What Goes On Behind The Scenes At The Oscars

PHOTO: Nate Sanders displays the collection of Oscar statuettes that his auction company will sell online to the highest bidder in this Feb. 24, 2012, file photo.
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On Sunday, Oscars Director Hamish Hamilton is going to walk the red carpet at the 86th Academy Awards.

But it's not to be photographed or interviewed by the media, or even to mingle with the likes of Brad Pitt and host Ellen Degeneres, yet just to "take it all in."

The 46-year-old is going to ask himself, "I'm directing the Oscars, how did this happen?"

Well, Hamilton got to this point after an almost 8-month process that started when Oscars producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron called him last summer to let him know he got the gig.

"From summer on, the Oscars is very much in your mind," Hamilton told ABC News. "You're formulating ideas, you are in constant conversation and meetings [in New York, Los Angeles], handling thousands of calls in London, [where I live]."

"Things go wrong on live TV all the time."

This is the second time Hamilton is directing the biggest night in Hollywood. He directed 2010's show with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin hosting.

"The director's job on the Oscars is pretty unique," he said. "This show, you have absolutely no idea what names are going to be on the envelopes. You've got 24 awards. There's a hundred different things that can happen at minimum."

Hamilton said the Oscars "narrative" includes the winners and the losers, the joy and the despair, the friendships and rivalries.

"The eyes of the world are literally upon you. It's a show like no other," he said.

As the director, Hamilton's basically the "final backstop."

"Things go wrong on live TV all the time," he admitted. "If you've got an amazing performer out on the stage and they're killing it, you want to be killing it for them. You don't want them to leave stage, have brought the house down and television viewers are like "Oh really, did that happen? I didn't get that from that shot."

Timeline for planning the show

For months before March 2, Hamilton said there is an exchange of "videos, photos, drawings, sketches, scripts, set diagrams and plans" between those putting the event together.

"There's a marriage of the creative, the staging, the technical, the lighting, the cameras, that has to be put together in pre-production," he said.

A couple weeks before the show, everyone starts to come together at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre.

"You see the physical representation of many of the things you've been talking about," Hamilton said. "The set is there, the lighting is going up, the dressing rooms are getting built, the scripts are getting written and the music is getting composed."

PHOTO: Dancers try out at the 82nd Academy Awards - Behind The Scenes - Dance Auditions held at Center Staging in this Jan. 22, 2010, file photo.
Michael Tran/Getty Images
PHOTO: Dancers try out at the 82nd Academy Awards - Behind The Scenes - Dance Auditions held at Center Staging in this Jan. 22, 2010, file photo.

Then the week before the show, people start to take the stage for rehearsals. The show as a whole starts to get assessed and the producers can still pass down notes to make sure their vision is becoming reality.

"Some things need to be tweaked, but generally everything is looking and sounding great," he said.

The night of the show

"It's both calm and crazy," Hamilton stresses. "If you've never been backstage at one of these shows, you would walk in and your head would explode."

Hamilton said that if you put on a pair of the stage manager's headphones backstage, you would be privy to a massive amount of information that's being exchanged every second!

"You have a few thousand people working on the show," he said. "You've got a number of kind of heads of departments in a way, a number of people on headsets talking. It's a system of many many pyramids, many many triangles. On the day, I'm probably top of the big triangle."

He continued, "Below my triangle is a million and one triangles and they are all talking. You've got the lighting triangle, the design triangle, the stage management triangle, the talent triangle. You've got heads of departments and subheads and subheads and all this information is going up and down and across and sideways. Everyone basically reacts in real times to decisions and stresses."

Hamilton said one comment or joke onstage can trigger 300 people that need to spring into action.

"If somebody goes up and cracks a joke about person X, I need to get a camera to X, get a microphone there, and get light there," he said. "Ellen [DeGeneres] and her writers have to write a joke. The prompt guys need to write the joke, it's needs to be spell-checked, bam bam bam. It all happens like that."

PHOTO: Rick Gamboa and his coworker patch small holes in a plastic roof that will protect OSCARs red carpet from the rain during the preparations for the upcoming 86th Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2014.
Joe Klamr/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: Rick Gamboa and his coworker patch small holes in a plastic roof that will protect OSCAR's red carpet from the rain during the preparations for the upcoming 86th Academy Awards on Feb. 24, 2014.

And that's just a small comment.

"If something big happens, woah! Can you imagine if someone jumps up on the stage?"

One joke onstage can trigger 300 people that need to spring into action

But while it may be chaos behind the curtain, it's control chaos, Hamilton said.

"There is no flailing around, there are no people running around like crazy, it's very focused and very controlled," he said. "Everybody has a plan. Even when things go wrong, there are plans afoot."

With all this craziness, Hamilton said somehow he will still find the time to enjoy the fact he's directing one of the biggest events in Hollywood.

"In the past, I would get so focused and so in it that I would forget what I was doing," he said. "Now, I try almost to take myself out of the situation and look down on what I'm doing and think, "Oh, this is kind of cool."

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