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A group of A Level Film Studies students enjoyed a trip of a lifetime during a week-long trip to Los Angeles, touring the Hollywood studios. Staying in the legendary Sportsmen’s Lodge in LA’s Media City, they were intrigued by what they saw on the backlot tours at the Sony, Warner Bros, Paramount and Universal studios. 

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Eighteen year old student Ella Brewin (formerly of Huntington School) was amazed by the efficiency of the Hollywood studio system and how filmmakers create the illusion of the great outdoors in a back-lot. She said: “They don’t waste anything – they showed us a little pond which they used for the North Atlantic!  And, at Paramount Studios they have a giant wall painted like the sky, because the LA sky is too blue, it looks fake on screen. The studios also recreate whole city blocks on a backlot –giant facades made of wood or brick are covered with wallpaper to create different buildings. They will do a scene, and when they’ve finished they’ll take the wallpaper off, staple a new one up, and it becomes a totally different building.”

Ella’s seventeen year old sister Lili went on the trip too. She said: “It was the trip of lifetime, I will never forget it.”

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Aside from learning about the film-maker’s art and the ‘Hollywood style’, students loved sitting on the famous ‘Friends’ sofa and walking down the Desperate Housewives street. They also bumped into James Corden who was filming for his Late Late Show and got a wave from Glee star Lauren Potter!

Student Harry Blackburn (formerly of Canon Lee Specialist Arts College) hopes to become a screenwriter. He says: “I had a great time in LA. It was really cool seeing the vehicles from Ghostbusters and Breaking Bad. I could not believe how small the sets were, they were no roofs, so they could be lit properly and move cameras around, creating clever angles to make them seem real.”

Student Terence Smith (formerly of Holy Family Catholic High School, Goole) said: “It’s a massive process, not just one man and his camera – they have people employed just to paint windows!. It was a great learning experience – I learned so much.”

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For the last nine years Programme Leader Neil Smith has taken his students to Hollywood - he never tires of the buzz students’ get from the experience. He comments: “The trip develops their knowledge of the Hollywood studios and informs their appreciation of the studio system, which helps them in examinations. It’s a trip of a lifetime, especially for students who wish to study the subject at university, as well as work in the industry.”

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