The day began with us awaking from slumber. Like Sleeping Beauty we emerged from a coma caused by forty-eight hours of remaining awake; our prince charming an alarm clock. Day two within the confines of Hollywood, it was 11:00am and the choice of activities to do for the day were endless.
With so many decisions to be made, we prepared by breaking our fast in a charming Snow White and the seven dwarfs café. The walls were painted with all caricatures of dwarfs and scenes from the hit Disney movie.
After a day of chips, burgers, chips and burgers, we were dying for a vegetable; something not produced by a manufacturing plant. Thankfully the snow white assisted our diet, offering a vegetable omelette delight with pepper for bite. The succulent taste of a natural food produce cannot be described, I feel it would be on par with a coke addict finally getting a hit after an extended period.
The coffee however leaves much to be desired. Percolated black trash. Americans love black coffee, love it. Is there a link between the favouring of black coffee with a high proportionality of blacks in the area? Is it deemed racist to put white stuff in a black good? Whatever the reason I had to request a pot of milk to increase the taste of the goo put in front of me. Amazingly that white milk made it quite nice.
After much deliberation, the duo made a decision on what to do for the day. The power of television in the advertising world is hard to knock. In order to succeed in the music business, one must get their name out into the world and impress.
With this in mind, the production of a music video for our debut single would give lift off to our careers setting us on the path to fame and fortune. So off we headed to Warner Bros Studios.
A quick return to our hotel saw us pass some god botherers. Asian in ethnicity, these walking partisans were billowing the name of the lord through a microphone connected to an amp singing “If” you believe in Jesus, you go to heaven.
“If” you don’t believe in Jesus, you go to hell.” Blunt to say the least, wonder if those sex predator priests still have their ticket to heaven, or has it been reneged?
Reaching our hotel we met Norma, our housekeeper. Norma, a spritely latino lady of sixty, asked us why we hadn’t been at breakfast. The hotel provides a complimentary breakfast each morning between 7 and 10AM. Jet lag, Norma, jet lag. She understood although said that us Australians must come the following morning, must come or else she will knock on our door. Good ol’ Norma.
Uber driver Chin transported us to the studios. He was an okay driver, got us there in time. It didn’t take much guessing what he had had for dinner, the smell of noodles was thick. Not stereotypical at all.
Arriving at Warner Bros, it struck us as being absolutely huge. It has over one hundred buildings including its own fuel and fire station. Finding reception proved a difficult task.
Our determination was not dented, and we eventually found the film making department. Inquiries into the rental of a studio complete with film making and make up team proved fruitless, they were simply too busy to accommodate our music video. Upon being asked of any upcoming vacancies, the manager Rob, inquired how long we were in the Us for? Until the 12th of Feb we replied.
“Ah, damn it. We are busy all days up until then but have vacancies on the 13th right through to March.”
With our dreams of global domination taken a hit, we decided to remain at the studio and partake in a tour of the facilities. The tour was conducted by Effrin whom drove us around on a motorised buggy, informing us about the studios and what movies were filmed where.
The studios have been in existence for 97 years when the four Warner Bros began showing an avid interest in film making. The business began in Pennsylvania where they produced the first “talkie”, sound motion picture.
They packed their bags and moved to Burbank LA (the current site) when the company was forced to pay royalties to Thomas Eddison, inventor of the sound recorder, for his patent. The royalties only extended over a certain area, LA was safe so there they went.
There were originally four studios on the one site including the famous Columbia Pictures. The mammoth success of Batman in 1989 starring Michael Keaton in the cape and Jack Nicholson as the Joker flushed the company full of cash enabling them to purchase the site outright from the three opposing studios.
Batman therefore holds a special place in the studio’s heart. A hole studio is dedicated to the franchise. It houses all the batmobiles from 1989 to 2016 plus some of Batman’s weapons. Plenty of photos were shot in this room, the two of us being such big batman fans.
Moving on, we wandered through the props shed. Noe this was something. A huge area filled from top of bottom in movie props used throughout the studio’s history. It was like a bloated antiques store loaded with everything known to man.
Chandeliers hung from the ceilings, portraits hung on the walls, shelves were loaded with trinkets, phones, televisions, knick knacks and accessories from various eras. Pirate props, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, gangsters, you name it, it was there.
One room was outfitted to model the president’s room at the White House. I grabbed a photo opportunity however put my sunglasses down and forgot to pick them back up. Later attempts to find them in lost and found proved futile. Maybe one day, a movie involving the president will feature my sunglasses.
A favourite part for me was seeing the backlots. These are life size sets used to model a city scape. New York and Chicago had their very own streetscapes. They looked very real and strangely familiar given they have been used for countless films.
Efrain pointed out that none of the buildings had door handles and fittings. This is so the time period a film is set in can be accurately modelled. Seems a simple change in door handles achieve this.
The seasons can also be modelled. If its Summer in LA at the time of filming yet Winter in the movie, fake snow is pumped into the street and trees are stripped of leaves. If it’s the other way round, branches with leaves are cable tied to the trees.
Another shed housed the actual set of the new television series Lethal Weapon. The shed was completely soundproofed, the walls covered in these pillows that absorb sound. The sets were so realistic yet so fake at the same time. Outside the windows are massive curtains with scenes printed on them.
Given Lethal Weapon is set in the city, the curtains were printed in the image of a city with high skyscrapers to make it feel like you were in the city, forty storeys high. It looked very realistic.
Outside we saw the lone remaining jungle set. Its an actual jungle with big trees, hanging vines and a billabong (which can be emptied and rained in twelve hours and heated or cooled). Famous Jurassic Park scenes was shot here after the set in Hawaii was destroyed to a cyclone. Scenes filmed there included the T-rex chasing Jeff Goldblum’s jeep.
A whole shed was dedicated to Harry Potter and the DC universe. On display were the original comics of each superhero including Superman in 1932, Batman 1942 and Flash Gordon 1960. There were the actual capes and suits worn in the films and collectible memorabilia not for sale. The batman suit for the dark knight looked particularly heavy and hot.
The final shed we visited was dedicated to the studio’s history. It featured famous sets, costumes and props plus the process of making a film. On display were the mindmaps to the television show Shameless where writer’s have debated the fates of characters and what they get up to. Whole stacks of film scripts littered one display plus the method behind the casting process.
There were models of buildings with green screens surrounding it used in the Hangover films. Green screens are used because green does not show in our skin pigment, making it easy to edit the green out from behind.
Clay figures used for stop motion animation such as Wallace and Grommet, the broomstick used in the quidditch scene of Harry Potter and the mechanical arm that moves it, motion sensor animation that transfers your movements onto a character on the screen (in this case Dobby from Harry Potter) plus the process behind filming the Hobbit in making Gandolf appear larger than the halflings were all on display.
A highlight for Ned was the Clint Eastwood display. Within the case was the Smith and Wesson .45 revolver Eastwood’s iconic character Harry Callahan used in Dirty Harry. It was bloody huge.
Following the early disappointment of having their music video dreams dashed, the Talbot Bros were able to salvage an enjoyable day but it was time to go.
Uber was contacted. Wanted: a good knowledgeable yet quick driver with heavily tinted windows so as to not be recognised by the paparazzi and general public. We got Cigi.
Cigi was a bubbly black African-American local. Very talkative, it took her a single guess to successfully predict our nationality.
“You folks from down under?”
Why does Australia get down under? Surely New Zealand two could get the nick name down under, afterall they are furtherer down than us. Anyway, curious how this little world works.
Now, I’m about to reveal a bit of information that Australians (especially the media) will not like. It is shocking, but yes, no one cares about Donald Trump. Crikey! But that can’t be right, the whole world cares about Donald Trump and how much of prick he is.
Well actually, since being in America we have not seen one protest against him, not one protest poster (not even a poster itself), not any word about him and not even a front page article (today’s USA Today’s first mention of Trump came on page 9, and that was his last mention).
Please, feel free to take a seat at this news. Don’t know where the Herald Sun and television networks are conjuring this shit from. Sure, the US networks have run a story or two on him but there’s certainly no chaos or riots like the ones portrayed back home.
We raised the Trump issue with Cigi, thoroughly fascinated to hear the opinion of a US citizen without the toxic filtration of an Australian news service. Cigi said she would reserve her opinion on Trump until his four years were up, then she would have a say. Her only real gripe was his treatment of people. This was a surprising response, I was expecting a real slaughterous attack Trump, all I got was a measured response.
The final event of the day was NBA, so back to the Staple’s Centre we went. On the way, Adam stopped at the Sam Ash keyboard centre to inspect their merchandise, maybe even offer them a sponsorship deal to support him on the tour.
Every keyboard known to man was on display. Pianos, moogs, continuums, effects pedals, finger boards, it was all there. To improve his playing, Adam searched through the sheet music books and found a winner, the Super Mario Brothers Soundtrack.
The LA Clippers were scheduled to play the Golden State Warriors. Some big names were playing; Steph Curry (the Chris Judd of the NBA) and Kevin Durant for the warriors, Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan for the clippers.
It was a one-sided affair though high scoring, the final score 132-120 seeing the Warriors win away from home.
Was strange for Ned to watch it without commentary, every game in Australia is on televisions there’s always commentary there. Saw an absolute cracker of a dunk from Griffin. He jumped straight over the top of his opponent to massage the ball through the hoop. Top stuff.
The American professional sport competitions are surely the most entertaining in the world as a live spectacle. There is always something going on, always. Whether it be music playing, a crowd competition, trivia, firing T-shirts into the crowd, there’s always something to keep you entertained. Each competition had at minimum $100 at stake, the maximum $1000. The contestant didn’t even succeed in the competition yet he still got the prizemoney.