It was pouring in Burbank, on a cold Thursday morning. Without much further thought, we stepped in my car and drove. We were not sure which direction we were headed, as long as we drove somewhere more dry, warm, and friendly for a conversation. Coffee perhaps. The common destination for the common Angeleno. But I was not interviewing just any Angeleno. My interviewee is a rising gaffer and key grip in the film industry we hold dear and close to our lives who started out right here at Woodbury University and is a 7500 magazine alumni. A person who I know and am quite fond of. A wonderful local to be around. Kyle Thor grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, and lived in Los Angeles most of his life. I frankly could tell he was very familiar with the area. Most locals know that Los Angeles is very diverse city and every region has its own distinct characteristics.
As we drove past many potential establishments, I saw “Mariscos” in the distance, a quaint, yet beautifully set and tasteful restaurant, near the heart of Burbank. I had always wanted to eat there, I said. Turns out Kyle is quite familiar with that restaurant. He’s stopped there many times for a bite after work.
"Coffee culture is very big out here, going out to get a cup of coffee is just a thing we do."
Kyle reminisced about his time living in Burbank, which is his favorite place to live so far. Burbank was the first place for him where he went to college, to Woodbury. He enjoyed venturing off and living on his own in the city for the first time where he began working in the film industry, made many friends, and was able to support himself. It was quite a liberating feeling.
“This place has a lot of great memories”, he said. He remembers his favorite hookah lounge, Gitana, along with other local bars and restaurants, where he felt like a regular. He loved having the feeling that he was a part of a family and for that reason, “Burbank will always have a special place for me”. Unfortunately for him and many other youth, Burbank can be quite expensive and so he was inclined to move to Alhambra.
One great way to get introduced to the industry as a beginner is to work as a PA on set, according to Kyle. A PA could go to every department, because they tend to help every department on set, whether it be costume, grip, camera, etc. “You have the ability to gain knowledge from every department, and not every PA does that.” he states, “Get on a set, get in a production office, get somewhere and learn. You have to learn, you never stop learning in this industry” he continues.
Experience is very important, yet the theoretical knowledge is also a key element to the process. The experience, compliments the knowledge you could get from school or a potential mentor. That foundational school knowledge is often set aside when you are gaining experience, and it is only in the later years of experience where you realize how crucial the science behind each action really is. “A good grip has a good knowledge of physics,” for example, as he continues to describe, and it is difficult to marry information to anything when you don’t have the experience to go with it.
The conversation was near its end, as the rain kept pouring, and I asked what he could say as a final statement before we call it a day. He replied with a very hard yet hopeful response: “This industry is a marathon. You’re not going to get straight out of college and instantly be a DP or director, or a producer, that just doesn’t happen. It’s a long trek. You’re going to have to do it for a while. Take your time, don’t get stressed about not getting work right away. It’s gonna be slow” Kyle continues. “You have to go out and hustle for it.”