For the literalist “Hollywood” is but a subdivision against a hillside in Los Angeles, California. For many tourists from around the world Hollywood is the pandemonium around the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue. Or it can be the fascinating tours offered by Universal Studios and Warner Brothers. Ask someone to describe Hollywood and you will receive many answers. “It is the center of the movie world” some will say with a fair degree of accuracy. Others will mention some of their favorite movie stars, most of who are memorialized on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame.” Then, of course, there is the annual extravaganza of self aggrandizement we call “The Oscars” or more precisely the Academy Awards. It arrives each spring with a parade of glittering stars giving endless interviews as they stroll the red carpet into the auditorium for a globally televised event. There are speeches and comedy and dozens of shiny golden statues that have the ability to bring rivers of tears of joy to each recipient.
Ask most folks to describe a movie set and they will likely tell you about all of the amazing hardware, the giant lights connected by miles of thick cable. Surely they will recall the fleet of Star wagons that provide temporary shelter for the actors between “takes” while they are “on set.” There is always so many people milling around it is dizzying. Some hold clip boards and seem to be taking serious notes. Often there is one or more people hold long poles with microphones dangling off of them. Typically there are huge reflectors to get exactly the right light in the exact location when and as needed. Then the frantic movement and buzz stops as the star or stars take their places and the director shouts “Action.” Almost as soon as it starts it is over signaled by an authoritative shout of “Cut.” Stick around the set long enough and you will discover one of the very best traditions of Hollywood, craft service. Even the most modest of productions will provide food for all cast and crew. Many of the more major productions provide catered food that would rival the best five star restaurants and often come from them.
That is pretty much the image of Hollywood, the perception of the vast majority of people all over the world who typically view only from the outside. It is glamorous and sassy, exotic and rich. It is a place that draws literally millions of people every year, some only to look and see others to get involved. Based almost exclusively on this glorified view of Hollywood and the film making industry hundreds of thousands of men and women young and old come from every corner of the planet for a shot at becoming a movie star. Most go home disillusioned. But yet they come again and again with bright smiles and high hopes. What they find will typically be more like what I witnessed recently.
I had the privilege to spend most of a day on the set of a very small independent video production. There were no trailers, no star wagons, no big lights, no reflectors, no microphone booms, no cables and a very small crew. The gigantic cameras one would typically associate with Hollywood, you know the ones from Panavision or Alexa or Red were conspicuously absent. Present in abundance were about thirty cast members assembled for their day on camera in pursuit of the Hollywood dream. They ranged from young to old, male and female all with that driving dream of making it in “the industry” as the locals refer to the film making business. Another thing in common amongst this group of actors was that most were totally unknown and a very few did have some demonstrable history in the business. And truth be told almost everyone had virtually no chance of ever becoming a movie star. But that did not matter.
They were on set and they would soon be on camera and they were acting and they were filled with hope and joy because while the near one hundred degree heat was deeply onerous they were by God indeed working, for no pay, but working nonetheless in Hollywood. Some had even come from another country so far reaching and strong is the draw. No pay, super hot temperatures, minimal creature comforts just did not matter to these stalwart actors. And that is the real magic of Hollywood.
I can think of no other profession that would cause many thousands of people to show up, work their butts off for free and in many cases continue to pay for further acting classes all while keeping a positive attitude. Pick any other job, nursing perhaps. Imagine this want ad: “Hospital wants nursing candidates. They will work 12 hour shifts six days each week without pay. After six months the Hospital will select one out of one thousand for a paid nursing job.” How many nurse applicants do you think would show up? But acting is not like that at all. Actors essentially do show up and they do so because they just love being there and being involved. They are motivated by the dream that is Hollywood.
So when next you see the traditional stereotype fantasy world of the glitz and glam of Hollywood, remember the legions of real actors pursuing their dream most of who will remain unknown to all but their family. And when next an “overnight” sensation is brought to your attention keep in mind that “night” is typically years long. It would be easy to dismiss these fine folks as simply being fools and indeed some may well be such. But for many it comes down to the one thing everyone really should do and that is discover your passion and then go after it relentlessly. It is often easy to think of actors as being lazy and spoiled; easy but generally dead wrong. They work pushed by their dream. And for that regardless of the level of success they may achieve they are also happy for they are doing what they love most. Most folks in our world can’t say that. That is the dream that is Hollywood.
I hope your enjoyed my whimsical look at the real inside of Hollywood. To stay in touch with the entertainment industry in and around Hollywood please take a brief moment to subscribe to this Examiner – it is always FREE. Film buffs will also enjoy browsing more than 2000 classic film and television title at www.ronitrwin.net/id19.html.