Prior to leaving on my final day in Los Angeles, I went to the Warner Brothers VIP Studio Tour in Burbank, California. More specifically, I signed up for the 5-hour Deluxe version of the studio tour at a cost of $150.00. Only 10-people are allowed in a Deluxe Tour. This followed my Sony Pictures Studios Tour the day before.
Because I am in the publishing industry where I deal with Internet, print, audio and video media, this was an easily justifiable business expense. Without question I am a movie buff but I was very much there for educational reasons. I looked at this tour as a one-day seminar of how the “big boys” create these multi-million dollar productions.
This tour begins with a 15-minute retrospective of the origins of Warner Brothers. There literally were 4 brothers with the last name Warner. These brothers originally began in the East Coast with their movie theatre business . And then they decided they might be able to make more money if they were able to also create and produce their own movies to show in their own theatres. Clearly, that was the beginning of a legacy which has lasted to this day.
The Warner Brothers exterior sets were more extensive and impressive than Sony Pictures. In fact, the WB lot is so large, we were taken around in a cart by the tour guide. Our tour guide was clearly passionate about his job and it showed. However, I did think he was a bit regimented in that it was very difficult to ask questions. You would think that in this longer tour, there would be ample opportunity to ask questions but that was frequently not the case. He was clearly in charge of the group and rattled off trivia after trivia as we visited various sets.
One of the most impressive sets I have ever seen is the Chicago set used by the producers of E.R. E.R. is a long-runnning medical drama. I am not a big fan but I have seen a few episodes of it. The exterior sets of E.R. is very impressive for the detail that was put into it. Although the sets have been around 12+ years, they looked like they had been around for 50 years with considerable wear and tear having that aged, filthy, back-alley look in Chicago. Even up close, it was difficult to tell that these sets were artificially aged and worn. The authentic look was simply amazing.
The set also had the back entrance to the E.R. hospital where ambulances roll in patients. That set was also amazing. It really looked like a hospital E.R entrance with the wear and tear of one.
Being a fan of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, we had the chance to see the actual sets of where the characters live. We even see the scars in the street as a result of the explosion in the season finale.
We passed by the exterior sets of Uncle Jesse’s and Boss Hoggs’ home from Dukes of Hazzard. In the TV show, they were two different buildings in two different locations. In actuality, they are the same building! One is filmed from the front, the other from the rear. Again, move movie magic.
We went through an exterior set of a suburban neighborhood which actually had office workers in each of the houses. When you are walking in those sets, it really does feel like you are in a suburban neighborhood, not a movie set on a movie lot.
We eventually broke for lunch. End of Part 1.