Or something like that…
Seeing as the whole day started with going to a set of a music video, you would think that it wouldn’t have turned out as strange as it did. They were shooting a hip-hop music video at a club. There were tons of extras there and what I found to be most interesting was how the director handled them all. He gave each of them a job and got them all where they needed to be and then said action. He mentioned that the PAs on set were making sure that they did the same thing every take, including things like smiling or not smiling because it could cause problems in post if they are not consistent. It was neat seeing a production at work and a director directing. I wouldn’t want to be in charge like that, but it was certainly interesting.
We then had a small break for lunch before heading over to a taping of the Doctors. That was interesting… to say the least.
It was a valentines day episode and I’m not sure how much of it that I can talk about on the internet, so I wont go into much detail about it. It was basically all about sex, I guess, which was weird because we all pretended to be couples with each other except the two real couples on the trip. It was interesting to compare how that show was taped compared to Dr. Phil though because Dr. Phil seemed to go much quicker. They are both shot in the same building with different set ups. It had 4 hosts and guest and they left the stage between segments, more of the show seemed to be scripted I was watching the teleprompter… I love teleprompters as weird as that sounds.
♫ ♫ ♫ "… Cause you’re there for me too." ♫ ♫ ♫
We started out our Wednesday by going to a lovely taping of Dr. Phil once again. This time we started with a behind the scenes tour- it was great to be able to see the control room and look around back stage. It was a great opportunity because there is so much that goes into a show like Dr. Phil than just the Doctor talking to people. It was neat comparing it to the tapings we go to as well because at Dr. Phil they can’t do twenty re-takes and it gets done much quicker. I also enjoyed going backstage just to look at the graphic so that I knew what the show would be about before it started. Sitting in the audience, I ended up being moved to the seat next to a guest and then tried to avoid me getting caught by the camera that was pointed at her… at one point it caught me ear and I was a little freaked out so I like leaned as far out of the frame as I could…
We then went on a great tour of Warner Brothers. The first thing I noticed was all of the Harry Potter stuff being laid out in the gift shop where we started, some of the props from the movie was on display and being a Harry Potter nerd I was in such a happy place. We watched a little video on a montage of Warner Brother shows and movies that were shot there and then started out tour. It was a little like Paramount but at the same time different. It was much more spacious and contained the largest stage in north america. It was where the movie the Perfect Storm was shot and they filled the whole thing with water, sorry it wasn’t shot on an ocean, don’t mean to pop your little bubble or anything. They had a bathroom in the far corner so that they wouldn’t have to open the doors for the cast or crew to leave to go. They climbed up to the rafters and walked along those to get to it. It really was incredible to learn about.
We went to a little museum of Warner Brothers too, where they had a whole floor dedicated to Harry Potter, with a sorting had that really sorted you and everything! I got sorted into Hufflepuff, don’t judge! They had other great movies too, like the Matrix and Where the Wild Things Are, just so that it wasn’t all dominated by Harry Potter. I thought it was great though, seeing props and costumes, it was lovely to be able to look at things from my favorite movie, they went into such detail on all of them. The art director and costume designer must have had a ball making them.
We had a “surprise” too. We went to the place where they stored the props and our tour guide said that we had to turn around and not look because it was a secret surprise. When we turned around we were at the cafe from the TV show Friends! I LOVE THAT SHOW! It was great, they didn’t want to throw away the set so they rebuilt it and put it into the little room. We got some great photos and then went on the rest of our tour. That was an incredible experience though, I was so happy.
We ended our day with a taping of Mike and Molly. This is a show that is in it’s second season and it was much faster paced than 2 Broke Girls was to shoot. It didn’t take nearly as much time, nor as many re-writes to get the show done. Afterwords we got to meet briefly with Director James Burrows, who shared some great advice with us and was so nice to do so.
I have to learn to not say that today is my favorite day ever because I just love so many things about this trip. Today especially because we started our amazing adventures at Paramount Studios. We went around all the lots while listening to our very knowledgeable tour guide. I saw the studio where many of the indoor shots of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was filmed. awe were very fortunate to also be in the same area where some of my favorite television shows were being taped, like Glee, American Horror Story, NCIS: LA, and Community.
Speaking of Community, we got to go onto the set but because it was a live set we weren’t allowed to take pictures, so you my blog viewers must have faith that I went there. What I found most interesting about that was the art direction, I’m not planning on doing much with art direction but I still have an appreciation for those who are good at it. There were posters everywhere and each had to be typed up for the show, there were things written on the board and what looked like hundreds of books lining the shelves. We also saw how they can lower a door and make the hallway look different. It was neat to see the little tricks they pull to make the set more interesting and seem larger than it actually is.
So you’re probably wondering now why I said Glee and other things… well you’re just going to have to wait a bit longer because before I get to that I have to tell you about the amazing theater we went into. Paramount studios does private screenings for their employees and for directors for adding the finishing touches to post-production. The seats alone were worth $500 each and they were old first class airline seats, so they were really, really comfy. Our tour guide, Tricia, explained to us how it is sound proof to the point where they could be filming in the lobby of the theater and it wouldn’t pick the sound up from the movie playing only feat away. Which is useful because they use that lobby to shoot some scenes if people desire to. They just have to cover up the paramount logo.
While we were supposed to leave Paramount to go to Maker Studios today we ended up having the chance to tour another Technicolor building for post on the Paramount lot. So after lunch we made our way back to Paramount and… you guessed it… we saw some Glee things. Like a truck unloading Cheerio costumes to extras… and in a golf cart, the actors who play Quinn, Mercedes, Kurt, and Artie. It was one of those on-set star struck moments that after they were out of site I gleeked out a bit. I just love that show so much and that made my day! Really! It did happen!!
Of course… enough about my lovely glee experience now. We learned a lot about sound post today. Like about foley, which is something we learned at school, but it was so neat to see the sound stage with the different flooring and and shoes and objects to create those sounds. I saw that Vampire Diaries was being looked at in a room next to us, another one of my favorite shows, and I though that was pretty neat. The facilities were really nice and cost so much money to make the building that they were not even finished building them yet. We saw one room where they were still working on making the sound mixer. Technicolor makes me want to work on post because it looks so neat and high tech and fun to do. Though I would be more interested in the color correction or editing concentrations.
Lastly we went to a taping of 2 Broke Girls where Sarah took over the show and got me a free T-Shirt. We noticed the difference between a seasoned show like Two and a Half Men and an up and coming show because it took so much longer for them to get things right. They did an amazing job though and I even walked out with a T-Shirt thanks to Sarah’s amazing outgoing-ness.
Just some pictures because I haven’t added many in a bit, especially to please my sister, who I miss so very much.
Today we left for our 9 to 5 temporary job as a Production Assistant today. We were lucky enough to be able to work at Central City Studios with set dressing. They do things from hospitals to police stations for people to rent out for their movies. They shot parts of movies like Batman Dark Knight and Mission Impossible 4 there. It’s really a great space and they not only think of what the set needs to look like but also how the set can be open enough to get all sorts of interesting camera shots.
I helped dress a living room, a mini office for a doctor, a boss’s office, and a baby’s room today. All seeming random but it really was a lot of fun, especially with 20 of us there all running around doing all sorts of things. We had a nice long battle with a vacuume cleaner because it didn’t want to suck anything up and was giving Sarah and I a hard time… in fact the thing won because no one could fix it and it just magically died. I guess I’m unlucky like that.
It was nice to be able to run around and just create rooms for a day, it wasn’t overly stressful and even though I froze almost the whole day I had a lot of fun. When we came back I booked through getting any last minute changes added to my schedule tomorrow and got a cupcake. Who doesn’t like cupcakes?
Yesterday we had an epic adventure! Climbing the heights to make our way to the big Hollywood sign and climbing over the fence so that we can sit on the letters and take the best group photo yet! Okay, so maybe climbing the fence is illegal and only done in movies like Friends With Benefits, but you know it would have made an awesome photo.
We did climb our way up a trail though that got us somewhat close to the sign… and me, being me, chose not to climb the rest of the trail because it smelt like horse poo… because some people ride horses all the way up… but I still got a really neat view of the sign and it made me quite happy.
We saw a few wild dogs climb up the side of the hill and people were unaware and I was afraid they were going to be eaten or something, but the dogs just strayed off and ignored them, thank goodness. Though my professor thought it was amusing to tell the other group they were Pumas. Whatever works I guess, it is after all a cultural day.
We did eat today at Mel’s Diner where we met a up and coming actor who had been on New Girl as a coffee lady, which was kind of neat. She was amusing. Very entertaining and she had the bump app for passing out your business card through your iphone which seems to be the thing to do in Hollywood.
We also got to go on the star walk and while most people probably looked for their favorite star I just was happy that I found Kermit the Frog! He is the biggest star ever after all, I mean the Muppets just make everyone’s day better. Fact.
To end the day I just want to say it was the amazing Sarah Craig’s birthday and she had a fun night and I did what anyone should do when they are out in a place where movies are made… watch a movie. So I saw Sherlock Holmes… which was… eh. Though I did like the fact it had Noomi Rapace in it. She’s just amazing.
I’m not going to lecture you all today about the guest lectures because that would seem quite long seeing as our group sat through about 5 today. So I’m going to talk about my favorite two, Joe Fazzio and Colleen Everson.
What do these two speakers have in common? Well they both graduated from Ithaca College, they both work for the writing aspect of the film industry and they both had my teacher! They also both gave me a clearer sense of what exactly I have to do to break into the industry as a writer for a TV show, something that I really was unsure about before.
Joe Fazzio is a staff writer for the notorious show Revenge, I’m not going to lie and say how I watch that show and how amazing it is because really I have no idea. A neat little fact about him is that he is the youngest writer on the Revenge staff, which I found interesting at least. He talked to us about how he started his career off with 2 internships that he did during his LA program at Ithaca College. Most of the speakers that come and talk to us say that it’s a good thing to have that internship on your resume, it makes it stand out more. He then became an office PA and moved up to a writer PA. He made lots of great connections and eventually met a mentor to help move him along the process and eventually staffed him on Revenge.
He gave some great advice to just keep working hard and build a portfolio. He said something that other people say as well is that to keep writing and if you keep writing you get better and better at it. Of course, that and have a great attitude. PA jobs are to test you and if you can handle them without getting as stressed out and keep a smile then people are more likely to help you move forward in your career.
Keeping to the same line of work, Colleen Everson is a writers assistant for the show Make It or Break It… which I have seen! I like it a little bit, it has too much teen drama in it for me, but I know a few of my friends really like it. Colleen told us the importance of taking jobs that aren’t exactly what you are looking for and how to make the most out of them. She taught us about how you should always re-evaluate a position you are in and whether or not it will help you get to where you need to be. Of course, if you decide to leave your job you need to do it in a professional manner, not to burn any bridges. People you know is everything and who knows where you may end up because of someone you once worked with.
She was lucky enough to get a spot as a writers assistant… writers assistants work to record all the different things that writers say during their meetings. She said that you have to be a really fast typer and just get into the zone. I really liked her input on how you work long hours but the more you work the better you get at it. Hopefully a writers assistant job turns into a staffed writers job.
The one thing that both warned us about, besides not burning bridges, is that writer jobs come and go and there may be times where you don’t have much work. If you get a good relationship with your boss they may help you get an agent. Agents are useful because they help sell you to other companies when you are out of a job because they get cut 10% of your profits that you make. Which can be a lot but at least you have someone to help find you a job when the show is over or cancelled.
I know that I would love to work for a hour long drama show in the future and now that I know that writers can sometimes go to set, that makes me even more happy because I love set and seeing all the camera men do their jobs! I am thankful that I had the chance to meet these speakers because it really gave me a clearer sense of what I should be trying to do to get a writers job. The question of what show we would want to write for got tossed around the room and if I was to get hired right now for any show… I would love to work for American Horror Story, it’s just an interesting show and currently one of my favorites, so I would check it out.
Our day started with a great tour of the set of the show The Office! It is a very unique set, unlike the NCIS set we visited earlier this trip, this set was in one building and looked like you were in the actually office building. For the first little while I forgot it was a set and built just for filming. It made me really appreciate the art direction though. The little things is really what makes it seem realistic. We sat in the conference room and talked about different things revolving around the show. For example they talked about how their set was more cost efficient because almost everything was on location and how much more it would cost them if they were to leave and go to a location to shoot. They would have to pay to shoot there and pay for transportation, something that can’t always be fit into a budget for a television show.
If you have seen The Office then you would know that it is shot like a documentary. That being said, all the camera work for that show is done handheld. They have two rehearsals, one for the actors and one for the cameramen. I found that interesting because the director has to block both of them, blocking meaning that they have to explain what exactly they are doing for each scene.
Another thing that makes the set so interesting is that they have the writers, the set, and actors all in the same building. That makes they whole production from pre to post in the same building when normally it is scattered throughout the city in different buildings. We had the chance to talk to some of the editors who were working on cutting an episode. It was interesting in the example they had a 1 minute and 30 second clip that needed to be shorted to about 45 seconds. This is really common for this show. He said that there are many great jokes but in the end the show has to be 21 minutes and a half. Usually they get about 40 minutes worth of an episode. The editor said that sometimes they call the studio and ask for a few extra seconds but it rarely happens that they get it.
Continuing with Post Production we went to Technicolor where we learned more about what their facilities do for clients. It is a post production shop that only goes on set occasionally with gels and such for lighting. What they mainly do is color correction, which is something that I really want to learn more about. After a short tour we spent a lot of time talking to a colorist who was showing us on a episode of CSI Miami what the color correction does.
For the most part when a episode comes in it is very dull with very little colors. They have to play with the different colors, saturation and contrast to get the colors to pop more to what the clients want. For example, in an opening shot they may want the water to be more blue even though the water looks almost grey. It seemed like it would be a nice job just to sit and work on that for awhile. He was telling us that it has expensive technology and that there are a few things to try at home but it would be nothing compared to the work they do there. Then again, I may have to just try my hand on some basic coloring techniques.
To end our day we went to a show taping of Two and a Half Men. It was a great experience and made my voice disappear for a while from all the cheering. They had monitors where they screened some scenes that they had shot to get our reactions and shot some scenes too. It was fun to watch all the commotion on stage. They even had entertainment for the audience as well, providing us with a drink and pizza half way through. It was fun to see all the production people doing their jobs though, it’s always more interesting to watch them actually work than to listen to them talk about it.
We got to go to one of the most amazing stores in all of Los Angeles, to my knowledge of LA so far at least, The Writer’s Shop. The store was full of all sorts of books and supplies for screenwriters and filmmakers. If I had more money I probably would have spent all of my money in that store they had a book on everything from horror writing to forensics. It was beautiful.
The reason we had the chance to go to this store though was to meet Emmy Award Winning Jason Tomaric, who wrote the book Filmmaking. He gave us a more real aspect of the film industry that any other speaker we have had. He talked not about how to make great movies, but the business aspect of it because in the end we are the owners of our own company and most of us will end up in freelance work.
He started out by telling us that everyone has to start at the ground level, you need to be able to make money for someone else, or offer them something that will make you needed. He said that you are either so busy that you get work all the time or you are waiting for the next call saying you have a job. It’s just something to expect. You wont always have work but you have to keep selling yourself and love what you do. If you’re good and keep your connections you will always have something to fall back on though.
His way of making money writing is that you need something that is different, something that is new and unique. You need to be able to know the technique of writing like the 3-act structure which everyone looks for in a script and you need to understand business and how your script will make someone else money, in the end everything is all about the money in the film industry.
You would think that after this talk I would be discouraged from going any further in my studies, but I really understand that you have to work really hard and be able to advertise yourself. So I found his talk more educational than anything. I even bought his book and had him sign it. It was an overall great day.
To start off our day we went to a show taping of The Soup. It was a different experience from watching Doctor Phil, not only in content of the show, but also the role of the audience and what the stage looks like. For those of you who don’t know what The Soup is, it’s a TV show hosted by Joel McHale that adds humor to make a 20 minute show about different shows that are on the air. It’s all shot on a green screen, that was all the set consisted of. He would make the audience laugh in between takes keeping us all amused for the most part. As the audience we provided laughter for the show, being overly energetic. Just like the Doctor Phil show they encouraged us to be overly excited for everything. It was a lot of fun really. In the end we got a group shot with Joel McHale.
We then went on a tour of E with a former student of my teacher, Ann Fortune. Our first stop was the news room. E has 2 meetings everyday to talk about their stories and go over them, everyone helps and when people call in sick they notice and have to cover their slack. The news room also has a place to call in interveiws if they are interveiwing someone from far away. For their online content they don’t release all the stories at once. Only putting out the best content when it is something very important. Other than that they try to spread it out through the course of a day. They also try to create similarities between the online and on air news stories.
Our next stop was the Media Center where they store all of the tapes from the shows that E has. They are all registered in their Daisy system, which is Digital Asset Information System. There were walls and walls of tapes that were all being stored there, and that wasn’t even all of them. They have some in the basement and off location too. They have so many tapes that they have no more room for them. It was just interesting to see what they did with all the tapes for storage and such, because it’s not something you tend to think about if you’re shooting.
Lastly we stopped by a studio where they set up for a news type show. It was interesting to see how the set had changed and how the different cameras and lights were set up. Some of my classmates even got to try the crane shots. It was amusing to watch but some even got the hang of it. Overall I would say that E is a interesting place and we were very fortunate to be able to go on such a great tour.