Friday, August 03, 2012

Happy Birthday to me.

It was a great one. My mom came to visit during my birthday, and we had a really fun time, hanging out watching the Olympics, eating at Olive and Thyme, going on the Warner Bros. VIP tour where we had our picture taken on the Friend's Central Perk set and on my actual birthday, going to see The Dark Knight Rises, which was fantastic, then hitting up Olive and Thyme once again for their burger night. I think we went a total of three times to O & T while she was here. They are an excellent bistro/cafe right down the street and a favorite of the studios, so my mom got to see a full lunch hour in swing. They really do a swift business,  managing a very busy lunch crowd, but always have superb teas, food and excellent service. At night, they have a dinner menu and burger nights on Fridays. I took both my dad and mom for that when they each visited. They are busy then too, which is good, because it means they'll be staying.

The day before my birthday, we took the Warner Bros. VIP tour. I've lived across the street from Warner Bros. Studios for five years, and had never been on the tour. My next door neighbor is a tour guide and was kind enough to arrange tickets for us at her employee discount. We saw her there, and it was fun to see her at work. We'd occasionally pass her on her tour. Just a note, those people work their butts off.

I worked at Warner Bros. my first year back in Los Angeles as a proofreader for theatrical key art and DVD packaging, and still, I didn't take the tour. The building where I worked had a Starbucks in it, and the tours actually took off from that area. I'd go down to get coffee, maneuvering through the throngs of visitors from all over the world, and during trips to the commissary, frequently saw the trolleys going by filled with tourists, but this time I just had a great time being one. I didn't mention to a soul on our tour that I was a local so that I could just enjoy and learn. And, it was a good tactic. As I listened, I was just incredulous at what went on across the street. Sure, I know there's a major movie studio across the way from me, but I tend to normalize it and forget about the incredible visual and artistic feats that are taking place a stone's throw away as I sit eating dinner, watching television, writing a new blog entry, creating a new collage, listening to an audio book or all the things one does at home. Or, that as I'm sleeping in late one morning, that a tiger is being driven into the studio to film the hotel scene from "The Hangover." I think that story, of the tiger, is when it hit me how much goes on over there. And, how much coordination, human cooperation and skills are involved.

I was also amazed to learn how many iconic scenes in movies have been filmed in Stage 16, the largest sound stage at Warner Bros. and one of the tallest in the world. This pivotal scene from "Inception" where Saito's mansion is flooded was filmed there:

This was done entirely on that stage, along with real water. Just click to bypass the ad. After that, it's the entire scene in glorious hi-res. I lived here when this was filmed, so that's pretty cool to think this was going on, well, right across the street.

My next door neighbor told me of these other scenes that were filmed on Soundstage 16. You may just recognize a few:

Jurassic Park - The terrifying first encounter with the T-Rex. And the scene where the Jeep is falling through the tree toward Sam Neill and Joseph Mazzello.

The Goonies - The pirate ship. This is an excellent article, with pics and the history of the production of The Goonies, including a mention of Stage 16 and how they kept the ship hidden from the kids until shooting.

Ocean's 13 - The three-story Bank Casino was built entirely on Stage 16. Here, producer Jerry Weintraub gives a short tour of the casino, and you can really see the massive scale and detail put into building this set.

And, this iconic scene from Rebel Without a Cause.

As well as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man scene from Ghostbusters:

Other sets include, J. Edgar Hoover's FBI Building in J. Edgar, the upside-down Ballroom in Poseidon, and the storm scene in The Perfect Storm. Get the idea? A lot of cool stuff was filmed there. If you are interested in learning more of the films that had scenes shot on Stage 16, go here:

And, for a wonderful blog post on Stage 16, with pictures, from Dear Old Hollywood , go here.

Me with the Tumbler from The Dark Knight RisesThe Picture Car Museum was also fantastic. This is me by the Tumbler from The Dark Knight Rises. And yes, they come in black.

They also have a costume museum, with an incredible collection of costumes from classic films, (Bette Davis had one tiny waist!) up unto the present, where they had Batman's entire ensemble from The Dark Knight Rises, (in the plexiglass case), weapons and all. The entire 2nd floor is dedicated to the Harry Potter films, where my mom and I both took turns under the sorting hat. She was sorted into Harry Potter's alma mater, the Gryffindor House, yours truly got sorted into the Slytherin House.  Not even a hesitation, just the proclamation of "Slytherin!" the second I sat on the stool. Another woman, who was the mother of a couple of two adorably excited teenage girls, also got sorted into Slytherin. At the end of the tour, she and I were the only two people that tipped our guide.

What can I say? We Slytherins know how to grease a palm.


Kacey said...

Happy Birthday, fellow Leo! <3 Glad it was such an enjoyable one.

Anne said...

Thank you so much Kacey! Hope you had a great one as well, Leo. :)

Adrasteia said...

What a wonderful birthday you had! That tour sounds amazing. I wonder if all the Harry Potter stuff that was on a traveling exhibit up here in Seattle at the Science Center finally settled down for good where you saw it. Did you get to see the great hall with all the hanging candles and sit in Hagrid's chair?

Happy birthday, lady!