Columbia’s Semester in LA Program Moves to 'I Love Lucy’s' Former Home

Semester in LA students now attend classes and meet industry experts at Sunset Las Palmas Studios in the heart of Hollywood.

Columbia College Chicago’s Semester in Los Angeles (SiLA) program has moved to a new Hollywood home: Sunset Las Palmas Studios, which is located at 1040 North Las Palmas Avenue in Los Angeles. SiLA provides an immersive experience for students of all majors as they take classes with industry experts and participate in internships specific to their field. Open to juniors, seniors, and graduate students, courses cover such topics as pitching, negotiations, television writing, editing trailers, and career planning. In addition, the program provides networking opportunities, including hosting a speaker’s series with today’s movers and shakers and pairing students with alumni mentors. 

Sunset Las Palmas Studios’ history dates to the 1920s when a former general manager for Charlie Chaplin’s movie studio built three production stages and several bungalows. Then called Hollywood Studios, the facility housed such Hollywood luminaries as Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks as well as movie-mogul-in-the-making Howard Hughes. Over the years the lot has changed names and owners, including Francis Ford Coppola who named it Zoetrope Studios.

The studio had one of the first sound stages, bringing filmmakers from the outdoors to the indoors. It’s also where Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz filmed I Love Lucy — the West Coast’s first primetime comedy filmed before a live studio audience. In later years, the lot produced shows such as JeopardyStar Search, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, and more recently La La Land. Beginning in 2017, the lot has undergone extensive modernization, converging creative offices with premier production facilities. 

Associate Dean of Los Angeles Programs at Columbia Karen Loop believes that having the program on the studio lot is integral to the student experience. “SiLA is one of the oldest study-away programs in Los Angeles, and we’re fortunate that we’ve always been on a studio lot,” she says. “The students really benefit from learning and networking in an environment that is steeped in Hollywood history and embraces the production technologies and resources of today. We’re excited with our new partners at Sunset Las Palmas.”