Behind the Scenes at the Life Is Beautiful Lineup Announcement Film Shoot

There’s a lot of saving to do when planning to attend a major music festival. Save the dates on your calendar and hold onto a couple vacation days at work. Save up funds to enjoy without looking at bank account balances. Stow away fun fashion finds to wow when the day to slip on that wristband finally comes. Most importantly, though, there’s energy to be saved—you have three days of walking around a sensory-overload musical playground ahead of you, and it’s probably a good idea to get some rest before crossing the festival threshold.

That’s the idea behind the Life Is Beautiful music festival lineup announcement short film, in which an elderly gentleman wakes up to a glitzy Vegas fantasyland—complete with a striptease from a burlesque beauty, colorful circus props and costumed performers, as well as a troupe of acrobats and aerialists performing tricks that make one’s heart race—after being coaxed out of a self-inflicted, yearlong hibernation following his experience at the festival’s 2016 installment.

“You’ve got this 78-year-old man—even he went to the festival and loved it,” says Ryen McPherson, creative director of Critical Focus, the production company behind the short film. “It was about the idea that the festival is for everybody, and … the things that matter as you get older. How much [do] you care about those things, and to what extent are you willing to go to show that? In this guy’s case, it was going to sleep for an entire year so he can be ready.”

The festival started its tradition of sharing the lineup via video in 2013, and this is the fourth video Critical Focus has helmed. While each flick has been unique in concept, characters and production, they all seem to share one quality: spectacle.

“Life Is Beautiful has always been fun to create things for, because it has so many different components, so many different things you can pull from it,” McPherson says. He adds that this year, he wanted to make the work more cinematic—to tell a story while sharing a badass roster of headliners. “I like to set things up where, [in] the initial moment, you [say] ‘What the hell’s going on? There’s a dead guy in a room and there’s a doctor,’ and then it starts to build into something really pretty.”

This year’s film was shot exclusively at LOVE Theater in The Mirage, and features performers from headlining productions up and down the Strip. In addition to cast members from each Cirque du Soleil show (which is fitting, considering Cirque’s longtime participation in Life Is Beautiful), the video also stars Melody Sweets of Absinthe, Piff the Magic Dragon (and his Chihuahua sidekick, Mr. Piffles), Carrot Top, Louie Anderson and the Blue Man Group—many of whom have also participated in past years of the festival. While McPherson says it took two months to shoot last year’s video, the logistics of assembling the long list of Strip talent required the entire 2017 project to be filmed in one day.

“We needed to bring in the best talent we could find from Las Vegas and cover that theater in cameras,” McPherson says. “It was, by far, one of the most ambitious things I’ve ever done professionally, given the amount of time we had and the [level] of expectation.”

Photography by Krystal Ramirez

Vegas Seven