Deluxe tour highlights studio’s achievements
Feather staffers travel to LA and arrive at Warner Bros. Studios for the five-hour Deluxe Studio Tour, April 24. As groups view backlots and walk through sound stages, they experience the Warners’ legacy that has lasted for nearly a century.
The Warner Bros. Studios began with four brothers and a dream. Harry, Jack, Albert and Sam Wonskolaser immigrated from Poland to the United States in the late 1800s. The four worked in a series of odd jobs until the third youngest, Sam, saw a motion picture projected onto a building while traveling on a job. Fascinated by the filmmaking process, the brothers purchased their first portable projector and launched a movie-making career.
The studio made their first big break with The Jazz Singer, the world’s first film with synchronized dialogue and music. Opening on Oct. 6, 1927, the film’s success left the rest of Hollywood scrambling to catch up. As silent films made way for “talkies”, Warner Bros. merged with First National Pictures and moved to the other side of the Hollywood Hills.
Warner Bros. purchased a 62-acre lot in Burbank in 1928, which later became known as Warner Bros. Studios. Today, the 110 acre facility features 36 sound stages, four groups of exterior sets, and a jungle lagoon.
Stephanie Treventi fell in love with the Warner Bros. company at a young age. Now working as a tour guide on the lot, her mission is to help guests appreciate and understand the history behind the family and films.
“I think it’s really important for people to understand the history of our company,” Treventi said. “We are one of the oldest and biggest studios in Hollywood. We’ve been around since the 1920s and the brothers that started this place really were a family and it started out as a family company. I hope people can develop a greater appreciation for that as they leave the tour.”
Tours start with a short video featuring significant movies in the history of the Warner Bros. company. Traveling in touring cars, groups are lead around Warner Bros. Studios by tour guides. The guides explain each set and reveal some of the tricks-of-the-trade, customizing each tour based on their attendee’s preferences.
Warehouseman Kerry Knerr worked as a prop master for 30 years and has been in the prop house for the past seven years. Taking an interest in the greens department, Knerr enjoys moving equipment around and making a set look realistic.
“I don’t make props,” Knerr said. “My job would be to facilitate what the show is doing and go out and get the items that the actors will work with. I started to go into the greens department because I was studying foliage and found out that a lot of greens work was just moving heavy plants. There’s an art to it, but it had nothing to do with knowing exactly what the plants are and how they grow and things like that, so I enjoyed it.”
The first leg of the tour showed off Warner Bros.’ multiple exterior sets. Some houses, like those in the Warner Village, double as offices for production officials, while others hold interior sets. The New York Street, built in 1930, has made thousands of appearances in movies and tv shows.
Senior and Editor-in-Chief, Kamryn Schultz, enjoyed the costume designs and seeing what the characters wore. Schultz toured the famous buildings and back-lots of known shows and movies.
“My favorite part about the tour was seeing the costume designs for my favorite characters,” Schultz said. “There were iconic building and sets from Friends that I also really liked. I thought I would know most movie magic secrets, but I was surprised to find out some of their tricks. Locations like hospitals or schools don’t have electricity, so everything that is lit up is done manually.
Guests also view behind-the-scenes sets and filming locations for many shows and movies such as Gilmore Girls, The Big Bang Theory and the Harry Potter series. Along with visiting the costume warehouse, attendees also visit the property department, with multiple sound stages and backlots.
In the below podcast, journalist Bryce Foshee interviews Kerry Knerr on his experience in the prop industry.
First year Feather journalist Kyler Garza, ‘21, enjoyed visiting stage sets and the Batman movie vehicles. It surprised him to discover that it could take a week to finish one 30 minute episode for a television show.
“It was interesting to learn how determined producers are to make the scene the best it could be,” Garza said. “For a journalist I think it’s important to show the most detail to the reader and give them something that will help them out. Something that stood out to me is when our tour guide told us it could take a week to finish one 30 minute episode, and how it would be a good day if they at least filmed five minutes of it during a 12 hour work day.”
Lunch and breakfast are both included with the deluxe tour. Lunch is served at the Warner Bros. Commissary Fine Dining, where actors and executives can meet while filming. After the three course meal guests are shown around more backlots and then taken to the Warner Bros. Archive.
Allowed to see multiple Batmobiles up close, attendees visit the Batcave where various vehicles and Batman props are displayed. Ending the tour at Stage 48, guests are able to interact with a Friends set and view exhibits featuring recent movies.
Photojournalist Avery Jones, ’20, enjoyed seeing the sets and learning about the different elements that make up the show. She was also fascinated by the different filming locations that a single show could have.
“My favorite part about the tour was getting to see all of the backlots where some of my favorite shows have been filmed at,” Jones said. “I loved when we went into the ‘All American’ T.V. sound stage, because it is one of my favorite shows. I learned a lot from the tour, from how T.V. shows work to how much actually goes into each production.”
From backlots to practical sets to sound stages to costume and props, the Warner Bros. Studio tour acquainted the Feather staff with many of the aspects of film production. After exploring Warner Bros. Studios, Feather staffers toured ABC7’s newsroom and learned about news broadcasting.
Follow The Feather as they explore Anaheim and attend the NSPA convention.
The following video recaps the first two days of The Feather’s trip to Anaheim.
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Slideshow below includes images from The Feather’s deluxe Warner Bros. Studio tour.
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