It Factor Studios' film performance and industry workshops unfurl under the leadership of Hollywood directors and professional actors from the American Film Institute. Founder Ryan McKinney and coach to the stars Steve Whittaker apply their workplace experience to create a safe and progressive learning environment and help actors to prepare for industry difficulties such as auditioning, resumé writing, or staring contests with Jack Nicholson. The results-driven team mentors budding performers of all experience and skill levels in a wealth of techniques, including Method and Meisner, with many courses designed to complement each other.
To enable instructional shoots and commercial productions, the studio boasts full capabilities for film preparation, shooting, and editing. Students interested in the back side of the lens can sign up for instruction in film shooting, editing, and screenwriting, enabling them to stage scenes and reboot old home movies under professional conditions. In addition to workshops, events such as guest-speaker series with working or retired film professionals help pupils to garner real industry connections.
In 1913, the Sheepherder Bar & Grille’s building on Folsom Boulevard was known as the Citrus Inn, and the hoteliers supplemented their income selling produce in front of the building. A 2006 renovation restored the hotel to glory with beautiful wooden rafters, three grand fireplaces, and solid stone columns, creating a refined, rustic vibe. The food has gotten an upgrade since then, too. Guests can enjoy tender prime rib from Niman Ranch or burgers with Boar's Head bacon, traditional shepherd’s pie, or wild-caught salmon with dill-infused tartar sauce. The double-cut pork chop comes drenched in red wine sauce and apple-cinnamon butter, and the meatloaf sports a coat of house-made Jack Daniels barbecue sauce. Later, head over to the Citrus Bar (named in honor of the original establishment) for an after-dinner drink and staring contest. Guests arriving on Friday nights will find live music wafting through the restaurant, and a happy hour held from 3–7 p.m. invites diners to kick dinner off in style.
Granite Arch Climbing Center doesn’t just teach its visitors how to surmount cliff faces, it prepares them to climb out in the wild. That’s because the facility is divided into different areas that replicate the characteristics of rockfaces around the world. Clients can climb their way up the pin-scarred granite of Yosemite, the horizontal cracks characteristic of upstate New York’s Gunks, or the limestone pockets and tufas found in Thailand. In between these internationally inspired rockfaces, climbers can practice basic skills on bouldering walls and belaying paths. Classes are also available to teach clients the basics or help established climbers advance to more difficult paths. Staff can also help form lasting birthday memories with parties, in which partygoers learn the basics before blowing out their candles and eating the wall.
Bearing the titles of Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman from Professional Photographers of America, David and Ally McKay embody the keen vision and aesthetic prowess that separated good photographers from great ones. They share these skills during classes at McKay Photography Academy, where they train eyes, fingers, and imaginations to work in tandem as a snapshooting dream machine. Their classes help aspiring photographers progress from neophytes to seasoned pros. When not busy instructing the next generation of shutterbugs, David and Ally also devise photo safaris, which send small teams of photographers to capture shots of famed landmarks including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; the Lincoln Memorial of Washington, DC; or Yosemite's 60-foot statue of Yogi Bear.
If you've ever tried to beat rush-hour traffic by tethering your car with helium-filled balloons, then you know that hot-air flight should be left to the professionals. The Federal Aviation Administration–certified pilots at Sky Drifters Hot Air Ballooning embark on journeys from the Sierra Nevada foothills daily, and their company has been named one of the 10Best attractions in Sacramento. Whether piloting a small group or private flight, the balloon captains show passengers a bird’s-eye view of the rolling hills, winding rivers and finely crafted comb-overs whose majesty can only be truly appreciated from above. Their aerial transports also play host to weddings in the sky and can provide a lift to those who enjoy BASE jumping from the clouds.
The FAA-certified instructors at Future Eagles Aviation put clients behind the controls of actual aircraft as they teach them the ins and outs of aviation. Students amass skills such as navigation and cockpit familiarity on the ground in adventure flight school before lifting off in a Cessna 172 training aircraft for 30 minutes of flight time. Kids can also take to the sky during Future Eagles Aviation’s youth aviation summer camp, a weeklong foray into the world of cloud skimming and Peter Pan mimicry during which kids aged 10 and older practice on simulators and log real flight hours in training aircraft.