All posts by c_liang


It’s a staple of Los Angeles, and it’s not even in the city. The Hollywood sign is a landmark and a place that every person who goes to Los Angeles should visit. For us at the Oakwood, the Hollywood sign is a quick hour and a half hike straight uphill.

The Hollywood sign is situated on top of Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills.  The sign overlooks downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, and from the tip of Mount Lee, you can see for miles.  When the sign was first built in 1923, it originally read HOLLYWOODLAND, and was an advertising stunt for the new houses being built in the area.  The sign was designed for each letter to be 30 feet wide and 50 feet high, and cost around $21,000 — or $300,000 2014 U.S. dollars.  There were light bulbs on the original sign that would light up the letters. The sign was only to be erected for a year and a half, but as Hollywood entered its Golden Age, the sign remained and has been a staple of Los Angeles ever since.

Hollywoodland-LD2-e1356078426374 The original sign

The sign has had multiple alterations; many times the letters were used to create words that were relevant to a time in Hollywood.  The sign has read: HOLLYWeeD (1976), HOLYWOOD (1977), GO NAVY (1983), RAFFEYSOD  (1985), FOX (1987), CALTECH (1987), OLLYWOOD (1987), HOLYWOOD (1987), OIL WAR (1991), Perotwood (1992), GO UCLA (1993), JOLLYGOOD (2000), and SAVE THE PEAK (2010).  These different alterations to the original sign were for different purposes, and refer to events that happened locally or nationally.

Hollyweed Hollyweed

I decided to make the hike up to the sign, and after getting lost a couple of times, I finally reached the summit of Mount Lee. The view was amazing.  Looking out across Los Angeles, you can see out to the beaches and the mountains,  and behind you is Burbank, which is an incredible view in itself.  It took me a long time to hike up, but looking at the letters that are 45 feet tall and made of just sheet metal, it is incredible the shape that they are in and the fact that they are made of merely sheet metal is amazing.  I would recommend the hike, if not for the letters, than for the view of Los Angeles and Burbank.

IMG_0523 Behind the Letters

Welcome to the DGA

Getting to the Directors Guild of America can be long and arduous, and no, I am not speaking about the traffic on Sunset Boulevard where the DGA national headquarters is located.

DGA National Headquarters

The DGA is a prestigious institution that acts as a union for Directors and their teams, along with providing opportunities for directors to show their films to educated audiences.  The DGA was formed in 1936 as the Screen Directors Guild; the name changed in 1960 to the now Directors Guild of America.  The DGA has been headed by many famous directors over the years, including King Vidor, Arther Hiller, and Martha Coolidge.  Along with pictures and archives of some of Hollywood’s greatest films, there is a large screening room where films are screened and awards shows are held.  

6a00d83453b09469e2017ee7551ae4970d DGA Movie Theatre

Our class was invited to a screening at the DGA in L.A., where we saw William Friedkin’s lesser known Sorcerer (1977). I say lesser only because when the film premiered, it was supposed to have similar success to that of The Exorcist (1973), Friedkin’s monumental horror hit.  However, a little film by the name of Star Wars happened to be premiering one week later, and it seemed the public was more interested in seeing that than Sorcerer.  Nevertheless, our class watched Roy Schneider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, and Amidou take the trucks filled with Nitroglycerin across South America, we watched the infamous bridge scene were the trucks nearly fell off, and finally we watched a tree get blown up that cleared the road to allow the trucks to continue on their journey.  The film was riveting, stressful, and brilliant, definitely worth watching if a William Friedkin fan.

In addition to watching this incredible movie, William Friedkin himself answered questions after the screening.  This was a real treat to all of us, especially because we got to listen to the thought process behind Sorcerer and the decisions Friedkin made while making the film.  We got to hear the comedic genius that William Friedkin really is, and the stories he told were unforgettable.  (Many of which can be found if you google long enough).

IMG_0362We salute you Mr. Friedkin!