Monday, September 3, 2012

After Hours in Downtown - and a pilgrimage to Warners...

It's the Labor Day weekend here so while everyone else is on a go-slow, I'm taking the time to work on my scripts. I don't want anything going out that's just okay - it has to be great. Not just great, amazing.

As a lot of people said to me over the last week, you only get one chance here to make a good impression.

Also, next week is where the real work begins. I have 3 scripts, now what? I do have some leads to follow, agent/manager-wise, but this is very much a learning curve for me. Still, it's what I came here to do. You can write commercial scripts anywhere, but you can only really sell 'em here!

I've seen two more movies since my last post - Killer Joe and Lawless, the latter of which I want to talk more about in another post - been to Warner Bros. (!) and ventured Downtown.

Warners is way out in Burbank and to get there, you have to head up into the Hollywood Hills, over the crest of Mulholland Drive and drive down into the Valley. As in, Valley Girls. Two Days in the Valley. That place.

I made it onto the Warners' backlot only because a friend of mine works in sound and used to work on several Warners shows including Friends and The West Wing. He called in a favour and got us both past the security gate.

Once you're past it, you can walk around pretty freely. We toured around sound stages, saw the Mike and Molly set and another for a new show called Partners. Passed the Two and a Half Men star trailers and had lunch at the Warners commissary (basically a big cafeteria, only with very nice food).

But the best part was the sets! I can't insert pics here (thanks Wordpress!) but here are some I took:

Walking down the streets of an empty town (or standing on the courthouse steps where Frank Sinatra once sang My Kind of Town) was really cool. Seeing the Warners water tower brought back memories of a misspent childhood watching Animaniacs.

When you go to somewhere like Warners, it really hits you that this is an INDUSTRY, in a way that it just doesn't in a lot of other countries. We passed huge warehouses designated only for one area of work ("Grips!" "Sound!") There were people everywhere, hammering set walls, moving camera equipment around in trucks. The sound warehouse contained aisle after aisle of the kind of equipment that any sound recordist back home would give their right arm to use. People go to work and make a living every day making movies. It was great to see it in action. Thanks to Chuck F for getting me past the gate!

Last night I did two new things: I took the subway and I braved Downtown to attend a friend's birthday party at a bar. I met a lady last week who's lived here 25 years and claims to have NEVER been to Downtown. She made it sound like a crack-zombie Apocalypse kind of place.

She's crazy - it's not THAT bad. First of all, the public transport system here is relatively clean and efficient and really cheap (it's one dollar fifty for a one way trip on any bus or subway, even  for what seem like very long distances).

However. The buses only go to certain places and seem to go off early. The subway only goes to North Hollywood and Downtown, and it's impossible (literally) to understand how to buy a ticket when you get there. Seriously, me and three nice ladies from out of town would still be at Hollywood and Vine staring at the ticket machine if an L.A. native hadn't helped us out.

Anyway, I finally made it onto the subway and got off at 7th Street. At this stage, I'd been travelling for an hour. I only had to walk about four blocks to get to the party, but along the way I started to feel like Griffin Dunne in After Hours. Like I was never going to get there.

Downtown is one of the oldest parts of L.A. (maybe the oldest), and the endless dark streets of high buildings, plus the weird planning (one minute you're outside a super cool bar, the next you're passing the world's dodgiest-looking kebab shop), starts to seem oppressive after a while. Then there's the guys at every corner who look like they've had challenging lives, yelling, "Baby, can I come along?". I began to fantasise about saying, "Yes! Bring your friends, we're going to a bar!" and seeing what the bouncer would say when we rocked up.

I sound like I hated Downtown. I didn't - I'll be back (but during the day so I can see more stuff. The Bradbury building is down there, for instance). It has some great bars and it's less "sceney" than Hollywood. Overall, I'd take it over Clondalkin any day.

Hard to believe that I'm into my third week in L.A. tomorrow. It's flown by...

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