It's 4:00pm on January 23rd, 2015. In 30 minutes, Mike, Andre, and I are going to walk from our hotel out into the chilly Chicago air to the venue where "Lex's Haunted Ball" is going be held. In 30 minutes, I'm going to meet Lex.
A text from my good friend (or "mate", for the Englishmen) Simon asks, "Are you nervous?" And...no. No, I didn't feel nervous yet. Because, even though it was minutes from happening, I still didn't feel like I was going to meet Lex.
We get all dressed up. We leave the hotel. We walk down the road. We cross the street. We enter the doors to the venue.
The host asks us if we're there for dinner, or for the event, which didn't officially start for another two and a half hours. I tell him we're there for the event. He points to the room it's going to be held in, and says that they're setting up now. I ask if it's all right if we go in and set up as well.
As he says yes, I hear Lex's voice, amplified over P.A. speakers, doing a sound check.
Ah, there it is. Now I'm nervous. Rock 'n roll.
If there are any Lexbots out there wondering what Lex is like in person, don't. She's exactly the person you see in her videos: Infectiously positive, down-to-Earth, selfless, kind, hilarious, very generous, and underneath it all, a strong sense of determination and self-confidence. From the moment you meet, she makes you feel like she's been your friend since always.
I wasn't sure how the event was going to play out, or what exactly Lex had planned. So I tried to plan as much as possible for the most basic type of set-up I could think of.
So I asked myself, "Well, what is a standard simple setup for a standard, simple scene?"
And like an insane person, I responded to myself, "Good question, Colin. I think that would be a wide master shot, punching in with close-ups and cutaways."
So that's what we did. We had one camera on a tripod with a wide 20mm prime lens, then we had two roaming cameras on shoulder rigs, both with 24-70mm lenses. One master, two "close-ups".
A line formed outside the doors. When guests entered, they would go and get their photo with Lex before heading off to deposit raffle tickets, mingle with other Lexbots, etc.
Andre and I were designated photographers while Mike wandered around and grabbed footage of people coming in.
Andre shot on Lex's digital camera so she could take the photos home with her that night, while I shot on our own Canon 6D. (You can find those photos here)
I enjoyed seeing the types of fans MadeULook has. Since "being yourself" is a constant theme encouraged in Lex's videos, it was so refreshing to see so many people so comfortable being themselves. Everyone was kind. Everyone was unique.
Lex wouldn't just get her picture with guests entering the event. She would talk to each one individually, welcoming them to the party, or recognizing them from her social media pages. After the photo, she would tell them to go play the raffle, mingle, have some food, and she'd catch up with them later.
And she did. She made an effort to see every single person in attendance. I don't think anyone left there that night and felt like Lex didn't make time for them. And that is incredible.
The sponsors for the event included Graftobian Make-Up Co, NYX Cosmetics, NuMe Professional Styling Products, BH Cosmetics, Kosart Effects Studios, Living Royal, Sexy Hair, Eva NYC, and Lunatick Cosmetic Labs LLC. A raffle was held for lucky attendees to win giveaways from these companies.
I had an idea for the tone I wanted to convey for the video long before we left for Chicago. I wanted the tone to evoke almost a nostalgic feeling, even though the events that the video was going to celebrate would be current.
The choice of music has a LOT to do with that. The song I used was entitled "Particle Flow" by LIGHTS & MOTION, and I think it was a perfect fit for the type of video I wanted to make.
The beginning of the video would be footage of Lex & Co. setting up for her party. When the song kicks in is when the party would kick in as well.
Then the song has kind of soft breakdown in the middle. This is where I wanted Lex to speak up about not just the party, but about her thoughts and feelings on her achievement.
I also had the idea to intercut her speech with footage from her much earlier videos, where she talks about why she started, not only to further enforce the themes she's always laying into her videos, but also to show how far she's come while still staying the same. It all leads to a climax of a majority of her makeup looks flashing by, one after the other, showing a progression of how her skill and quality has improved over the years.
All in all, I'm very happy with the way the video turned out (aside from the date being a year earlier...). I'm not saying the video is the best it could possibly be, but I do think that it's the best that I could make it, and I feel good about that. I hope all the fans that attended can view the video as a great visual memory for a great night. And I hope that all the fans that didn't attend can watch the video and maybe get a feel for what it was like to be there.
So if you're not following Lex yet, do it. Subscribe to her. Like her. Follow her. Tweet her. She has a social media footprint that make MakeDo Entertainment look like MakeDo Productions. (Now that was a good joke. For the fan(s).)
And to Lex, if you're reading this: Thank you so much for this opportunity. If MakeDo Entertainment gets anywhere this year (fingers crossed), it is in no small part from the leg up that you've given us. But this was more than just getting our name out there. I can now say that I was lucky enough to meet one of the most genuine, unique, extraordinary, special individuals out there, and that alone was worth the trip. Congratulations on your fantastic achievement, we're all so proud of how far you've come. (By "we", I mean "me", sitting by myself, writing this in a room alone.) But I think I speak for everyone when I say we're very excited to see what the future brings for you. You're the best.
P.S. Hey, Gram! Gram!!! And Mama Lex! If you guys are reading this, thank you, too! I love you guys! You're adorable. :)