Monday, February 01, 2010


As Director of Production for Freshi Films, I've had the opportunity over the last several months to work with Raleigh Studios, a worldwide corporation that runs several motion picture / television facilities around the world. I'm creating a series of promotional videos highlighting their services - and have spent quite a bit of time at three of their properties in Hollywood, Manhattan Beach and Playa Vista.

The Hollywood facility is the oldest continuously operating studio in Los Angeles, and dates back to 1915, when it began operations with the production of a Mary Pickford film. . At one point, it was the base for Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and many others. Visiting that facility, curiously enough, brought back a lot of memories for me, though I'd never been there. As the son of a 20th Century-Fox executive, I was fortunate to have spent a great deal of time at a boy at that legendary studio. The Fox studio of that period was a utilitarian place - it was strictly a working studio and, outside of building facades and related areas, mostly lacked today's landscaping, elegantly paved walkways, and the other trappings of a modern industrial park. When I recently visited the Fox lot, which now serves as the headquarters of an infinitely larger multi-national corporation, I saw very little that was familiar. It wasn't bad - Fox and other studios have incredible facilities - but it somehow lacked a bit of the magic of the old movie factory.

Raleigh Hollywood, though state of the art, still retains much of the atmosphere of the independent studio (which Fox really was back then, by today's standards). It's a working studio that still shows its history almost everywhere you walk. Freshi's sister organization, the International Family Film Festival, holds a film festival on the lot every year; we screen on the lot in landmark theaters that have hosted the screen's great legends. It's no accident that the three theaters are now called the Pickford, the Chaplin and the Fairbanks. You can imagine Charlie Chaplin just around the next corner...

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