1. First of all, you’re going to need more space. That crowded basement or garage isn’t going to cut it: you’ll need a warehouse (ideally a multi-warehouse complex) or at minimum an entire house.
2. Turn those lights up! The characters are going to need to be visible on camera (duh), so dark-n-sexy lighting isn’t going to work for them. Anyway, if they do make out it won’t be on the dance floor like shameless actual people, it will be in a bathroom or hallway or out on the trampoline (better make a quick Sam’s Club run if you don’t have one of these) because that’s more believable.
3. Keep your guests spaced out. Normally, guests will want to cram themselves into one room to dance/ drink/ grope in the anonymity of a crowd, but if this is going to be a movie party or a TV party, you’re going to need to keep your guests evenly spaced so that it looks like a bigger crowd—and so that the heroine’s frenemy can be clearly seen giving her the stink-eye from all the way across the room.
4. Remove the screen from the first-floor bathroom window. Any number of common plot developments will require egress through this window.
5. Decide on a dress code, and strictly enforce it. In real life, parties always have that one guy who randomly shows up dressed as Boba Fett, or that random goth girl—but in a movie or TV show, viewers will assume people who stick out like that are doing so for plot-related reasons, and if Boba Fett just gets drunk and passes out like he would in real life, viewers will post angry comments on reviews or recaps pointing out that “the Boba Fett plot thread” was totally left dangling.
6. Choose an attractive—but not suspiciously attractive—guy to be in charge of the keg, and make sure there are never any lines at the keg. This is important: screenplays never call for characters to wait in line for the keg like they would in real life. They need to get their drinks quickly, because they probably have some wacky misadventures they need to get up to after your party—they can’t be wasting time waiting for the keg.
7. Make sure you have good insurance. If as party host you’re not yourself a movie or TV character, chances are that the characters are coming to what they only know as “some party” in order to have a fight, break something, or O.D. They’re not just looking to have a nice time.
8. Plan ahead of time to have a trusted neighbor call the cops and/or your parents, who will be inevitably expected if the party continues past midnight.
9. Get a cool-looking DJ—parties in movies and on TV never just have an iPod plugged in somewhere—and instruct him/her to play brand-new songs by bands who slept with record executives. Make sure your guests know that they’re going to have to dance to these songs like old favorites, and tell the DJ that under no circumstances is he or she to accept requests for Beyoncé or Rihanna, because they’re on the wrong label.
10. Invite your 14-year-old brother. Warn him that he probably won’t lose his virginity, but that a hot girl might cry on his shoulder and pass out in an amusing face-down position on his lap—at which point he’ll need to look wide-eyed, as though no one’s face has ever been there before.