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Behind the Scenes with Bon Jovi By Darcie Guilbert

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BOSTON - Ten communications students learned how a major concert is put together Tuesday March 1, 2011 during a special daylong internship with the Bon Jovi Circle Tour at the Boston Garden.

"We got to watch the preshow production, listen to the sound check, tour the backstage areas, and photograph in the pit," said Lydia Hardy, senior graphic design student. "I don't think life will get much better than that. Definitely the highlight of my senior year."

The opportunity came about when Bon Jovi's VIP Experience Manager, Mike Savas, contacted Communications Professor and Communications Honor Society Advisor Marlene Fine. In college, Savas was inducted into the National Communications Honor Society, and as tribute, he invited students of local chapters.

The six senior members of the society had first privilege to participate in the internship, but only three accepted, so the other seven positions were opened to other communications students.

"We had short notice, so we were in hyper mode to prepare for it," said senior graphic designer Nelinda Levy.

Students met with faculty on Monday afternoon to get advice on how to photograph and film the event. "Be sure to get distance and close ups, actions and stills, interesting aspects and definitely not posed," said Judith Aronson, communications professor and professional photographer.

The day started at 9 a.m. at the Garden with a tour of the production (lighting, audio, and video) with Savas. Backstage passes were issued right away. Students then interviewed Bon Jovi's right hand man, good friend, and production manager, Jesse Sandler.

"I'd say that 95 to 99 percent of the time everything is smooth sailing," said Sandler, who spent over two hours with the students, answering questions and giving a tour of backstage and onstage.

"We got to touch Jon's microphone stand," said Steph Paulovich, senior integrated media student. Sandler took students to the various backstage offices, such as management, video, finance, catering, and dressing rooms.

"I cannot believe we got to go into Jon's dressing room. His stylist was so sweet and showed us his [Jon's] wardrobe and told us what he did when he got there," said Levy.

"We knew what he was going to wear for the concert before anyone else."

"She [Jon's stylist] even showed us a note to Jon from his daughter Stephanie. They seem like a great family," said Hardy.

"Since it was Jon's birthday the next day, we asked if we could make him a video for his birthday that he could watch when he came into his dressing room the following night before his concert in [Washington] D.C.," said Heather Campos, junior integrated media student. "His stylist said yes, so we put one together of us singing happy birthday, and then we filmed the tour crew saying happy birthday, too."

"We took so many photos and tons of footage," said Levy.
Students were allowed to go in the "pit" to photograph the first three songs, according to Levy. The pit is the area inside the circle of the stage (about 15 feet from the band).

"We were with the professional photographers," said Quinn, senior graphic designer. "We were so close. I took about 100 photos in the 15 minutes we got to stay there."

"You're only allowed to say for the first three songs because Jon gets sweaty and doesn't want close ups taken of him," said Savas.

As part of the internship, students attended the concert as Jon's guests. The seats were located center stage about 100 feet from the stage, according to Campos.

"We stood for most of the concert. The performance was amazing, and Jon was really interactive with the audience," said Hardy.

"What a full day," said Levy.

"It was amazing what they accomplished in such a short time," said Quinn. "When we left for lunch, the lights were still on the ground, and the stage was being built at the other end of the Garden. When we got back, the lights were suspended and the stage was in place. It was unbelievable."

"We were also put to work," said Paulovich. "We had to hand out PR material. There was a flyer and gift card for 35% off online merchandise purchases. We were located in the concourse area and it took about 40 minutes."

"Our press badges were awesome. We could get through everyone," said Campos. "People were wondering why we were special."

"It was truly an inside look of a major event. I've always been curious what goes on behind scenes," said Quinn.

The Communications Department wants to get as much leverage from the event as possible, said Andy Porter, communications professor. Commtracks, the annual Communications magazine, has decided to dedicate a whole spread to this event. Videos and photographs will also be added to the website and a radio show will cover the event.

"Talk about a once in a lifetime experience," said Hardy. "I'm so grateful I got to be a part of it."

"I was pretty much shaking when I found out," said Quinn. "I couldn't breathe. I thought it was a joke."

"I spent three hours in the fetal position. I grew up listening to Bon Jovi every Saturday while cooking with my mom," said Levy.

Students returned home with an understanding in concert production, hundreds of photos, hours of video, some contacts, and not only humming but also livin' on a prayer.

Posted by Gabriela Cordeiro Antunes on May 3, 2011 12:47 PM