Syracuse University Los Angeles Semester students get VIP tour of Warner Bros. studios

Nearly every day since coming to Los Angeles as part of the Syracuse University Los Angeles Semester (SULA) program, students have traveled past the gates of many of the city’s studios, dreaming of the day when their work will take them behind those gates. Recently, students got to visit one of the most iconic Hollywood studio lots when they took a “VIP tour” of Warner Bros.

The tour began inside a classic movie theater with red velvet seats. A video montage played on a big screen, including clips from films produced by Warner Bros. like “Inception,” “Harry Potter” and “The Shining.”

In a pre-recorded video, Ellen DeGeneres shared a history of the Warner family and highlighted some of the television shows and movies filmed on the backlot.

Next, students toured the lot via tram with a knowledgeable and charismatic tour guide named Ethan who was well-versed in Hollywood history.

About thirty students gathered for a picture at the Warner Brothers Studio
SULA Semester students prepare for a tour of the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles, CA.

Students had the opportunity to see the original fountain from the “Friends” opening credits and take photos sitting together on the legendary Central Perk couch. They also saw Lorelai and Rory Gilmore’s house from the show “Gilmore girls” and visited the set of “The Big Bang Theory” and Rick’s Cafe from in the 1942 classic film “Casablanca.” When movies and shows wrap production, many sets and other props are often destroyed, but Rick’s Cafe remains as an iconic movie landmark for Warner Bros.

Students were fascinated by the display of scripts, storyboards and interactive exhibits showcasing actor audition tapes and costume designs.

A student examines a wall of scripts and memorabilia from Warner Brothers Studios
A student takes in the memorabilia at Warner Bros.

Many students recognized the set of the show “All American,” the CW drama starring Daniel Ezra as a high school football player, which occupies one of the many sound stages. Much of that show’s drama takes place in the hallway, where actors frequently open and look into their lockers.  Students were introduced to the simple but effective technique of removing the back of a locker so a camera can shoot the actor from inside.

The house used in “All American” is an almost exact replica of a real house in Beverly Hills, down to the type of wood on the floor. Students got to see firsthand how professionals create movie magic, and the attention to detail that must be paid to a project on this scale.

Jenna Schmidt, a senior television, radio and film student, was moved by the experience.  “The sheer size of the lot was crazy to me. It was almost overwhelming,” Schmidt says. “The sound stages and equipment are unlike anything I’ve ever seen or experienced working on student productions.”

The last stop on  the tour was dedicated to Harry Potter and DC Comics universe characters. Aside from seeing the Batmobile up close, students got to experience different activities in each of the Potter sets, such as wand choreography, fight training and potion making.

Just before exiting the tour, everyone was allowed to take a picture with an actual Oscar Award from 1935. The group left Warner Bros. as tourists, but many were anticipating the day when they will return there to work as creatives.

Owen Hananel is a senior in the television, radio and film program. Robin Howard is the director of the Syracuse University Los Angeles Semester.