Studios: Warner Bros – Paramount Pictures – Sony Pictures

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The studios of Los Angeles are quite unique. They can’t even be compared to the big studios of the UK and Bollywood in India. Every Major Studio is a tiny city with its own fire and security departments, waste management, cleaning, shops, and offices. All this system connects the main departments of the production: Art, Camera & Lighting, Costumes, Editing & Post-Production, among others. The routine of every worker inside this tiny cities includes movie stars and even rockstars.

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In the beginning of the 20th Century, the biggest studios (Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, Universal Studios, Walt Disney, y 20th Century Fox) created the MPAA (Motion Pictires Asociation of America) to protect their movies from the moral and ethic laws of those times, between other interests such as getting investors from the US. Known because of the failed SOPA and PIPA laws recently, the MPAA managed to protect the Studios till today. Though the Majors compete in the movie theaters, they actually work together to protect the system. Today, nobody makes movies in Los Angeles anymore because of the high taxes. The movie productions went to other cities of the US, such as Atlanta. A famous producer said few months ago: “only the people who want to waste money film in LA”. They only make TV shows in the studios today. Despites that, they keep the same system and magic that they always had.

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In LA, only 3 of the studios can be visited: the Warner Bros, Paramount Pictures, and Sony Pictures. They all have regular and VIP tours. The Warner has also a Deluxe tour of 7 hours where you can talk with the people working there (even with the movie stars, if you find someone). I made the VIP & Deluxe Tours, so you’re gonna have the first-hand experience of these places. I’ve seen them in this order: the Sony Pictures studios, where I saw the basics (the tour is made for quick-pictures tourism), the Warner tour, where I saw the behind-the-scenes, and Paramount. In Paramount, because we had to wait due to problems of the guide, he gave us access to forbidden places of the studios, so it was really cool. A hell of a great experience.

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This is the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, some miles away from Hollywood district. The big building is the Sony Pictures Plaza, used for sci-fi movies and series due to its futuristic and “evil” look.

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With the exception of some historical sites, most of the buildings inside the studios are very simple. That’s because the facades are changed all the time depending on what every production needs. Same case for the designs of the roads and paths. They also change the place of the offices all the time, also depending on the productions at the moment. This is the Main Street of the Sony Pictures Studios:

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The next day, I went to the Warner Bros Studios. We were only 3 in the Deluxe Tour, so it was actually a nice and different experience. We started in our VIP car:

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The VIP tours in Warner started as a way of showing the studios to the foreign executives. They then added this service to everyone who was interested in seeing them. So we first went to what they call “Bridge Building” because of its look. They often use this place to shoot New York City scenes or other cities with this kind of look, such as Hong Kong or Downtown LA.

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Most of the area of the studios are filled with the stages, big empty buildings with grills on the roof that can be almost as tall as a 10-stories building. They are prepared to be modified. In the grills, they put dozens of lights and grip engineering. Some of the stages also have big pools behind the floor, so they can be filled with water and shoot scenes with ships, like the battle scenes of 300:Rise of An Empire or the last scene of The Dark Knight Rises where Robin rises up. The stages:

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Other characteristic that distinguish the Major Studios are their fictional cities and roads. Most of them are facades of the typical american city. Though they look amazingly realistic, they are empty behind the panels of those facades. Rule number 1 of the studios: it has to be prepared to be modified. When you get close, you won’t also see lights in the streets or little details in the walls. That’s because they change all those things all the time, depending on what the Director wants for that particular production. There’s also no water or electricity in these places. They take the generators for the lights and big trucks for the water. The fake cities:

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The Art Department quite impressed me. There’s big buildings where they keep the stuff for the scenery they used on the last decades. They Art department of the Warner and other art designers can go there and choose what things they wanna rent for they productions. They go and choose from a sketchual they already have, they tell to the people working there with number of the catalog is and, in the cases of the big productions, they transport those objects in the trucks. This again shows how the Major Studios work together. It is often common to see Warner trucks in the Paramount studios or the other way around. Now, a lot of these things were for sure in a lot of famous movies. Somehow, they were in the shots of the movies you’ve seen. If you take a look closely, you’re gonna recognize them.

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And this is the moment for movies fans: the original costumes used in a lot of famous movies and series such as The Dark Knight Rises, Friends, Harry Potter, 300: Rise of an Empire, and many others. Also, the original vehicles used in very famous movies. And what I liked the most, the set where they shot Friends (it’s actually the same original set putted together in a tiny room). I’ve never actually felt so immersed like in the set of Friends. I was actually looking and touching the same stuff I see every day on the show. Quite a great experience.

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And the third tour was in the Paramount Pictures Studios, where Martin Scorsese films today. Because almost everything was explained already, these are the new things you may see in the next pictures: the blue lights in the doors who indicate when they’re shooting a scene with pools filled with water, the chat with the jewelry designer (she even showed us famous jewelry from the classic Cleopatra movie), the signboard department, the triangle where they shoot the reflections of skyscrapers, the real shooting of a True Blood scene, and the room where they keep all the tapes of the movies and series of Paramount (all of them). Enjoy!

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