Being a USC student, going out to the movies can be quite the struggle, mainly due to a lack of time and transportation options. However, it is awards season and the biggest ceremony of the year, the 88th Academy Awards (or “Oscars”) are coming up quick, Feb. 28th! I always make it a point to watch some of the nominated films beforehand so that I’m familiar with the contenders. This makes watching the awards more fun! If you need a break from school and you love movies as much as I do, the next two weeks is a great time to catch up on those nominations. The following is a list of the films with the most nominations. I recommend seeing these first to really prepare for the big show.
The Revenant (12 nominations)
Mad Max: Fury Road (10 nominations)
The Martian (7 nominations)
Carol (6 nominations)
Bridge of Spies (6 nominations)
Below are my two favorite spots to watch a movie in Los Angeles.
Regal Cinema LA LIVE
This choice is made of convenience, but it’s also a really great place for a movie escape. The Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live is only about an 8 minute drive away. If you don’t have a car, Uber is a great option and relatively cheap. Cheaper yet, there’s a bus and a train that will get you here as well. The F Dash bus will drop you off right in front of L.A. Live, while the Expo Line light rail train station is only about two blocks away. Both modes will pick you up on the edge of campus and get you to the theater in about 15 minutes.
Living in Los Angeles, you are bound to see a celebrity or two walking around. I mean, Hollywood is the heart of the film industry and you can’t walk a block without seeing some sort of filming activity. Consequently, this summer I came upon an interesting opportunity to be a background actor.
To quickly explain, background actors , or “extras”, are all those silent people in TV shows or movies that walk around in the background, cheer in a crowd, fill a party, or sit in a café. Whether you notice them or not, these “extras” are an important part of filmmaking. They make the action on screen believable.
I only got into the background business a couple weeks ago, but I’ve already worked on multiple sets, from the long-running television staple NCIS, to tween programming on Nick and Disney, to a small unannounced feature film. The experience, besides teaching me EXTREME patience due to sitting and waiting for hours upon hours until needed on set, has also given me an appreciation for all the work and coordination that goes on behind the scenes of a TV show or film. I mean, you’ve all seen the credits that roll after a show or movie has ended and you’ve probably wondered, “Who are these people?” Being there on set and witnessing the intricate network of communication and the complicated set-ups for lights, sound, and camera, I fully comprehended the importance of each individual and their role in the crew.
“Don’t Think”, a UCB School of Improv motto, is a simple phrase, yet a way of life for its students and members. But, let’s back up a moment; this first sentence has most likely already created some questions in your head.
What is UCB?
What the heck is “improv”?
What do you mean “Don’t Think”? I am a student; I need to think to graduate!
To begin, improv, short for improvisation, is a form of unscripted acting; it’s when actors go off the page and trust their instincts and their scene partners to form a full scene (a story with a beginning, middle, and end) from scratch. Many movies, mostly comedy (but some dramatic) have actually used improvised dialogue in their final cuts, so, odds are, you have already seen improv in action but never knew it. UCB, short for Upright Citizens Brigade, is a school that trains actors, comedians, and even folks in need of a fun hobby, how to be successful improvisers.
Alright, so improvisers make up scenes as they go… ok… wouldn’t they need to THINK to do that? The answer is no. Thinking is actually the death of good improv, or at least that’s what I’m beginning to understand as I trudge my way through UCB’s frightening, yet exhilarating, Improv 101 course.