The value of a college education measures deeper than what one can read out of a textbook, off a powerpoint presentation, or on a spreadsheet. For me, the extracurricular activities I have partaken in have been equally fulfilling and empowering in regards to my overall personal growth. When making my college decision almost four years ago, I was informed of a program, Hollywood POV, where students essentially took a field trip to Los Angeles, California for just over a week. This baffled me, as Los Angeles always seemed like an impenetrable oasis reserved for masters of their craft across the country. The thought of having an opportunity like this at my fingertips was the push I needed to commit to SUNY Oswego, and I am glad that I did.
Three years after making that leap of faith, I had never forgotten about the Hollywood POV program — especially during the cold winter months where the air physically hurt my face. When I saw the program flyer in the Lanigan hallway, I immediately filled out an application. Weeks later I found out I had been accepted into the program, and the experience of a lifetime was right before my eyes.
Our class would meet once a week during the fall semester, just going over the trip itinerary and preparing ourselves for the travel. These meetings were helpful in finding roommates, finding cheap flights, and becoming closer as a group. Our class got along incredibly well, which only made the trip more enjoyable for me. But, after a few weeks of class, the fall semester was over, and the trip would soon begin.
In early January, everyone in the class flew separately to Los Angeles and was shuttled to our hotel, which is covered in the class fee–along with transportation and access to exclusive activities. The hotel is located in the heart of Burbank, which is an amazing city. Its downtown area was a five-minute walk away from our hotel, and it had a wide variety of restaurants and stores for us to visit. Not to mention, the views!
Now, for the meat and potatoes. The experiences we had on this trip were simply breathtaking. On the very first day, we got to visit the casting director of “The Young and the Restless” along with a tour of the set. Then we traveled to Venice Beach, where we met with a film producer of his own production company. Then to close the day, we got to tour the studio of a first-class Audio Engineer at Larson Studios. Each of these opportunities was eye-opening to the effect that they were all so welcoming. Each of the connections had a tie to SUNY Oswego, and they were very open to questions about their career paths and about the work they do. I learned so much in this first day and was so excited for the rest of the week ahead.
The second day consisted of attending a Q&A panel by ProMaxBDA hosted at the Warner Brothers Lot, where we learned all about careers in the entertainment and marketing field. Afterward, we took a stop at Universal Boardwalk, then to the Academy of Television Arts and Science–where we were able to hold a real Emmy and speak with the Director of the Academy Internship Program! As if that wasn’t enough, to cap off the night we met with the Manager of Casting of TBS/TNT in downtown Burbank. Needless to say, it was a tiring, but amazing day once again.
The next day consisted of a trip to the Hollywood walk of fame and a trip to the Hollywood sign. Afterward, we took a trip to NPR West, where we toured the radio station and go to learn more about the content creation process in this field of news. Then, excitingly, we returned to the Warner Brothers lot where we got to sit in for a live studio recording of the Netflix Original Series, “Disjointed” starring Kathy Bates and Chris Redd. This was one of the coolest moments of the trip, as we were able to witness the entire creation process of a professional-quality television show. Experiences like these are simply not accessible on Oswego’s campus, which is what made this experience truly priceless for me.
The following day we took a tour of the brand new Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank. This studio is where shows like “Spongebob” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” have been drafted and produced for years. It was a very unique and fun atmosphere and some of the people I met helped me get to the final round of interviews for an Internship at this company for the following summer. Following this tour, the class got to visit BBC America/National Geographic and the people who create the Emmy-winning series, “Life Below Zero”. We got to sit in on the show planning process and sit inside an edit bay, where the show is ultimately stitched together. Wrapping up the night, the class went to Beverly Hills to eat some dinner. My group elected to get tacos, which is never a bad choice…
The next day was my favorite day. On this day, the class took a trip to LA’s “Original Farmer’s Market”. I had the most delicious food of the trip at this farmer’s market and would have eaten here every day if I could have. With full stomachs, we all got to experience something incredible. The class had VIP seats to a recording of “The Price is Right”. That’s right! We were in the front section of the crowd, and I even got to speak to Drew Carey during a commercial break. Though we were not able to compete (because we were VIP), we were surrounded by people who actually were chosen, which was exhilarating and priceless. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures, but you will just have to believe me!
The next two days consisted of PA Bootcamp–yet another amazing activity. This Bootcamp was nothing short of a Bootcamp. In this time, we were trained to be professional PAs for film sets and television productions alike. We were trained by experienced PA professionals on how to read a call sheet, use a headset, be familiar with production lingo, sell your experiences, and how to keep being asked to return. Though intimidating at first, this experience could have proven to be the most valuable of our trip. If you were to become a PA in the future, there is no training process–you kind of just get thrown in the ring. And if you don’t do a good job/they don’t like you…..you’re out. Henceforth, this opportunity was incredibly informative and crucial to preparing me for what very well could be the next stage in my professional career. The second day finished with an alumni dinner, where the class was able to meet, and network with Oswego alumni who work and live in the Los Angeles area. I met some former friends, and some new friends in the Los Angeles “world” that I am sure will prove to be beneficial connections in the near future.
The final day was aimed to relax, and take in the beauty of Los Angeles. Our first trip was to Santa Monica Pier, where we spent a good part of the afternoon by the beach and on the boardwalk. There are so many things to do, and so much food to eat in Santa Monica, and I was sure to take advantage of that. If you are ever there, try the spiced Mango! Anyways, afterward, we took a cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and took in the magnificent views. We then stopped in Malibu, to walk along the beach and take some stunning photos. A full camera roll, and a large pizza later, the day was done, and so was our trip. We packed our bags early the next morning, hopped on a plane at LAX, and then arrived back home to the blustery winter of Upstate New York.
A great quote that was shared with us during this trip was from a panelist at the ProMaxBDA panel. He stated, “There will always be work in Los Angeles. The United States is the Entertainment Capital of the World, and it will always be that way. The more people want to watch movies, the more work there will be to make movies”. This stuck with me because it was a reality I needed to be told. Hollywood can be an intimidating environment, but sometimes you need a friendly voice to show you the real truth. The biggest hurdle is to get yourself to an LA/NYC/Atlanta, etc. Once you take the leap and put yourself in an environment that will allow you to grow, it’s just a matter of doing it.
I really cannot advocate for this class enough. This trip was so valuable in boosting my understanding of the professional industry. I came into the program hoping to get a sense of direction for my professional career and to learn about other opportunities that exist in the entertainment industry. Before, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, or where to even start. After this trip, my mindset took a complete 180-degree turn. Though I still did not know exactly what I wanted to do, I got a healthy dose of existing careers in the entertainment industry, and a cornucopia of connections to help me potentially reach where I want to reach a few years down the road. Not only that, but this class connected me with some of the best and most ambitious students SUNY Oswego has to offer. We created a family during this trip, and we all still vow to reconnect in Los Angeles a couple of years down the road!
If this trip is something you or a friend are interested in, PLEASE APPLY!!!
Applications close on April 26th, 2018.
And feel free to respond to this post, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the program!