L.A. scene-maker Chad Hudson grew up in Charleston, West Virginia—2,340 miles from his West Hollywood office. He loves returning to his roots, where most of Hudson’s family resides. But the founder and owner of Chad Hudson Events lives in a different orbit—one often filled with star sightings.
In 10 years, CHE’s portfolio of events includes numerous Super Bowl parties and Hollywood movie premieres—including “Twilight,” which held the largest-ever Southern California film opening—at L.A. Live, Microsoft Theater and Regal Cinemas. Clients like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kate Winslet and Bobby Flay have called on Hudson for private events. He has also planned corporate meetings for AT&T and DirecTV and conferences for clothing brand Guess. Hudson describes his rise to fame.
Were you the kid who was always organizing birthday parties and mixers?
Yes, I was an organizer from the early days. It started with trying to get friends together and grew from there. I helped organize large festivals and events in college, the biggest being our fraternity’s first-ever fundraiser that evolved into an annual event, raising lots of money for ALS.
Growing up, was there any one event that made you think, “Yeah, I could make that happen.”
I loved watching awards shows like the Oscars and Emmys. They were always some of my favorite nights of the year. I would make my family watch and play along, guessing who the winners would be. There was something that always attracted me to the film and television entertainment world. At the time, I didn’t know what I would be doing but that I wanted to be a part of it somehow.
How does your business break down, percentage-wise, between L.A. and New York?
Our home base is Los Angeles (West Hollywood) and our satellite office is in Midtown Manhattan. We have staff in both cities, but most of us travel back and forth. We’ve also worked in most of the major cities around the country, as well as in Toronto and Mexico, and other international spots. We average about 60 percent L.A., 30 percent New York and 10 percent elsewhere.
What are some similarities and differences you can count on when creating events in those destinations?
The similarities are that we have a great contact list of vendors and staffers, so we can always deliver a high-end, quality event, no matter where we produce it. The biggest differences would be the pricing. Things cost a lot more in some cities than in others.
How much of your business involves doing events during meetings and conferences?
We do a lot, and some of our biggest and best events occur during larger gatherings—the Toronto International Film Festival, South by Southwest, the Super Bowl and many more.
What makes planning an event for a corporate or association group different from doing a movie opening or awards gala?
I find more similarities than differences. For example, we recently did a very large event during Advertising Week in New York and another just before during a hotel conference in Houston. They both took the same type of major planning and design, creativity and execution as our film and television premieres. The biggest difference, I suppose, is that there’s less press coverage.
What might surprise people about your profession?
It’s definitely not all glitzy or glamorous. We do so much behind the scenes that by the time attendees arrive they don’t see the tough parts or how the magic was created. I’ve done everything from wash dishes and bus tables to stuff envelopes and move 200 pieces of furniture. If I’m asking a vendor to do it I’ve probably done it myself at some point.
What’s the one mistake you see event planners make over and over again?
Going over budget without prior client approval. This upsets the client so much and ruins working relationships. Learn to monitor your budgets more closely.
Who was your mentor and what did they teach you about event planning and work ethics?
Courtney Saylor Rogge, my old boss at Warner Bros. Pictures. For seven years, she taught me so much about logistics, budgeting, management and work ethic. I remember we once worked until 4 a.m. on a large event, and then had to be back at the office at 7 a.m. We booked a hotel room a few blocks from the studio to get a couple of hours of sleep.
In what ways do you give back to your local community and your industry?
We started West Hollywood Supper Club 10 years ago. It’s a revolving dinner that moves around each month among local restaurants, with a percentage of the meal and drinks going to a local charity organization. We also volunteer and do pro bono and discounted work for deserving causes.
Describe a typical day off for Chad Hudson.
I enjoy a nice dinner or movie, drinks with friends, maybe a massage. But mainly I like to rest!