Thursday, July 21, 2011

L.A. Trip Four

While Viscera was the reason I was in L.A., it wasn't my only plan. I stayed a few extra days because the wonderful Mr. Eddie Izzard was going to be playing the Hollywood Bowl and being the huge Monty Python nerd that I am (does that surprise you?), I knew I had to go! He's practically a Python anyway! But that wasn't until yesterday. I still have two and a half days to talk about.

I made plans this day to hang out with Brenda and Lis Fies, the directors of BleedFest. We had lunch at Buddha's Belly in West Hollywood (I can say that's where I was staying since I'm not there anymore) and then we decided to check out the Tim Burton exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, colloquially known as LACMA. It's amazing; the collection of work spans pretty much his entire creative career. If you're in L.A. before the exhibit is over (which is Halloween), I highly recommend going!

The only thing that made me sad was that we couldn't take pictures of the exhibits. I understand why, but these things are far too cool...I really wanted an image of the small collection of Jack Skellington heads. I'm not as into The Nightmare Before Christmas as my fellow Goths, but I do love it. And some of his Polaroid series images are heartstoppingly gorgeous. But there are no prints or anything available in the gift least, not from anything I really liked. Even the exhibit poster, which features an image from the fantastic short Vincent, was kind of lackluster. I got a couple of magnets that happen to be two of my favourite pieces, at least, and an Alice in Wonderland sticker book.

Lis and Brenda had to leave early to do some errands so when I was finished gawking at the products of Burton's wonderful mind, I decided to do something far out and I grabbed the bus to the Santa Monica Pier. I thought it was where're they filmed The Lost Boys, but I have since discovered that I was wrong, they filmed at the Santa Cruz amusement park. While it's small, the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park do have a Lost Boys flavor to it. Should I ever make it to the San Francisco area, I'll have to go!

There was at least one notable thing about the Santa Monica pier: it marks the end point of the famed Route 66, where one could apparently get their kicks.

After I got back to West Hollywood, I got something to eat and called it an early night.


I had made plans to meet up with an actress for coffee around one. I spent most of the morning looking at things to do and writing down directions to take the bus to Disneyland the next day, if I decided to do that, so most of the day slipped away from me while I waited for her. And she was running late. Hours late.

While it was fairly irksome to have spent most of the day waiting, I understand that things happen.

I decided that since most of the day was gone, that I would do something at night. My choice? A movie at the famous Graumann's Chinese theatre. It was a half hour bus ride away from my hotel. Not a big deal at all! And, the bus let out right in front of where I was staying, too, so I felt a little more confident in riding the bus at night.

I hopped on the bus and then discovered that Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off. What? Why? Once I navigated the detour and got to Hollywood and highland, I saw why: the Captain America premiere was at the El Capitan which is right across from Graumann's. They'd roped off a block to accommodate all of the limos for the stars.

Lis Fies was kind enough to join me, but we said we'd meet there. I let her know right away about the traffic issues and told her that one of the side streets was open. Then I went and bought our tickets.

Traffic was a nightmare, of course, and I had to switch our time to a later show, but we got in and I was so excited! It wasn't the main theatre, that was reserved for another screening of Captain America for all of those who weren't important enough for the El Capitan.

The seats are nice and comfy and I like the way they let you into the theatre. I wish there had been more leg room, but it's all good. It was also my first time seeing a masking system that goes up and down! Alright, it's show time! The lights go down! The film starts!

What the hell?

Let me preface the following by informing you, dear reader, that I was a projectionist for a big theatre chain, one that prides itself on their presentation. And my former direct boss was very careful about our own presentation.

This was one of the worst digital presentations I've ever seen. The sound was phenomenal, but the visual aspect...oh my God. I would be embarrassed if I were a projectionist here. The screen was filthy. The digital bulb flickered. And the image was badly distorted by the worst keystoning I've ever seen on a digital system that had been there for a long time. If I hadn't liked their staff so much, I would've complained right then and there. I decided to wait until I was home and on a real computer to write them a letter.

It was so bad that I texted both my former boss and the boss of the theatre proper to snicker at the lack of care taken in the presentation of a movie in HOLLYWOOD. They're making the idea of direct-to-video look better and better if that's the kind of quality I can expect from movie houses in L.A.


I'd made tentative plans with some transplants to L.A. and decided to not have a repeat of the day before so we talked, they said they'd call back, and I went about my business. I decided to not go to Disneyland, but I decided that the Warner Bros. Tour sounded like fun so I hopped a couple of buses and headed to Burbank. I hadn't heard from my friends until it was almost time to go on my tour (we first talked around 11 in the morning and my tour started at 2:20), but they lived in Burbank so it was all good.

I have mixed feelings about Warner Brothers. They have the best short format cartoons (Looney Tunes, baby!) and a lot of my favourite movies, but they dissolved New Line as an independent studio and cancelled Just the Ten of Us to appease Miller-Boyette and their terrible shows.

The tour was pretty cool, somewhat typical of what you'd think a studio tour would be like during the summer hiatus. They took photos of everyone in the car museum (I'll share mine when I get home) and during the tour, the guide asked young girl and one other person to "volunteer" to explain how a one hour drama is made. Guess who he picked.

Me. The filmmaker.

He said they only did three set ups per scene and then proceeded to say that they shot a close two shot, medium two shot, and long two shot. I made a face and he looked at me like, "What?"

"Umm...they do the master and then close-ups." Blank look. "I'm a filmmaker."

Then he said that he wasn't done and then clarified that they do nine set-ups, three per shot. Seems like a huge waste of money to me. Isn't that what pre-viz is for? During the rest of the tour of the set of Pretty Little Liars (damn kids, get off my lawn), he kept checking with me to see if he was right.

I didn't mean to hijack your tour, dude, but I didn't want you to give people what I thought was bad information either.

Also on the tour was a tour of the costume museum which had a section dedicated to Harry Potter. Other than a crystal ball, there was nothing Emma Thompson related, but the sorting hat put me in Slytherin! I'm not ruthless. I have ruth. I think I'm more Ravenclaw than the rest, but I LOVE the Slytherin house colours... :D

At the end of the tour, I asked the guide if he knew which soundstage housed Just the Ten of Us. I got that blank look again. Poor guy. He said it may have been shot at the Ranch since he'd never heard it referenced around the studio.

After that, I. Met up with my friends and hung out for a little while, but I had a ticket to see Eddie Izzard. My friend kindly braved the Highland Avenue traffic to take me to the Hollywood Bowl. If I'd had to park, I would've been late, but in reality, I was right on time and the show started about fifteen minutes after I arrived.

He killed it! He was all about the Pythons having played there (and later said that Eric Idle was there! ZOMG!) and referenced them a couple of times. The majority of the act seemed different from when I saw him in Tampa a few years ago. A little tighter, in that Izzard kind of way, even though the topics were the same. Great, great show and more than worth the price of admission. And, I got to replace my Izzard shirt which I bought a hundred pounds ago! Yay!

After that, I rode the bus back to the hotel and got some sleep!


I know it's Comic Con weekend up in San Diego, but I'm heading home with plans to come to next year's event (I can't talk about that yet, you know how things go, but I can tease it!) but I leave with memories of another fantastic trip to L.A. There were a few things that didn't happen or that I didn't get to do, but that just means I'll have to come back!

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