At the beginning of the summer, I road tripped across the country to the small town of Lone Pine, California to start my summer experience. I am a rising junior, and this past semester I finished the process of creating a self determined major in Documentary Studies. I also recently declared a minor in Studio Art. Because of my love for documentary, and film in general, I was super excited to learn about all of the possibilities for creativity in Lone Pine. Despite being a small town, Lone Pine and its surrounding area have a strong connection to the film industry- its stunning natural beauty and relative proximity to LA make it a favorite Hollywood filming location. Django Unchained (2012), Iron Man (2008), Tremors (1990), and countless more feature films, documentaries and commercials have been filmed here. Lone Pine was also the shooting location for hundreds of old Hollywood Westerns, a genre I was able to learn all about during my time interning at the Museum of Western Film History.
During my time at the museum, my two main projects have been creating and maintaining new social media accounts and designing an exhibit about a short film recently shot in Lone Pine. While working on social media, I have been trying to publicize the importance of film history and make old Westerns appeal to younger audiences. It has been amazing for me to learn about women and indigenous people who were working in old Hollywood, a film landscape that was even harder for marginalized people to break into than it is today. I have had access to the museum’s extensive video and print library and have been learning so much about film history, which will definitely continue to inform me during my future work.
During my time in Lone Pine, I was supposed to be connected with the town’s Film Commissioner, who controls film permitting for shoots in the area. However, he has been in the hospital recently and hasn’t been able to work. Even though this part of my experience did not work out as planned, I was still able to work on the set of a student documentary film being partially shot at Manzanar National Historic Site, a former WWII Japanese internment camp about ten miles from Lone Pine.
Through all of these experiences in Lone Pine, I have been able to build my knowledge of film history, learn more about the documentation and preservation of local history, and gain valuable experience helping on set of a low-budget documentary film. I am so grateful to Skidmore and the CDC for making this experience possible for me, it has been the summer of a lifetime.