone a major transition in previous years and MTV has allowed us to grab the world’s media spotlight and focus it on showcasing the best of what Belfast has to offer.


MTV EMA 2011 Suppliers also included:

Stageco, MAC cosmetics, PRG, Gurdip Mahal (Lighting Design), Set Square.


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