I am a film and TV addict! I love everything about the art of making film and television. I myself would love to be a screen writer.
Hollywood, as everyone would know is the destination for films and television. The studios, the celebrities, the red carpets, the Hollywood sign and the stereotype dream of making it in Hollywood.
As a dreamer and a lover of the industry, I didn’t get around to doing much of studio tours when I first went in 2004 except for Universal Studios that was the only real film related thing we did. But when I went for the second time with a group tour, this included going to Paramount Pictures and then when I finished with the tour, I got to go to the Warner Brothers Studios. I loved every moment, I even when back and did them again in 2015 with my friend, we even shelled out a bit of cash to do the Universal Studios V.I.P tour.
So if you are a film and television fan, here is a list of the locations that are a must visit:
The Hollywood Sign, Hollywood Walk of fame and the Gruaman’s Chinese Theatre:
- Hollywood walk of fame and the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is pretty much the first real in your face interaction with Hollywood. These three icons are the ones that people associate Hollywood with. Get your photo taken with your favourite star (see what I did there? Because the walk of fame are stars….sorry) on the walk of fame.
- Go to the 3rd level of the Hollywood and Highland shopping Centre to get a good view of the Hollywood sign unless the LA smog has over taken it, make sure it’s a clear day. Also, don’t try to get close to the sign, there are police guarding it, just admire it from afar.
- Gruaman’s Chinese Theatre, get photos of celebrities imprinted hands and feet with a little signature and a little note to Sid Grauman who is the created the theatre. But don’t take photos of the people who are dressing up as random character, unless you are willing to pay. Just wait till you go to Disneyland and Universal Studios to take photo’s with characters, also there will be a lot of aspiring rappers handing out CD’s they kind of shove it in your hands, you can get one or try and give it back if you don’t want it, but be warned they get pretty cranky, just keep walking unless you actually do want one. Fun fact, there is a Grauman Egyptian Theatre as well, it was created in 1922, before the Chinese Theatre which was created in 1926 and opened in 1927. The Grauman’s Chinese theatre holds a lot of red carpet events, when I say a lot, I mean A LOT! I was so excited to see my first few, but then I didn’t bother staying for some other’s because there were too many to see.
Hollywood & Highland Shopping Centre and the Dolby Theatre:
- Hollywood Highland may seem like just a shopping centre to most, but to me, I found great inspiration and even some history. As you walk on the outside court with the fountain, you will find on the ground are quotes and sayings from anonymous and some well know celebrities of the past, some of these are quite inspirational.
The history, when you walk inside, look just above you at the pillars, you will see there are signs with a year and a film under the year, these are the Academy Award winning films of that year, so check out your birth year and see what won that year! My year was 1992 and the winner was “Silence of the Lambs”. They will also sometimes have signings of actors, but I have only seen that once, there was an actor signing autographs for a movie called “Manny” which was having it’s film premier that night at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
- The Dolby theatre, formerly known as the Kodak theatre until Dolby took over in 2012 after Kodak went bankrupt. Have you heard of the Dolby Theatre? Well you should have unless you don’t know too much about the Academy Awards. This is where the Oscar’s are held, you can take a tour that goes for about 20 minutes and cost’s USD$17 which you can get on the ground floor (one level lower than the public tour entrance). If you are a fan of the Oscar’s I recommend this tour, it’s pretty cool to see the inside and see all the sparkling Swarovski crystals and the little bar room that hold a few Oscars that a behind glass windows. I recommend this tour, you get a bit of a pixelated post card of the inside as you are not allowed to take photos, but it’s still a little thing to keep for memories.
Some studios have opened their doors to the public for studio tours I have been on 3 myself, would like to do others such as Sony Studios. The following Studios, I have toured;
- Universal Studio’s LA V.I.P. Tour
My friend and I shelled out the money to go and do the Universal Studio’s V.I.P tour which costs USD$300. That is currently AUD$421.50, a lot of money, BUT you do get the full back lot tour, more that you do doing the normal back lot tour, and you get a guide who will take you in front of the line for some rides and will even mind your bags so you don’t have to check them each time, you get breakfast (which we didn’t know till we go there, but we still had a few pieces of fruit and a couple bottles of water) and a provided lunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed this tour; I would recommend if you love doing studio tours or would like to see more of the back lot Universal Studio’s. Save up for it, it’s a good once in a life time experience.
You get to see the costume department, the props department, the woodworking that make the sets department and you get a chance to walk around some of the sets, e.g. HILL VALLEY from Back to the Future! (I fan girled badly as Back to the Future is my favourite film Trilogy)
Book your tickets at http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/ and if you don’t want the V.I.P tour, you can also book your park entry ticket or the Front of the Line ticket on the website.
- Warner Brother’s Studio’s Deluxe Tour
I have been on the Warner Brother’s Deluxe (there is also a V.I.P tour which is half of the Deluxe tour) tour twice once with my mum and once with my friend. I absolutely love this tour, it is my favourite. My friend preferred the Universal one, but it comes down to taste in films and what films you recognise, some of my favourite films and television shows are filmed in Warner Brother’s, so that’s why I have loved this tour over and over, plus I had the same tour guy, Tom from Group D (there are 4 groups that go on the tour), who just knows his stuff, he is fantastic, you can tell he has a strong passion working at WB Studio’s. Warner Brother’s is the most active studio I have seen, Universal is to, but they use more sound stages than WB, when you do the tour you are escorted around in a cart for 5 hours, but you do get a chance to walk around the studio lots as well.
Both WB tours I have been on, I have seen something different, when I first went my mum and I fan girled over seeing them film Hart of Dixie as we loved that show and then the next time, they transformed Blue Bell Alabama to Rosewood, Pennsylvania for the show Pretty Little Liars. There were some of the same lots that I had seen before, but they were doing a production for another television show or film, which made it exciting. At 12pm we have lunch at the WB restaurant, I actually saw Octavia Spencer eating lunch with someone and allegedly Simon Baker (my mum swears that Simon Baker was sitting behind her because it sounded like him and he was talking about Australia, also the Mentalist is filmed in WB).
I absolutely recommend this tour, as I said, I did the Deluxe Tour, this is 5 hours with lunch, and if you do it on a Thursday, you can have lunch with the Warner Brother’s Grand Daughter who is so lovely and interesting, but there is also a V.I.P tour if you don’t have 5 hours, this tour only goes for 2 hours. The Deluxe tour USE to be USD$250, but I just looked at the website today, to confirm the prices, the Deluxe Tour has gone up in price, which is now USD$269 and the V.I.P Tour is USD$62, you can go to http://www.wbstudiotour.com/ to book your tours, which is advised to book up to 3 months in advance, especially the Deluxe Tour! If you get Tom, say hi to Tom and treat him well, because he is amazing!
Oh and I didn’t mention, but you get to hold a REAL Academy Award.
- Paramount Studio’s
Paramount Studios was a very historical experience, this one I will treasure a lot. I did two this tour twice in 2013, once with a group tour I was with and the second time with my mum, poor mum, she was waiting in line to buy some a bottle of water and these producers and directors flashed the “I am important because I am a director/producer card” and mum didn’t get enough time to look around the shop because the shop was closing earlier on the Saturday, it closed at 12pm, but other than that the tours we did were great. Mum preferred the Warner Brother’s tour, I did as well, but you can really appreciate this tour and its history.
My first Paramount tour with my group was actually better than when I was with mum, I went during the week for this one, we didn’t get to go on any studio sets except one, but Heather, our guide, she was a Film Historian in training, she showed us the writer’s houses and gave us a full rich history tour of the place. Plus we got to see LL COOL J. The second tour I did with my mum, we had a different guide and I think she wanted to be an actress, but she showed us a lot of the new stuff, not much history, but more newer films and television shows that had just begun filming or where the new shows on Nickelodeon. When I was with mum, went on a Saturday, so we got to see a lot more sound stages. Weekdays and Weekends both an advantage and a disadvantage, weekdays you have a strong chance of seeing someone famous and see actual working (depending how closed set they are) stages, whereas on the weekend, you will get to see a lot more of the sound stages.
Fun Fact: Paramount Studio’s is the ONLY Studio in Hollywood that has a view of the Hollywood Sign. You can see just above Stage 4 when you go.
I only went on the 2 hour tour, that’s all I had time for and the group one, they booked it for me, that cost USD$55, there is a V.I.P Tour that goes for 4.5hours that costs USD$175 and there is an After Dark tour which goes for 2.5 hours and costs USD$78 – too book these tours you can head to http://www.paramountstudiotour.com/
Lastly, go see a live taped show!
Television is a wonderful source of entertainment! You hear that laugh track in the background, which can be a bit annoying at times, but you still want to be a part of it! A fun time filler is to go and see a live show, whether is be the Big Bang Theory, Two Broke Girls or some live Talk shows such as Conan O’Brien or Jimmy Kimmel or Ellen DeGeneres, you can try your luck at getting tickets which will make you re watch episodes over and over again to get excited! I missed out on Ellen DeGeneres tickets (my friend was relieved as she didn’t want to endure the psychotic screaming, to be honest, I wouldn’t like to get a headache from people screaming) so we tried our luck at getting tickets to the Conan O’Brien show, we were lucky to get them!
The process was a little odd, but efficient, we had to get there early to line up with our tickets at the Warner Brother’s car park (yes inside a car park???) then wait for our numbers to be called, it was like a lottery. Even when you get your tickets, you are not guaranteed to get in, you have to make sure you are on time, or earlier (which I made sure we were!) to secure tickets. Conan was actually doing two shows, one after the other, we got the first show which was cool and then we could buy merch after being approved of our tickets. We had a few hours to kill before going to the show, so my friend and I decided to catch a taxi and head to the Universal City walk to go to my favourite restaurant, Bubba Gumps. When we were done, we headed back and were ready to line up; we were escorted across, in a row like we were in school, and then taken to a waiting area where they were showing funny clips of the show. After some time they came back out and had us come in group by group.
Waiting for the show, I was so excited! Unfortunately I had a bit of a cold (thank you to my friend….grrr…) whenever I laughed I started coughing, but it was all good, you could barely hear it. The guest’s were the full cast of Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the musical guest ‘Deer Tick’ (They were not too bad…), plus we got to see the first view of Conan in Cuba before the episode, I think they were testing it on us to see our reaction, we were all in stitches, I could see Conan a bit anxious, then happy when we were all responding positive.
How much for television show tickets? FREE! They want people to come to their shows so they have it free! But it’s the lottery that gets you! You need to be quick! Make sure you check when they say too on the website. Here are some links to websites for shows to go and see: http://teamcoco.com/tickets ; http://www.ellentv.com/tickets/ ; http://1iota.com/Tickets ; http://tvtickets.com/
All photo’s used were taken by me