California Dreamin

LA Trip 2016

 

On the 19th February, 49 students and 6 teachers embarked on one of the largest, international trips which Walkden High School has ever organised. 

Travelling to Los Angeles was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of the students who participated and over the six days and seven nights which we were away, they were immersed in a land renowned for its rich history in film and television. 

 

After our 11 and half hour flight from Heathrow, we were excited to get going on our first night in LA so a trip to Jerry’s Famous Deli was much needed. A great night’s sleep in the beautiful hotel was bliss and prepared us well for our first activity – a full day at Universal Studios. 

Pupils were able to explore the park in their friendship groups and learn about backstage processes such as stunts, special effects and even animal actors. The Backlot Tour was the real highlight, seeing sets come to life from some classic films such as Psycho, Jaws and War of the Worlds. Students had a truly immersive experience with many of the simulators and stage shows scattered throughout the park and we were incredibly lucky to experience the Harry Potter World attraction during a sneak preview weekend. After burgers and fries, the pupils had an extremely magical day. 

Sunshine continued throughout the other activities and day after day was a real difficulty waking up to clear blue skies, 27 degree warmth and humming birds fluttering among the strelitzia. Somehow we managed to drag ourselves on to our coach every morning (driven by the fantastic Gracie) and participate in yet more mind-blowing excursions. Warner Brothers studios was a huge hit with the students who were able to walk on the set of Pretty Little Liars, Friends, Gilmore Girls and The Big Bang Theory as well as being sorted into the correct Hogwarts’ house by the sorting hat from Harry Potter. Understanding and seeing behind the scenes may have taken away some of the sparkle but this enabled our young people to really see what goes into making a film or a television show. 

Our luck struck again as our trip was planned for Oscar’s week! A walking tour of Hollywood Boulevard including the Egyptian Theatre, the Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre, took us on a historical journey through the beginnings of Hollywood. Walking in the footsteps of the stars, immortalised by cement was great fun before climbing the sweeping staircase to the Dolby Theatre entrance (we are all very proud to have walked where Leo walked!). Most surprising of all though is that the Oscars’ audience have to walk through a shopping centre to enter the theatre – who knew? 

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Next, it was time for a hands-on experience; students participated in ei-ther an acting or directing workshop at the prestigious New York Film Academy (LA chapter). The directing team got to meet and learn from a successful TV director on how to film a basic interview sequence using Scorsese’s The Departed as a model – the staff were particularly excited to hear he worked on the A-Team TV series from the 1980s! The other half of the cohort participated in an acting for film workshop allowing them to appreciate the subtlety of acting on television/film and improv-ing their use of facial expression. The morning was rounded off per-fectly with free t-shirts all round! 

In addition to all of the film and television activities, students were exposed to some cultural and fun experiences too. As part of our tour of LA, we were taken to the oldest part of the city which was established by the Spanish and were able to browse the colourful Mexican markets. An afternoon of filming at Venice Beach allowed for sampling the work of local artists, watching surfers and as our Y10 boys discovered, playing basketball with the locals. 

Our last day was a time to let loose in the beautiful area of Santa Monica. Students ‘hung out’ on the pier or spent their pocket money in the plethora of shops, buying gifts for their loved ones. With heavy hearts we boarded the coach for the final time to head to LAX for our flight home. Students were sad to leave; many claiming it had been “the best week of their lives”. We knew that the flight would be long, the weather at home rubbish and the jet lag terrible but there were no regrets and no doubts it was the best school trip ever. 

 

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