"The Hurricane Hit Us dead on [in Miami]," says Gavin Allen, director of Visual Underground. At the end of August, the local firm was in Miami to work MTV's Video Music Awards; they assisted the network's press and production events departments, setting up photo shoots and interviews with celebs.
"I felt bad for the guys laying out the pre-show white carpet," continues Allen, "They had seven hours' notice to tear everything up, right down to the scaffolding and lighting poles.... When they came around [American Airlines Arena at] about 5:30 and told us we had to evacuate, all the locals were saying, 'Oh, it's just a category one. It's nothing to worry about,' so we just holed up at the Hyatt and partied....
"Winds were upward of 75 miles per hour, and palm trees were bending at a 45-degree angle. The windows in the Hyatt restaurant bowed back and forth, and it began leaking from the ceiling.... The storm had cleared up by the next morning, except for some residual winds, so we were back [to work] the following morning at 9 a.m. There were a few leaks in the arena, but no major damage."
Allen says his job keeps him too busy to mingle with celebrities, but he did chat up Brandon Flowers of the Killers.
"They used to do a lot of gigs with the Displaced [a San Diego band] when they were both in Vegas, and he was asking about them, whether they were still together or if they got a record deal yet. He was a nice guy."
On the last Thursday of each month, the Visual Underground shows short indie films at North Park's Whistle Stop Bar. On September 29, they'll present "The Ninja Campaign" with a musical performance by Campaign for Quiet.