Invasion: The Backlot Tour

One of the places I invented for Intrepid Force: Invasion was Heritage Studios in Hollywood. According to the story, it was one of the old Hollywood studios that one of the character’s great-uncles had revitalized back in the early 20th century. The backlot set was inhabited by androids of characters from the films produced there, and they served as a kind of security force. At the time I wrote Invasion, I had not visited any of the film studios in L.A., but I made up for that about ten years ago when I flew out to California for the DAMAH Film Festival at Culver City Studios and stayed around to tour Universal and Warner Brothers. The studio in my story is a combination of Culver City Studios and Universal more than any of the others.  I’ve since visited Paramount also. One of the more unique aspects of Paramount is that it shares the same city block with a cemetery. Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury wrote a mystery novel, A Graveyard for Lunatics, that was based on Paramount and the Hollywood of the 1940s.

Culver City, Universal City, Hollywood, Burbank, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica are all one continuous city at this point. The area around Santa Monica is absolutely the worst to drive through. The rest weren’t so bad.

Culver City Studios used to be RKO Studios. “King Kong,” “King of Kings” (about Jesus), and “Gone With the Wind” were filmed there. Tara, the mansion in “Gone With the Wind”, is still there. It serves as an office building, but it still looks like Tara. (I’m including links to a drone tour and timeline. Click on the pictures.) Sadly, the backlot sets from the 1920s are gone. They were burned down when “Gone With the Wind” was being filmed to simulate the burning of Atlanta.  It was also the site of the Star Trek pilot, “The Cage,” starring Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike. Damah, the film festival I attended, featured Scott Derrickson as one of the keynotes. He was there to receive an award, but delivered an interesting lecture too. He talked about working on “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” His more recent projects include “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and “Dr. Strange.” I wrote about his “truth in the dark” approach to filmmaking in an earlier post.

Culver City Studios Drone Tour:

Universal Studios still has a fantastic backlot tour. It includes a European section (where monster movies like Dracula and the Wolfman were filmed), a western town, an urban street section, a town built around a small lake where Jaws is known to lurk, Bates Motel and Psycho House, and many other things. (I’m supplying a link to one of the videos on Youtube for you.)

Universal Studios Website:

Universal Studios Backlot Tour:

Old Uncle Enoch’s studio plays a more major role in Intrepid Force III, so watch for it. This is the last post about Intrepid Force: Invasion for now. I’ll see you next week!

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