Friday, February 3, 2012

Iconic LA: What Makes Los Angeles Los Angeles

DRIVING AROUND the city of Los Angeles makes you wonder about the identity behind all of the traffic signals and brake lights. What really give Los Angeles its character are those individuals who are not from LA. The adults with childish eyes who wake up every morning in their small town with open ended dreams of becoming famous, of Hollywood. The movies have given LA a leading role in a multitude of films that have changed the lives of many stargazed dreamers forever. Being one of these dreamers myself, I only thought of LA in terms of the movies, celebrities and the magic that consumes Los Angeles.

Sony Pictures is, for many, a place where magic happens, magic of the movies, where imagination and stories come to life. I remember the first time I walked down the Main Street of Sony. Small fifties style shops with old Hollywood style costumes fill the walkway with posters of the latest films, even a gift shop or two, line each side of the street in an attempt to keep the authenticity of the true movie industry alive, while still incorporating some of the more recent necessities like Yogurt Land and Coffee Bean. People bustle along each side of the street as the magic that once was Hollywood encapsulates every being. You can feel the glitter in the air as you glance around trying to take all the magic in. As you come to the end of Main Street, a skyline of sound stages enclose you away from the rest of the crazed world outside.

A city within a city, Sony Pictures resides at 10202 West Washington Boulevard and has been there since 1915 when, according to Sony Studios Tours, Hary Culver, the founding father of Culver City moved his own production studio to this legendary place. Although that is where the history began, it continued in the name of MGM Studios starting in 1924. The Golden Age of Hollywood thrived within the realm of the sound stages on Washington Boulevard, as MGM was responsible for some of the greatest films like Gone With the Wind, Ben-Hur, and The Wizard of OZ. Films like these and many more changed the lives of Americans just as they forever changed the industry. The sparkles that twinkle in the wind between every alleyway throughout the lot are there because of those who brought their talents together and brought the Oscars, the imagination, and the glitter to the street of Sony Pictures. The origin of the magic resides within in every nook and cranny of this cramped little town.

As you continue to walk through the lot, through the history, the sound stages begin to enter into the background, while before you stand an army of trailers, withholding some brilliant and some not so brilliant actors of our time. Behind you, you hear a booming voice say, “Quiet on the set.” And you turn around to watch, star struck, as a stunt double scales down flights of stairs on a fake New York apartment building set. The camera crew, lifted by crane fifty feet in the air, captures the scene through their viewfinder. Similarly, you capture the enchantment through your own eyes.

While you walk through the lot, you are forced to look up at the booming stages and only come back to reality as a golf cart zooms past nearly clipping your leg. Men in jeans and construction boots ride their bicycles back and forth gathering all the equipment in order to build the imagination that comes to life within the realm of the plain warehouse. While walking through the maze of buildings, golf carts, bicycles and construction equipment, you finally realize that you can be anywhere you want right now. You look into a sound stage and are transported to another world, a doctor’s office, a hotel room in Maui, or even a million dollar mansion. You can be anything or anywhere you want to be and you can feel the laugher of those that have come before us. You feel the present as a creation of the past.

Behind all of the technical equipment, contracts and business, at the end of the day, this is what so many hope-to-be-Angelos dream to experience. This is the character that LA has become and she has fantastically held the leading role in so many of the histories most memorable scenes. She is the giver of dreams to so many hopeless romantics.

She is Los Angeles.

-- Elise Fornaca

photo: backlot at sony pictures, culver city
credit: puck90 via flickr creative commons

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