There's no better way to get behind the scenes in Hollywood than to be in a studio audience. No matter what your tastes, you'll probably find something you'd enjoy watching as it's created, especially during peak production season (August through March).
Be prepared: know how long the filming is expected to last, bring a photo ID (you won't get in without it) and know the age limits. Most sets allow anyone more than 18 years old, but a few have lower limits and you'll need an ID to prove your age.
Studio Audience Ticket Sources
If you're not picky about what you see, you'll often find people on Hollywood Boulevard giving away tickets to be in the studio audience to watch something being taped. You can also pick them up at Universal Studios. If you've got something more specific in mind, it's a good idea to get tickets ahead of time.
TV Studio Audiences: Sitcoms and Other Shows: Audiences Unlimited manages the audiences for most of the major networks' sitcoms filmed in LA. Expect to spend three to four hours watching a 30-minute show being filmed.
Game Shows and Talk Shows: TV Tix provides tickets for several game shows, reality shows and talk shows filmed in the Los Angeles area.
Talk Shows: Get tickets to Jimmy Kimmel Live and the Late Late Show as well as mini musical concerts and some television specials through One Iota.
Reality Shows: On Camera Audiences recruits studio audiences for a host of reality shows and some game shows.
Other Filming: Onset Productions can get you studio audience tickets to shows on ESPN or MTV, comedy show tapings and others.
- Be a Movie Extra: This one is better than just watching. Movies need lots of extras, and while they don't pay you in cash, the opportunity is priceless and they sometimes offer door prizes. They schedule your day in advance, so you can plan your travel.
Tickets to Specific Shows
Ellen Degeneres Show: The only way to get reserved tickets for Ellen's studio audience is directly through its website. For last-minute seats, call 818-954-5929 the day of the show, before noon.
Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune: You can order up to 8 tickets from this site - or get them for larger groups if you call the telephone number they list.
Saturday Night Live: Scroll to the bottom of the NBC ticket page to find how to get studio audience tickets for SNL. Other NBC shows are scheduled through Audiences Unlimited.
- The Price is Right: Films at CBS Studios and their website has an easy feature for you to print out tickets
No matter which show you want to watch being filmed, this studio audience etiquette guide will help you make sure you know the ropes. It also offers helpful tips by show type.
Other Ways to Find a Film Shoot
Filming Schedules: The "Shoot Sheet:" A few years ago, you could stop by the permit office and pick up a list of everything being filmed in the Los Angeles area, complete with street addresses. However, those lists are no longer available to the general public, and we mention them here only to tell you that in case you read about it in an outdated guide somewhere else.
Visitors in the know can still find a shoot, though - if they know what to look for. It's a single, 8.5 x 11-inch piece of paper, usually colored, taped to a sign or post. Typically, it has one word printed on it in large letters, right side up and upside down and sometimes with an arrow in between. Back in the days when Malcolm in the Middle was filming, it would just say "Middle." They're put up for the crew, but you can follow them, too. Just be prepared. It takes hours on end to set up for a very short filming session and the stars won't appear until everything is ready.
Another easy clue that something's going on nearby is trucks. Lots of them, the size of a U-Haul truck but plain white. For bigger productions, you may also see white trailers. If you find half a parking lot full of them, or even 2 or 3 parked close to each other on the street, something is probably going to be filmed in the vicinity. It might be a commercial, an independent film or almost anything else. It's easy enough to stop and see what's going on and as long as you stay out of the way, crews will generally let you watch.