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Thank you!

Many thanks to some of the many amazing guides, filmmakers, scholars, artists, assistants, and organizations who helped support this class. We couldn’t do it without you!

  • Ed Kelsey
  • Dave del Prete
  • Cassie Blake
  • Jenny Romero
  • Lea Whittington
  • Rachel Rosenfeld
  • Ted Miller
  • Jonathan Schaerf
  • Greg Foster
  • Patricia Keighley
  • Andrew Collins
  • Tania Modleski
  • Guy Moon
  • Krista Smith
  • Marissa Eisele
  • Tim Sexton
  • Kyle Schember
  • Brian Baltazar
  • Brantley Gutierrez
  • Kaipo Jones
  • Aaron Shure
  • Marc Solomon
  • Hailey Murray
  • Jody Levin
  • Robert Ivison 
  • John Cook
  • Brian Dinkins
  • Dee Bradley Baker
  • Doug Pray
  • Melissa Robledo
  • Jill Mazursky
  • Olivia Micu
  • Dina Baise
  • Matt Gamarra
  • Christopher Kartje
  • Andrew Crane
  • Nancy Winters
  • Elizabeth Ingram
  • Jeanette Gregory
  • Turner Classic Film Festival
  • Million Dollar Theater
  • Audio Head
  • The Oakwood Toluca Hills
  • NBC Universal StudioPost Sound
  • Subtractive
  • Warner Brothers
  • New Line Cinema
  • Vanity Fair
  • The Lot
  • American Cinematheque
  • Directors Guild of America
  • Writers Guild of America
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Herrick Library
  • Creative Artists Agency
  • IMAX Entertainment

and of course, Colorado College

Give the Movie Justice


Chris, me and Tom before the show
Chris, me and Tom before the show.

When looking back on the class, one of my favorite events was seeing The Godfather played on the big screen at the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. It’s funny when looking back on it, because when I first saw this film when I was younger, I hated it, and thought it was just a very long and  boring film, while now it is by far my favorite movie. It IS an extremely long film at roughly three hours, yet the film is so well put together that for me, it now goes by in the blink of an eye. After looking further into this film, I was pretty shocked at some of my findings, both about Marlon Brando and the film in general. To start, Brando was only 50 when this film was being produced. It is insane to see pictures of him before and after his makeup. Even crazier is the fact that Brando had a custom mouthpiece during filming to give his jaw its puffy appearance!

Brando before and after his makeup for his role as Vito Corleone
Brando before and after his makeup for his role as Vito Corleone.
Brando's mouthpiece
Brando’s mouthpiece.

Not only this, but Brando was almost not even allowed to play the role. Like the big studio head in the film not letting Johnny Fontaine play the star role, Paramount President Stanley Jaffe said strongly, “As long as I’m president of the studio, Marlon Brando will not be in this picture, and I will no longer allow you to discuss it,” then went on to add, “If Marlon Brando is in this picture, it will gross $5 million less than if no one is in it.” However, Jaffe then offered the role to Brando on three conditions, which he felt would persuade Brando to not want the role. 1) Brando would appear in the movie for a salary far below the actor’s usual minimum.  2)  Brando would take personal financial responsibility for any production delays he caused (he was known for this, hence the difficulty Jaffe had with hiring him). 3) Brando would consent to a screen test. (All this info comes from from Harlan Lebo’s The Godfather Legacy: The Untold Story of the Making of the Classic Godfather Trilogy.) It is crazy to contrast this pre-production attitude towards Brando with how well his role was received: he went all the way to receiving the Oscar for best actor in a leading role.

From left to right, James Caan, Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino and John Cazale.
From left to right, James Caan, Marlon Brando, Francis Ford Coppola, Al Pacino and John Cazale.

When considering Brando almost didn’t receive the role, as well as director Coppola’s comments in an interview with the Academy of Achievement ( , it is remarkable that the film was finished. “The Godfather was a very unappreciated movie when we were making it,” Coppola said. “They were very unhappy with it. They didn’t like the way I was shooting it. I was always on the verge of getting fired, so it was an extremely nightmarish experience.” Coppola went on to say that he wasn’t even sure that he would ever get another job directing, which is extremely surprising to me.  The actors agreed with the experience being nightmarish and almost walked out of the production at various points. Knowing this, I connected it with my own struggles I’ve had in the production process, which made me appreciate the film even more, as there were so many instances of it almost being nixed.


In film, sound is, and should be, at the back of the viewer’s mind.  Directors cannot write off a mistake in sound in the same way that they can talk about the exposure being off.  When sound is off, the viewer is taken out of the film’s world.  So many student films, including ones I have made, suffer because we do not record sound properly or do not have the time to create a full sound mix.  The ambience can be too loud, ADR is improperly mixed in, and every now and then a distinct buzzing persists in the background.  In Hollywood, studios have months to nail down every sound effect for movies.  They sit in huge rooms with theatre quality sound systems and meticulously listen to every detail. 

The TV world is a little different.  The sound mixing rooms are still very impressive, but the turnaround for each episode is much quicker.   We were lucky enough to talk with John Cook, a CC alumnus, who has sound mixed for titles such as Parks and Rec, Hello Ladies, and The Office.  When we met with him, he had just finished mixing an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Andy Samberg’s show.  John and his partner only had a day to mix the episode, which they said is typical.

Their schedule is especially impressive when one takes into account the amount of different sounds present in a show or movie.  Sound mixes for TV shows and films are incredibly intricate, and often are enhanced with — or completely comprised of — sounds created and recorded off set.  These sounds are called Foley or just sound FX.  Foley is custom-created for each show, while every studio has a sound library full of FX, which they then incorporate into their content. Sound mixers often have to change the sound’s EQ (which frequencies we hear), otherwise the sound effects will sound out of place.  The same goes for ADR, or Automated Dialogue Replacement.  If someone mumbles a line on set, actors will go into a studio and re record their lines. The lines said in the studio sound much different than those recorded on set, so the trebles, mids, and bass must be modified.  Luckily for John, he has some pretty sweet tools to help him out.

For the class, I chose sound as my area of interest because when I graduate that’s the world of show business I would like to enter. So please excuse me while I nerd out for a second. As I mentioned above, one of the most difficult things is making Foley, FX, and ADR sound normal. I’ve spent an hour working on thirty seconds of dialogue and it still doesn’t sound right.  But John! John has an app for that. It literally analyzes the sound for maybe fifteen seconds and then spits out something close to perfect.  I was so taken away I accidently said, “That’s wicked,” really loudly. But it truly was wicked, and I’m really happy I got to see it with my own eyes.


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

The Final Days

I knew my area of interest for this class would be comedy writing from the start. I also knew my final project would be a pilot script. The trouble at the beginning was determining exactly what that script would be about.

With a focus in satire, I looked back at the early days of film and Hollywood’s golden age to draw inspriration from the comedy greats. I ultimately settled on Preston Sturges – one of the first writers to direct his own scripts, and the director of great films in the 40s like The Great McGinty, The Palm Beach Story, and Sullivan’s Travels.

I mainly focused on Sullivan’s Travels. Written and directed by Sturges and released in 1941, this film tells the hilarious story of a comedy director who yearns to make socially-conscious films. Though his executives insist his privileged lifestyle means he’ll never understand such deep concepts, he goes on a soul-searching mission to find trouble anyway in order to create the dramas he’d like to make. Without giving too much away (because everyone should watch it, especially comedy fans), the film is ultimately a hilarious and touching satire of Hollywood and its players.

Sullivan laughs at a movie.
Sullivan laughs at a movie.

Though I’m more interested in writing comedy for television, I was intrigued by the idea of Hollywood satirizing itself – something that, according to letters I found in the Academy library, was quite unheard of when the film was released in 1941. Executives and actors alike were worried about being portrayed as “incompetent” or “people to be laughed at,” a worry that thankfully gave way eventually to films like Sullivan’s Travels. As an aspiring TV writer, I decided to direct my efforts at something that gives both TV and comedy a direct competitor: Reality television.

With an idea in mind, the scriptwriting process was simple. I enjoy writing, and it’s also difficult to feel the typical stress of fourth week when you’re doing work poolside. Though I’m still in LA at the airport and I’m leaving with a good start on a script, I’ll miss this place. And if anyone’s wondering, 85 degrees and perpetually sunny is much more conducive to comedy writing than 16 and snowing.

The Oakwood


The Oakwood

Today was the last day of the Hollywood class. It’s probably the sleep deprivation, but it’s hard to process everything we learned in the class, as well as the fact that it’s now over. Amidst the stand-still traffic and schmoozing with stars, I’ll be sure to miss the Oakwood, funnily enough. Today I said goodbye to Margo, an elderly woman I run into who has lived in the Oakwood for over forty years. The Oakwood has been an important presence on our trip. 

The first day I arrived at the Oakwood, I mentally prepared myself to get lost on a daily basis, which I did. The complex is massive, with over one thousand apartments spread between buildings A-Z. I also realized that my main means of transportation would consist of hitching rides on the ubiquitous golf carts. My second day I people-watched and divided the Oakwood residents into the categories of child actors,  parents of child actors, and mysterious other.  By my third day of the Oakwood, I had attended a wellness lecture on avoiding the turkey neck, Sunday brunch, and a casting information session for child actors. Since then, I have been running into oodles of people who, upon hearing of my temporary residence, exclaim: “Oh yeah, the Oakwood! I stayed there!” What is this place?

Yesterday, I decided to ask Olivia, from the Activities department, more about the Oakwood. She told me that the Oakwood was founded in the ‘60s as a form of corporate housing, then gained a reputation for being a haven for swingin’ singles. In the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, the Oakwood reframed their image to cater toward child actors. They created an environment in which they brought in professionals rather than having families scatter out to try to find their own.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 1.19.58 AM

(Olivia working in her office. She has helped our class out a lot and is camera shy.)

Olivia’s wall features photographs of famous child actors who stayed at the Oakwood: Miley Cyrus, Jessica Biel, Frankie Munoz, and more. Rumor has it that Jay Leno often roamed the Oakwood, coaxing unsuspecting residents to participate in his TV show.  But it’s not just actors who come to the Oakwood. While jacuzzi-ing and swimming, I have run into people from all over: a physical therapy student from Saudi Arabia, a jewelry maker from the South, and no dearth of aspiring directors-writers-producers. And then there’s us, a class of thirteen Colorado College students. Who knows what we’ll be, who knows where we’ll be, but maybe one day in our wildest dreams we too shall get featured on Olivia’s wall.


In Love with Perry


Perry the Platypus, the adorable secret agent of Phineas and Ferb, has had my heart for a while. So when I found out we’d be meeting with the voice behind Perry’s iconic growl, I was what some might call irrationally excited. Little did I know, Perry was just a drop in the ocean of Dee Bradley Baker’s voice acting career.




Not only was our lunch with Dee hilariously entertaining – watching the other tables’ reaction to his monster noises was a treat – it was also uplifting. Although it’s impossible to know these things for sure, it really seemed that Dee was doing exactly what he wanted to be doing. There seems something inspiring about voice acting itself; for me, it’s the idea that no matter what you look like, you can create something amazingly unique – with talent and hard work, of course.


After our meeting, I went on a bit of a rampage researching voice actors, and was delighted by all the paradoxes: Bart Simpson is a grown woman, Elmo is a muscular black man, and the chubby, awkward Meg Griffin is the sexiest woman alive (according to Esquire magazine; this is Mila Kunis for those of you who don’t follow Esquire’s prestigious awards). Without the overpowering influence of physical appearance, there seems to be much more room for creativity and a greater devotion to the craft itself. And, in Dee’s case at least, voice actors are afforded a sense of artistic agency they might not experience in other media.


Although voice acting is a male-dominated industry that is far from artistically “pure,” whatever that means, it offers a refreshing respite from the appearance-obsessed Hollywood we know so well. If you don’t believe me, then you need to see Dee holding his nose and making monster snorts.

Chinese Seafood, German Korean Beer, & JAZZ.

Although a bit hesitant when first hearing that we were going to have a Chinese Seafood Banquet for our class celebration dinner, I am happy to say that it was one of the best meals we have had so far in LA.  Yes, I know this is not a food blog but I feel the need to give a little shout out to New Bay Seafood in the San Gabriel Valley.  Sitting around a large round table with seven of my fellow classmates, we were strategically guided through the menu by a Chinese woman who was eager to share her personal favorites and give us the best dining experience possible.  I have to say, when waiters/waitresses are visibly excited by the food they offer, it creates a whole new level of excitement for the “diners” themselves.  After ordering about seven dishes (sorry Clay & Dylan) we quickly realized that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  The first course to arrive was a Lobster.  I do not know exactly how big this lobster was but almost 2 times the size of my head… And I have a big head.  After the steak, noodles, rice, green beens, broccolini, calamari,  chicken, and soup made their way to us, we were stuffed but convinced into ordering dessert (creme brûlée).  Aside from the hilarious conversation and delicious food, a highlight of the night was definitely when two chefs brought a live King Crab into the restaurant– a vision that might haunt me for the next few months.


Yesterday, we made our way to a German Korean beer garden where we met with documentary producer Melissa Robledo.  One thing I admired was when Robledo emphasized the importance of helping to teach someone when they are either interning or working for her.  I found that really admirable as many of my own, and my friends’, internship experiences have largely been constituted by a series of menial endless tasks and minimal opportunities to enhance your personal skills.

Lastly, we were invited to the house of Jill Mazursky, a CC alum who had just returned from Coachella.  After a delicious dinner of enchiladas and salad, we all sat down to watch Keep On Keepin’ On, a documentary she executive produced.  What I personally found interesting about this documentary was that it took about twenty minutes for me to see how every person and individual story was interconnected.  This sort of delayed connectivity gave an additional excitement and surprise to the film itself.  Secondly, it focused on a topic and one of its “founding fathers”  I had minimal knowledge about – Clark Terry and JAZZ!  The story was a truly  inspiring one and showcased a connection between two people that was unique.  I think a lot of young adults tend to write off older people as being able to genuinely affect their lives in any real way.  The relationship between Terry and Justin, however, was a mutually beneficial friendship that was alive and seemingly unbreakable.  In a side-note, Jill was one of the nicest and down-to-earth people we have met thus far on our trip.  She was interested in why each one of us was personally attracted to film and happy to chat with us and give us advice on projects and future plans. She even offered to look at people’s work.  Hopefully, she won’t be bombarded with too many Vimeo links…ha.


All in All– a great last 2 days to end our block.


I think that one of the most interesting aspects of the Hollywood job culture is the way in which connections are made. We’ve heard first hand about this culture from our experiences at CAA, the DGA, and many others, as well as through some of my own experiences I’ve while out on the town with my classmates. Perhaps the best example of the culture’s uniqueness is the concept of blacklisting. In most job markets, if you happen to piss off those in your job network you can, in the worst case scenario, try to restart in another town. But Hollywood is unique in that if you want to be in on the big business pictures, you have to be in Hollywood. This atmosphere produces an odd dynamic where everyone who is highly successful is also by default irreplaceable. That dynamic, as we heard in the DGA student open house, gives way to scenarios where an actress can be incredibly rude to a director or where a person can be someone who creates an idea for a show and then can have the creative control stolen from him.

While we were at CAA, it was also apparent how important connections are and how progression is based not on past experience but on your work on the job itself. To progress at CAA, the majority of what you need to do is grunt work in the mail room or as an assistant and hope that your work is recognized. Ted Miller is an excellent example of this in the way that he worked his way up at CAA. The preexisting experience he had in the banking business didn’t translate to a higher starting position at CAA because, like previously mentioned, your relationships and work ethic are more important than any resume.

But there is an upside to this culture– if you really spread yourself out, you can create a network truly more powerful than any resume. We’ve seen this with most of the alumni we’ve met in addition to some experiences I’ve had meeting people. I am interested playing music professionally in LA, and from the people I’ve met, it seems like there are a myriad of labels to help young people find their market of listeners. So yes, this city is huge but if you have the right network, there will always be work.

Scoring Interviews

Since reading the syllabus on day one, I was dreading the interview project. Part of our class grade is dependent upon researching who’s involved in our favorite films or shows, and doing the work to get in contact with them and ask some questions pertinent to our individual areas of interest. Easy enough.

Not for me. I’ve long struggled with selling things, and cold-calling agents and managers and convincing them their busy client absolutely needs to speak with you is essentially selling yourself. Presenting yourself as important. As worthy of their  client’s time and energy. As someone who didn’t struggle even selling girl scout cookies door to door to her neighbors.

Needless to say, the facade of confidence I’d spent years developing was to be tested in a big way. After perusing IMDBPro and looking at comedy shows, it became apparent that a handful of writers were to thank (or to blame) for most of my favorites. A woman who worked on South Park, went on to be head writer for the Colbert Report, and is currently writing for Portlandia? I’ll take it.

I drafted my pleas quite carefully and tried to keep the desperation and fan-girling toned down. I decided to only write to female comedians, thinking that maybe the bonds of sisterhood would simply be too great to ignore. Days later, however, they apparently had not found my anatomical similarities as compelling as I’d hoped. On the bright side, no one told me to fuck off. I called it a draw.

After a few more hopeful days, I sent out another round. This time I did some super sleuthing, uncovering the writers’ personal websites and searching through old resumes until I finally found contact information that wasn’t for their agents or managers.  I sent out one I was particularly excited about – a writer of many of my favorite sketches and television shows who was located on the East Coast. Two days later, I finally received my first response. Hello, Kenyon. I’m able to do it and I’d be happy to.

To quote a notable shoe company, sometimes you have to just do it.* Accomplished people are just people, albeit with eight times as many credits to their name and busier schedules than me. I still only ended up with one response out of 20 attempts, but that proved to be all I needed and I was able to get over some of my fears of contacting strangers. Girl scout me would be so proud.



*blog post not sponsored by Nike.