Hollywood is a distant land only seen on the big screen for many in America, but for Port Townsend High students apart of teacher David Egeler’s media class, it was an up-close and in-person …
Hollywood is a distant land only seen on the big screen for many in America, but for Port Townsend High students apart of teacher David Egeler’s media class, it was an up-close and in-person experience of a lifetime.
A group of 10 media students — accompanied by Egeler and teacher Michele Soderstrom as chaperones — recently headed to sunny Los Angeles, California to get a taste of Tinseltown.
Beyond just touring the town and seeing the sights in late April, the media students got to view the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, take part in a VIP backlot tour of Warner Bros. Studios, and even break bread with longtime members of the industry.
“It was really different this time. Last time we had double the number of students, so by having a smaller group I felt like I was going through the experience with the students together with them,” Egeler said.
MEETING INDUSTRY MEMBERS
One of the most exciting parts of the trip for Egeler was getting to meet up with former peers of the movie industry when he lived in Los Angeles, and have a steakhouse dinner with his peers and students to hear about Hollywood firsthand. Prior to teaching, Egeler lived and worked in the movie industry in a post-production role.
“I was able to find five old friends of mine that work in the industry that happened to all be free for that night to come down and have dinner with the kids, so there was a chance for them to have informal conversations about their experiences in the film industry,” Egeler said. “It’s called The Smokehouse, right across the street from Warner Bros. Studios, so it’s got all the old-school actors’ photos up on the walls and signatures and everything.”
“Going back to World War Two era, it’s been a place where people in the industry hang out, so it had that kind of atmosphere to it,” Egeler added.
The media students seemed to have gotten a lot out of the Smokehouse dinner, as well.
“We got to talk with a bunch of people who’ve been in the industry for a while, and that was very inspiring to see people who’d forged their careers in Hollywood making films and seeing where you would get your start if you wanted to go into one of those industries and what it would entail,” said student Kai Campbell. “That was very interesting.”
Another highlight of the trip was the opportunity to visit the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which houses countless costumes, movie props, and other memorabilia of the film industry.
“One of the things I definitely really enjoyed was visiting the Academy Awards museum,” media student Biaani Egeler said. “They had a lot of really cool stuff and a lot of costumes from movies I’ve seen … it was really cool to see those costumes in person and the detail was really amazing.”
Whether it was one of the pairs of “The Wizard of Oz” character Dorothy’s signature red slippers used during filming, famous “Star Wars” droid models R2-D2 and C-3PO, or countless other props and items, the museum had plenty for the students to “Ooh” and “Aah” over.
“They had the house from the movie ‘Kubo and the Two Strings,’ like the actual model that they used to film, and it’s actually really small,” said Char Santerre, one of the students.
TRIP TO REMEMBER
Additionally, the students took part in a VIP backlot tour at Warner Bros. Studios, getting to see the sets shot in countless films and TV shows.
“One of my favorite shows is ‘The Mentalist,’ and a lot of filming was done at Warner Brothers, so it was really interesting to me to be able to literally walk inside the houses that they filmed in and go around and see all the stuff,” Santerre said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Beyond that, the group also visited the Hollywood Cinema Production Resources school and even got to get away from the city bustle to Mount Hollywood.
“I really liked going up on the hike from the Mount Hollywood observation center and going up the 1.5-mile hike and going to see the [Hollywood] sign from closer up,” said Sevryn Rust, one of the media students. “It was very, very hot and it was very rocky terrain, but it was really beautiful to see the whole landscape around from that super high elevation point.”
The trip provided inspiration and many memories for the students, whether they pursue the Hollywood dream or find success in another field.
“I filled up the whole camera roll. I got home and my mom was like, ‘You did what?’” Luca Campbell said of her many photos collected from the trip.
Both Egeler and Soderstrom shared positivity and gratitude for giving the media students a special trip to remember.
“I think all the students were fantastic and I hope that everybody took away something a little special from it,” Soderstrom said. “It was super fun; I feel like everyone pivoted really well when we needed to, which was many times. I would do it again.”
“For me, that was the thing that I was most satisfied about, was being able to set it up for them,” Egeler said.