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MAP 11 students explore production and film in Los Angeles

Students+visiting+the+Academy+Awards+Museum+on+March+9.
All photos courtesy of MAP leadership

Students visiting the Academy Awards Museum on March 9.

From March 7-10, 42 juniors in the school’s Media Arts Program (MAP) toured parks, studios and museums around Los Angeles. The annual trip, which started in 2013, marked the second year back from trips that were canceled due to pandemic restrictions. 

Coordinated by MAP teachers Natasha Ritchie and Joel Tarbox, the trip gave students the chance to learn about the culture, technology and opportunities in the world of film.  

Day 1: De Anza College’s Film and TV department

The first stop on March 7 wasn’t far from the school: At De Anza College, students went on a studio tour guided by educators and directors of the program, visiting state-of-the art animation classrooms and sound studios. Students were given a glimpse into the equipment used by community college students.

“They actually let the students touch things and play with things, and normally, on college tours, you don’t get to do that,” Ritchie said. “So it’s really important to us that we take students there.” 

For those who wish to continue pursuing TV and film in college, guides advertised the option of attending the community college for two years before transferring to universities such as New York University or University of Southern California (USC) to continue their studies.

Day 2: USC and Universal Studios

At USC, Class of ‘19 alumna and USC graduate Kitty Huang gave students a tour around the School of Cinematic Arts, which contained several different stages used regularly by film and media students. Within the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, students explored a motion capture studio, several soundstages and an IMAX theater. 

Courtesy of MAP leadership

Students explore the School of Cinematic Arts at USC

As someone who studied film and has worked in the industry, Huang gave advice to students, explaining what colleges look for in students who wish to continue doing media arts.

“We were told [specifically for film] that for a lot of [colleges], they’re not looking for your technical abilities because they can teach you that,” junior Niraali Garg said. “They’re not looking for you to be already proficient [in technical aspects], because the whole point of going to college is to learn about it. They’re looking more for your ability to tell stories and come up with original, creative ideas.”

Next, the group took the Universal Studios tram tour, which drove them past a range of sets and studios, including those of previous famous films and sets in active use. Through 3-D glasses, students watched scenes from movies like “Jurassic Park” and “Fast and Furious” jump out toward them from the side of the tram.

“The tram tour is really fun to do together because it’s really the one that showcases the media elements,” Ritchie said. “It takes you around their backlot, where they were filming [a TV show].”

For Ritchie, one of the highlights of the trip occurred when the group of chaperones intended to go on the “Jurassic Park” ride, and their students at the front of the line stayed back to ride with them.

“They were further ahead of us in line but they decided to wait, so they stood there for an extra 10 minutes,” Ritchie said. “All these people went by until we matched them in line, and then we got to ride that together. Moments like that were super fun — we got totally soaked and it was great​​.”

Courtesy of MAP leadership

Students at Universal Studios.

Day 3: Warner Bros. studio, Academy Awards Museum, LA County Art Museum and Pantages Theatre

At the Warner Brothers studios, students took another tram tour that brought them to outdoor facades, soundstages and sets from famous shows such as “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Barbie,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Abbott Elementary.”

At the studio, a production sound mixer demonstrated the layers of sound step-by-step through individually adding dialogue, character speech, music and Foley sounds (sound effects like footsteps, shuffling or tapping recorded separately), showing how each added a different effect to the final scene. 

The studio also featured interactive exhibits where smaller groups could record lines from famous movies and put them into the scene as film editors would. Some groups made up lines for the scenes from “The Matrix” and “Harry Potter.” Other themed exhibits included the DC comics and “Fantastic Beasts,” the latter of which featured a collection of Herbology ingredients, sorting hats and potion making items.

Courtesy of MAP leadership

Students on a tram tour at Warner Bros. Studio.

At the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the juniors explored galleries dedicated to “The Godfather,” which had many of the movie’s props. One exhibit also featured Pedro Amoldóvar, detailing the impact that his foreign films had on social movements. The museum also displayed many of the costumes, props and set designs from famous movies.

This year was the first time students visited the LA County Art Museum, a facility that is right next to the Academy Museum. Exhibits included Dining with the Sultan: The Fine Art of Feasting, which displayed plateware among other culinary items from the Middle East, and War Stories: World War I Print Portfolios, containing the artwork of German artists’ depictions of the war.

Each year, students watch a performance at the Pantages Theater, often dubbed the “Broadway of Los Angeles.” This year’s production was the musical “Chicago” — “an exaggerated story sort of about murder, mayhem and jazz,” Ritchie said — which had an orchestra playing on stage and dancers executing advanced choreography.

“In a lot of musicals, the main character is usually singing or doing something else, and they have backup dancers,” junior Rylee Stanton said. “But [in “Chicago”], the main characters are the dancers. You have to be an amazing actor, an amazing singer and an amazing dancer. It’s crazy.” 

Courtesy of MAP leadership

Students in front of the Berlin wall exhibition.

Day 4: The Getty Museum

On the last day of the trip, the group visited The Getty Museum, which showcased the architecture outside and artwork inside. Students walked through exhibition rooms that preserved centuries-old manuscripts, reimagined French palaces, displayed Impressionist paintings and much more.

“There’s a whole exhibit that’s set up to essentially mimic Versailles, and so you walk around one of the buildings to see parquet floors, the crown molding and Parisian furniture,” Ritchie said.

Photo courtesy of MAP leadership

Students at the Getty Museum

Though she said the trip left them exhausted, junior Anneliese Shab said that it was a rewarding bonding experience.

“At every single stop we had, there were moments that were just super fun,” she said. “I got to get along with so many people that I wouldn’t have talked to before. We all got to know each other, and it’s an opportunity that we wouldn’t have been able to do if we were just at school.”

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