I've always been a fan of classic films, film making in general has always been magical to me. And nowhere does it's history lie more deeply engrained than Hollywood. I remember watching the That's Entertainment series as a child and being completely entranced by the snapshot into the archives and insights into what happened behind the camera. So when visiting Los Angeles, I saw it as a great opportunity to get closer to the action, and head on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
The offer of exploring the sets, soundstages, and iconic locations on Warner Bros.' legendary studio was too tempting to miss, so we headed to their Burbank location. The famous backlot locations have been used in some of the world's most popular movies and television series, including Best Picture Oscar winners Argo and Million Dollar Baby and wildly successful television programing such as The Big Bang Theory and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The tour begins with a short introduction from the chat show host herself, reflecting on the great history that has taken place on this lot. I don't know if it was the sweeping soundtrack or the powerful montage of iconic scenes, but I was left hyped and eager to go.
Our tour guide was called Max and he was the perfect host. He was funny, helpful and definitely knew his stuff. As the group of twelve embarked on our buggy ride into the Warner Bros. lot, he quizzed us on some of the films and TV shows that were filmed there. My Rich Tip here would be to let your guide know what you are interested in. The tours are somewhat tailored to the group, meaning your guide can show you exactly what you want to see. For example, our group loved Ellen but not many had watched Pretty Little Liars, so we visited the Ellen studio over the other.
Our first stop was on the streets of New York, well the movie version. It was great to see how all the exteriors linked with each other and find out which buildings had been seen in which films. You could look at up-close details from brickwork to gum on the streets and learn how the designers created the effects. I don't know if it was the nostalgia, but there felt like a real presence on the streets, and it was fun to peer through the doors and see nothing but a plywood panel lying behind.
The tour takes you through many sets such as city halls, suburban living and even a little patch of Central Park. Then we ventured through the doors of some very famous soundstages. We saw the real-life set of The Big Bang Theory, where the living room was all left frozen in time as though they were about to call action. I loved seeing in person, something I had watched so many times on television. Our guide again, taught us about the tricks of filming the sitcom, such as the use of colours and scale to give the illusion of space. On the door of each stage, there is a list of all the films and shows recorded there, which reminded me of how much history had taken place on this lot.
Throughout the tour, we stopped off at mini exhibitions where you witnessed the genuine props and costumes at a very close level. There were items from Harry Potter, Batman v Superman and the full set of outfits from the upcoming, Suicide Squad. There was also a special exhibition with all the cars seen in the Batman franchise, which were all fully working vehicles.
The tour ended with a newly added exhibition entitled "Stage 48: Script to Screen", which was incredibly insightful and cleverly designed. It told the story of how film is made; from writing to casting, shooting and editing. It visually showed how the various elements worked together and used many very important voices in the industry to give their input. They also had a great use of interactive elements, such as the chance so sit in the set of Central Perk from Friends and fly on the Harry Potter broomstick.
The Warner Bros. Tour was dream for any film and television buff. The lot holds such a great deal of history, and it was a real treat to walk down the streets and into the studios where genuine Hollywood A-list have walked before. Our guide did a superb job of explaining the work that goes into each production and was brimming with knowledge on about everything that had taken place in the studio. It was one of the high-points of my Los Angeles adventure and I really loved touring the home of Hollywood.
Images: Richard Brownlie-Marshall