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.

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."

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