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Issue: Issue Fall 2012

HOLLYWOOD U

The World's Campus

(Emerson's new campus)

When Emerson College, the well respected Boston institution founded in 1880, broke ground for its Los Angeles campus, a new star was born in Hollywood.  Well known in the entertainment industry it counts 3,200 alumni who live in Los Angeles and work in the “business.”

Its new home, slated to be open the beginning of 2014, will be a head-turner.  Noted starchitect Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects design incorporates residential and learning space in one 10-story building now under construction at Sunset and Gordon.

Emerson College has maintained an institutional presence in Los Angeles since 1986, when it launched a semester-long program built around professional internships at film studios, media outlets, marketing agencies, and related enterprises.  Full enrollment will be 220 students by fall 2014.

Hollywood has long been recognized as the filmmaking capital of the world, and over the past several years the New York Film Academy and Los Angeles Film School joined the venerable American Film Institute to create the future wizards who work behind the camera.  Perched atop a hill overlooking Los Angeles in nearby Los Feliz, the AFI Conservatory offers a Master of Fine Arts degree in cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design and screenwriting.  The New York Film Academy maintains classrooms at Universal Studios (more info) and Los Angeles Film School goes so far as to put its students behind the camera during their first week of instruction in sort of a before and after experiment.

There’s no shortage of actors in Hollywood and any good actor recognizes the value of training and education.  To break into acting or sharpen their skills, actors have a variety of schools from which to choose. The American Academy of Dramatic Arts bills itself as the “first drama school in the English-speaking world.” Founded in 1884 in New York City, alumni have reached the pinnacle of theatrical success.  Located on what was once the south lot of Charlie Chaplin's studio, the  modern facility, with acting studios, a costume and prop shop,  camera technique and movement studios,  a vocal production studio and rehearsal space, and a scene shop. The campus also includes a 150-seat proscenium theatre for full productions. The library is located in one of the historic Chaplin Studio bungalows, it holds a computer lab, a screening room, a comprehensive collection of books, scripts, musical scores, DVDs, CDs, video and audio tapes, plus a wide variety of reference materials on every aspect of theatre.  Local alumni Paul Rudd and Adam Scott keep in touch with the school and visit often.

(American Academy of Dramatic Arts)       (Class in progress at the AADA.)

It requires audition for admission and acceptance into a third year of study.  Its Youth Conservatory is open to 12-16 year olds and will be featured on an upcoming Lifetime Network special in December.

Located near the famous Capitol Records building, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy prides itself on its talented faculty of actors, directors, designers, dancers, singers and choreographers.  AMDA offers both 4-year bachelor degrees and two year conservatory degrees in Acting,  Musical Theatre and Dance Theatre.  Alumna Nina Arianda received a 2012 Tony Award for Best Actress for her role as Vanda in Venus in Fur on Broadway. Nina was also nominated for a Tony Award in 2011 for portrayal of Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday on Broadway.  Gretchen Mol currently stars as Gillian on HBO’s Emmy Award-winning show Boardwalk Empire. Perhaps best known for her starring roles in the film The Notorious Bettie Page and ABC’s Life on Mars, the 1992 AMDA graduate has appeared on film opposite Matt Damon (Rounders), Leonardo DiCaprio (Woody Allen’s Celebrity), and Christian Bale and Russell Crowe (3:10 to Yuma).

While these larger schools came to Hollywood within the last decade, two schools were founded by industry legends Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg.  Actors who trained at their Hollywood-based (what?) read like a who’s who.  Even Hollywood’s state-run community college trained such notables as Oscar-winning Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman at its Theatre Academy at Los Angeles City College.  It also trains costume designers and stage technicians.  It calls itself “the best kept secret in Southern California” due to its quality instruction and moderate tuition fees.

Where would actors be without makeup artists to help them looking their best? Los Feliz based Joe Blasco Makeup School is in its fourth decade of teaching. During the 1960s, founder Joe Blasco left the Max Factor Cosmetics company, became a sought-after make-up artist for such actors as Bette Midler, Carol Burnett and Olivia Newton-John and opened his school in 1976 and following in Max Factor’s footsteps, now sells his own line of theatrical cosmetics.  Napoleon Perdis Makeup Academy concentrates on fashion and reality makeup at its Hollywood Boulevard location while Campus Hollywood’s Elegance International provides instruction in prosthetic and special affect makeup techniques for film and television.

  n a humorous note, Hollywood is chock full of schools eager to develop the budding comedian’s funny bone. The nonprofit Groundlings School of Improvisation founded in 1979 with barely 20 students now boasts over 300 participants in its day and evening comedy classes.  The Groundlings’ alumni roster includes Will Ferrell, Lisa Kudrow and Cheryl Hines of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Long form improvisation and sketch writing ate the hallmarks of the training program at the Improv Olympic Training Center West, the Acme Comedy Theatre and Bang Improv Studio.  Chicago’s famed Upright Citizens Brigade has set up shop on Franklin Avenue and also from the Windy City,  2nd City Repertory Company can be found on Hollywood Blvd.  There’s no scarcity of laughs as fledgling comedians and writers hone their craft at these schools and their on-site performance spaces.

Sort of an entertainment “one-stop shopping” is Campus Hollywood which groups makeup, music, acting and most recently, dance instruction under one big umbrella.  Elegance International for makeup was founded in 1966 and offers programs for theatre, film, prosthetics and fashion photography. The famed Musicians Institute was originally established as the Guitar Institute of  Technology and today offers degree and certificate programs for musician performers and recording artists.  The campus includes the Theatre of Arts Performing Arts Academy with classes in acting, music and dance and offers full productions at its newly acquired Theatre of Arts Arena Stage. The newest learning jewel in the Campus crown is the International  Dance Academy Hollywood with its airy and spacious dance studios preparing professional dancers for work throughout the U.S. and the world.  All forms of dance from classical ballet and jazz to the latest crazes called “street” and “funk” are taught by experienced professionals.  It’s a rigorous program with three to six hours of dance daily and homework and studying fundamentals.

“We have students from all over the world and people of all different backgrounds and levels of experience.  We welcome anybody who has a passion for dance and is interested in either pursuing a career or taking their dancing to the next level and focusing on their studies.”

While we tend to think “visual” with respect to Hollywood’s entertainment arts, without sound, even the most dazzling of special affects or dramatic subtleties would make little impact.  The Los Angeles Recording School and SAE Institute focus exclusively on sound engineering at their Sunset Boulevard locations.  Students are offered extensive courses to prepare them for jobs using the latest in digital sound equipment for music, film/TV and animation.  Industry professionals, some with Grammy and Oscar wins, share their practical experience and know-how with the next generation.   

There’s no doubt that in Hollywood the culinary arts have their place in entertainment.  This is especially so with the growing popularity of  TV’s cooking shows since Julia Childs showed the PBS audience how to debone a chicken. For today’s rising culinary stars, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts employs a faculty that includes experienced chef instructors who have the ability to cultivate well-trained graduates who are confident enough to step into any commercial kitchen.  Its Hollywood location helps students learn the way to a culinary future through specialized training in the same basic techniques, fundamentals and proficiencies as students taught at Le Cordon Bleu’s original founding school in Paris.

(American Musical and Dramatic Academy)

It’s no wonder the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce recently dubbed this world-famed community “Hollywood U”.  For nearly 100 years, Hollywood has drawn artists from around the world hoping for their big chance in the entertainment industry.  Today students come from around the world to learn about the illusive arts and sciences of the entertainment industry from seasoned professionals and Hollywood has become Hollywood U—the World’s Campus. DH