Yes, it's been a while since I've written. I've been traveling and am about to do some more, but one thing at a time. I'm going to "lie" about the post date of this blog because it was written and photographed quite some time ago.
So, I recently returned from Los Angeles. While having fun was part of the plan, I was also doing some reconnaissance for my career. As an aspiring filmmaker, it's definitely a place I want to be at some point- though that point might be a little later in time than I initially thought. Quite a few people are cynical about "La-la Land" (a term that I really dislike), but I think that a lot of that is founded on its Hollywood mystique and its mostly false promises that anyone can make it big on a dream (though those are good reasons to be cynical, I suppose). In the end it's just place, and even the Hollywood power players are just people.
That's not to say us film geeks don't find it magical on a certain level. The "fun" highlight of my trip was a tour of Warner Brothers (thanks to Opie for recommending this). While I maintained my outward composure, the inner me was pretty much geeking out. Click on the images below for a little slide show (and they wouldn't let us take pictures of some of the really cool stuff)...
One of the "cool stuff" we didn't get to take pictures of was legendary "stage 16-" the largest sound stage in the world (over 32,000 square feet and 65 feet tall). They even rent it out to other studios. Jurassic Park was filmed there! Many other films were also filmed there, but I'm just saying, this place is big enough to house a T-Rex! It also has a two million gallon water tank under the floor. The very thought of that made me shudder. Poseidon (the new) was filmed there. The thought of walking into a building and seeing ships floating around was just too much for my brain.
Other off-limits "cool stuff" was their museum (which is pretty much dedicated to Harry Potter at the moment), and the set of "Chuck." I don't particularly like that show, but it was pretty cool to walk around the set. They also have one of the few remaining Scenic Art departments that allows hand-painting of enormous backdrops for sets. Quite a bit of that is done digitally these days, but they still keep pretty busy, it seems. There's a slit in the floor that allows the canvas to be raised up and down 30 vertical feet so the artists can keep their feet on the ground rather than climb scaffolding. I thought that was a pretty well thought-out touch.
Now, I'd also like to avoid implying that Los Angles doesn't take some... getting used to. Burbank (which is more "Hollywood" than the actual place called "Hollywood") is particularly odd and really does have that "movie magic" mix of awe and bullshit. I can deal with that, though. There were other things that are keeping me from making any sort of immediate move:
Housing is extremely expensive. Being from Boulder, which has its own high-range price tags, I wasn't too shocked to hear the prices of rentals, but it's definitely not cheap. Neither place would be ideal for someone without a job.
The second point of frustration was the driving. I was there for ten days and it cost me $150 in gas! Granted, I was doing quite a bit of driving, but if one were to end up in a commuter situation, it would probably be comparable to that without an alternative fuel vehicle. I was able to avoid the highways during rush hour (though it's pretty easy to get in a traffic jam at 2am), but I wasn't able to avoid getting severely lost. I had my trusty iPhone with Google Maps, but when you are both driver and navigator, that does little to help. I would definitely want some sort of GPS if I lived there...
By the way- if anyone at Google Maps is reading this: a 90 degree turn is a "left," not a "slight" left. A "slight" left implies that the road curves... "slightly" or that there is a fork in the road. When you have to turn 90 degrees to the left at an intersection, that is called "making a left." Thank you for utterly confusing me and adding to the feeling of hopelessness. Needless to say, I never made it up to Griffith Park Observatory and I never saw the damn Hollywood sign.
The third- and greatest- annoyance was the smog. I tried to stay west of the hills whenever possible, but when I traveled into the smog sink that is Burbank, I got a sore throat and a mild attack of asthma within about an hour. I would have a hard time living or working right there. Burbank is, incidentally, where I got lost the most. On several occasions, I wound up on the back lot of a movie studio, apologizing profusely to a security guard (only later wishing I hadn't apologized as much as lied and gotten myself past the gates).
All in all, though, I had a great time. Santa Monica is the place for me! If I could get a job there AND live there (both realistic dreams), I'd be pretty happy. You can actually walk around there, ride your bike, and of course, hang out at the beach (even on a cold, gray day like this one)!