EP Jesse Ignjatovic’s Vision for a ‘Big, Blockbuster’ MTV Movie Awards

by Daina Amorosano, Viacom

Rebel Wilson, Channing Tatum

From Will Ferrell accepting the Comedic Genius Award to Ted vs Channing Tatum for Best Shirtless Performance, Hollywood will be convening for a can’t-miss show this Sunday, April 14, at the MTV Movie Awards. With talent ranging from host Rebel Wilson to Brad Pitt (presenting movie of the year!), plus comedians like Seth Rogen and Melissa McCarthy, the awards show promises to be “epic.” Ahead of the show this weekend, MTV Movie Awards EP Jesse Ignjatovic walked us through some of its big moments, as well as the overall creative vision for this year’s show, which he describes as “big and blockbuster.”

Can you tell me a bit about your creative vision for the show?

JI: This year we moved the show up from the first week of June to first week of April to get ahead of summer movie season. The Movie Awards – unlike a lot of other awards show – is about what’s coming as much as it’s about the previous year. Getting ahead of films like Fast and Furious and Iron Man to get excited about what’s coming next influenced the creative.

We wanted to give the show a blockbuster feel. Everything you watch will be “epic” – everything is going to have scale. We’re building big excitement around every moment and every film.

Each show, you put together these very elaborate spectacle presentations (such as last year’s Prometheus or this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness scenic). Can you tell me a little about how that will play out this year?

JI: We create a visual moment tied to a moment from the film – we take a visual moment from the film to the turbine stage, a big open stage where we can create any sort of scenic. For the Star Trek presentation, the cast will come through the rubble. We partner with the movie studios in terms of accessing the visuals we want to use, but on our side we create the scenic. This year we’ll have Fast & Furious, Star Trek Into Darkness and an epic intro for Catching Fire.

How do you tailor the show to the host?

What’s great is that we went to Rebel [Wilson] early, at the end of last year – we had our approach in terms of creative for this year’s. We’re like minds and she really grabbed onto it and took into her amazing comedic direction. The second you tune in, you see how she’s made her mark. She’s taken it to another level, especially with a big opening number which is so exciting for us. But she really keeps her foot to the pedal throughout, with lots of great comedic moments. She’s the perfect heroine for the show.

What’s the difference in production for MTV’s Video Music Awards versus the Movie Awards?

One’s tied to music, and one’s tied to film, so you get a special opportunity to work closely with a lot of that movie talent. A lot our comedic moments or on-stage moments are tied to talent having ideas. It’s fun to conceptualize those ideas and what those can be.

For the VMAs, we have to think about how we are going to stage an amazing performance – we put on 8-10 big numbers. For this show, we have two musical performances and the opportunity to create big, watercooler moments on stage. It’s a different beast, similar though in terms of production value and thought.

As for the musical performances we’ll have: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are a big energetic artist and their single is an anthem, so I think they fit perfectly into what we’re doing with the blockbuster theme. They also get the whole room involved. Macklemore has an energy that comes forward. We haven’t seen them in a big scale performance yet so we’re excited to do that.

And Selena Gomez was an obvious choice – tied to film, a huge artist, and also tied to Spring Breakers. We’ll have her performing her new single on the stage for the first time – and of course our audience loves her.

Increasingly, there’s a pressure to bring “funny” to the show – do you feel that pressure?

The Movie Awards have always had that irreverent comedic angle, so I think the pressure is the drive to live up to that and surpass it however possible. This year with the host we have in Rebel, I feel like it’s going to feel like those historic awards shows. Can we bring those moments so that people are talking about it throughout the show and afterward? I think we have the opportunity to have that kind of show.

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