Becoming a VIP Tour Guide has helped me see things differently–I now have a much stronger understanding, and therefore appreciation, for the effort that goes into putting a show or film together. I now watch TV and film with a more excited eye (to spot the well decorated sets on the backlot), and I watch shows and movies with a level of admiration that I didn’t have before. Being able to see a set change day to day, watching the crews work on it, and then see what the final product looks like on the screen is a gift I try to never take for granted.
Q: We see you’re pictured on our Chicago backlot set, what’s your favorite story to share with guests about this location?
I love this area of the backlot for so many reasons–one being that I’m from Chicago. This is a little piece of home for me every day at work, but I also love sharing what the Burbank El tracks are made of – which is very different than the Chicago El tracks. I also like to delve into how the crews dress this set and make it look like the south side of Chicago for “Shameless” and how it was converted into part of Gotham City and the Hall of Records in “Batman Returns”.
However, if I had to pick my ultimate favorite story, it’s how “Shameless” dressed their convenient store, the Kash and Grab (pictured). They dressed the set with all kinds of snacks and food, and overnight a hungry raccoon made their way in and had a midnight snack. I love this story so much because not only is it a cute story, but it also shares the natural difficulties of shooting on a backlot or on location.
Q: If you could see any scene re-created on the backlot—which scene would you want to see and why?
This question is ridiculously difficult. We’ve done some pretty epic stuff here, so to choose one scene ever? Yikes. I think it’s a tie between two. In Embassy Park we did a scene for “Pushing Daisies” where Chuck and Ned dig up Chuck’s dad from his grave so Ned could bring him back to life. If you’ve never seen this show, then this may sound absurd, but watch the show–it’s fabulous! It’s an amazing show and I love that scene because it’s funny and touching. I think seeing them film this cemetery scene on the lot would be neat.
The second is on Hennessy Street, where we did a scene for “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise. His character, John, gets backed into a window by the pre-crime unit, and he fights back to avoid getting arrested. “Minority Report” would be exciting because I would love to see the stunt grid they used to simulate flying. The set design would also be amazing to see too–they dug telephone poles into the ground, built a new wall in the middle of the street, and created an alley. There, they hung the stunt grid above it, and filmed the scene. Amazing.
Q: Is there a particular area of production that really interests you?
Set design. From concept to fulfillment, the whole thing is fascinating. On my tours I love to talk about how we use our sets as completely different places all over the world. We call it “New York Street,” but it’s been converted to 1877 Tokyo because a director and set designer said “we can do this.” Ridley Scott turned New York Street into futuristic Los Angeles in “Bladerunner.” Fans of that movie are always blown away when they see the street in it’s barest form. When a massive group of people create a world on a small & bare backlot set at WB–it’s magical, untouchable, and it’s part of why I love my job.
Occasionally lady luck plays her hand and we’ll run into a celeb or two. Once, I ran into Rondi Reed (she plays Peggy on “Mike and Molly”, and is also a Tony award winner) and she spent five minutes just chatting with my tour and taking pictures with everyone. It was awesome, and my guests were stoked. Steve Byrne, creator and star of “Sullivan and Son” is always so nice and will chat with guests, take pictures, and one time we also were able to meet Christine Ebersole! That was a pretty sweet day.
Q: Many of our guests love “Friends”—any favorite moments at Central Perk?
I love Central Perk, and I especially love the look on die-hard “Friends” fans faces as they open the door to see the set. It’s great to be able to take part in making a little dream happen for our guests, and it never gets old watching them geek out. Although, my fondest memory in Central Park (I’m going to get made fun of for this) was the first time I went into the set for training. I experienced the excitement with my fellow guides, and plus they’ve all become friends of mine since then–so it’s a great memory!
Q: After taking the tour, some guests have said that this is a must see attraction—from an insider’s perspective, why do you think this is the place to visit when coming to Hollywood?
I think it’s the place to visit because you never know what you’re going to get! We’re a working studio lot, and our tour guests get to see what it’s like when we’ve got all our shows filming, the crews working, and our mill department building new sets. It sometimes can look like the traffic on the 405 smashed into a 110 acre lot, and it’s amazing. We also let our guests see sets for on-air shows. They get an up close and personal view of what it looks like inside a real prod. They’re exposed to some of the behind the scenes work that goes into getting an episode prepped and filmed!
Plus, the guides are all amazing and each of us has different passions, which makes every time you visit seem like a new tour!
Q: Thanks, Candice! We’ve enjoyed the inside look you’ve given us to this “behind the scenes” tour! To our audience—thank you for reading, and click “Buy Tickets Now” because we look forward to sharing our exclusive VIP tour with you soon! Let the stories continue!