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A YEP’s Perspective: A Journey Through the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

By Luis Lagera

For years, art museums have showcased the splendor of human creativity. But personally, I was never satisfied with single frames. Why not show even more frames? Hundreds even! Thousands! Perhaps they could all be stitched together, creating some sort of… moving image? Do we even have this technology?

The answer is yes, and it’s on full display at The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The YEP Class of 2024 enjoyed a guided tour, and it was certainly a must-do experience for any film aficionado.

It had been almost two years since my last visit, so I noticed plenty of exhibits had changed in the interim. While ‘Bruce the Shark’ was hanging in his usual spot, new things of note include a fittingly raunchy retrospective of John Waters’ career, an exhibit spotlighting the production of Spike Lee’s “Boyz n the Hood,” and an explanation of the Dykstraflex technology used in “Star Wars” (if John Dykstra is reading this, thanks for the amazing TIE fighter scenes).

A truly memorable moment occurred when I was strolling through an exhibit for “The Godfather.” After watching audition videos for the role of Don Corleone (including Marlon Brando’s makeup test that won over some apprehensive studio executives), I turned the corner and walked into a faithful recreation of Don Corleone’s office. The desk, the chair, those window blinds – I don’t think I had ever been so gobsmacked at the sight, having only ever seen it on screen. It may have been an actual breathtaking moment for me. If you only had to see one thing at this museum, this would be it.

It was that exhibit and many others that reminded me why I pursue a career in the entertainment industry. It is one thing to enjoy a story as part of an audience, and it’s an entirely different thing to produce a story. Creating a living story through motion pictures gives that indescribable feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself, and the Academy Museum does a wonderful job highlighting the village that makes these masterpieces; multiple departments and hundreds of creatives coming together to make something wonderful to behold.

It’s safe to say that my YEP compatriots and I enjoyed the experience. Seeing the technologies and practices behind our favorite works was truly enlightening, and for a day, it was nice to nerd out over miniatures, camera lenses, and fries at Fanny’s with friends. Thanks, HPA!

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