Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Paramount Studios

Dan Mollison

The entrance to Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.

The entrance to Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.

One of the most memorable highlights of the creative producers’ Semester in LA was a side trip we took to tour Paramount Studios in Hollywood.

As it happens, Paramount is located directly across the street from where we have class at Raleigh Studios, so when it was time for our visit, we simply left the building we have classes in and walked over.

A street within the Paramount lot.  The Hollywood sign is visible in the distance.

A street within the Paramount lot. The Hollywood sign is visible in the distance.

Seeing the ins and outs of Paramount was fairly awe-inspiring.  One of the amazing things about being in Hollywood and also being a Columbia student is having the opportunity to see the immense scale at which the Hollywood industry operates.  There’s quite a difference between what I will be able to do with my thesis film and what happens at Paramount every day, and that’s what I couldn’t help thinking while I toured the grounds.

This is the actual bench that Tom Hanks, as Forrest Gump, sat on while waiting for his bus.

This is the actual bench that Tom Hanks, as Forrest Gump, sat on while waiting for his bus.

The majority of the buildings at Paramount house huge soundstages where mainly TV shows are shot.  We were able to check out the sets of some of them (including the talk show “The Doctors” and the scripted show Community—and yes, we got to walk through the main library where Community’s cast usually hangs out on the show!).  We also were able to walk by a few others, including Dr. Phil’s studio and the many soundstages of a personal favorite of mine, Glee.  We didn’t see any activity on the Glee set that day, but we did walk by the cast’s trailers and the location they use for the restaurant “Breadstix”. (In real life, it’s a cafeteria at Paramount.)

A "New York" street on the Paramount lot, used to shoot scenes that are set in NYC.

A "New York" street on the Paramount lot, used to shoot scenes that are set in NYC.

Another cool aspect at Paramount we had the opportunity to check out was in a section specifically designed to look like different cities (namely, New York and Chicago).  We walked down a city street that resembled an NYC street, but with buildings that may or may not have actually housed anything.  We even walked by a parking lot that doubles as an enormous water tank that can be filled and used for ocean scenes, including some for the movie Water World.  Our tour guide listed a number of movies and TV shows that had used care in how they shot here in order to preserve the illusion that the scene they were creating was taking place far from LA.

This "skyscraper" is used for scenes that are supposed to take place in a metropolitan area.  Directors clearly avoid having their shots go above the first few floors.

This "skyscraper" is used for scenes that are supposed to take place in a metropolitan area. Directors clearly avoid having their shots go above the first few floors.

It was great to be able to see how things work at Paramount and to get a firsthand sense as to the scale with which the Hollywood industry operates.  From my perspective, it definitely offers something to look forward to!

Paramount Studios

One of the most memorable highlights of the creative producers’ Semester in LA was a side trip we took to tour Paramount Studios in Hollywood. As it happens, Paramount is …

Film & Video - Creative Producing MFA Dan Mollison, dmollison@gmail.com
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