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Victim 655321
02-28-2005, 11:29 AM
So the big event might be happening soon, and I wanted to start a thread to sort of help myself out. This sounds very newb-ish, but my biggest goal is to hit the ground running. I've got 3 scripts - one being written and rewritten, another currently being rewritten, and one hot off the presses.

I don't want to fall in the cracks and wander around L.A. like a fvcking tourist. Being in L.A. doesn't help me much if I'm doing the same ol', same ol' sending-letters-in-getting-rejections-back format.

Obviously, this post is directed at those already scraping the streets and already out there. What I've found over the course of my life is a wealth of experiences where I've felt that if I could just go back, I would have a perfect gameplan and be at the best spot possible.

I was curious if anyone currently out there feels that way, and what they would do if they could "start over" or just come out and get going. Money's not a problem, and my income is something I can do anywhere, being a trader where I do 90% of it late at night or EARLY in the morning. That leaves me the possibility of nearly free reign during the daytime.

Again, the goal is to hit the ground running - to just completely blitz myself around.

So let me start out the question like this: I move to L.A., find an apartment and get comfortable. Now what?

Give me best-case scenarios, in other words, no limits or whatever.

count woodrow
02-28-2005, 01:14 PM
Hey Victim,

My two cents ... it sounds like you're revving up for a sprint and I think the race you've entered is more of a long-distance classic -- like one of those 100 mile desert runs. Through sand and cactii. Over mountains. With snakes. And coyotes.

I appreciate your enthusiasm and it will aid you. But know that what you want is a career as a writer, not a quick score. (Of course a quick score would be great and you'll take it if it comes, but those tend to be the exception.)

With that in mind ...

Think about getting a job in the industry. Working for a production company or a studio or an agency or management place. Get a foot in the door anywhere you can. Do an internship. Especially since you say your dough is covered by day trading.

Then ... don't hesitate to do the mail-out-the-query-get-the-rejection-or-acceptance-back routine. Can't hurt. You might even meet some people willing to give you feedback or even rep you. Find anyway you can to get your scripts read. Getting them read and out there is the only way to make the kind of quick hit you're contemplating. And it's a good way to start laying the foundation of a career. Relationships are the name of the game so do anything you can to foster them.

Polish your scripts. Write more scripts. Meet other writers. Maybe get into a writing group. Go to writing conferences. Find any way you can to meet anyone you can.

Find something out here you like to do that has nothing to do with writing. Learn to surf. Go mountain biking. You're moving here to live, not coming for a two month business trip.

Or ... maybe on your first day here, you'll walk up to Steven Spielberg, pitch him your best logline, sell him your script on the spot, insist on directing it yourself, then sit back and watch the money roll in.

Nobody knows anything.

CW

MacG
02-28-2005, 01:49 PM
That fact that you'll have income from a secure job that you can tend to in the AM or late PM puts you waaaaaaay ahead of the game, IMO.

For most aspiring writers (yours truly included), the biggest obstacle is the Almighty Dollar, and where it will come from to cover next month's rent. So my advice to you is internships. Check out www.entertainmentcareers.net (http://www.entertainmentcareers.net). There will be paying job positions, as well, but there are gonna be countless people with better qualifications (and more contacts) who'll snap up those positions.

Again, since money won't be your main concern, non-paying internships at studios or production companies is your best in. You'll learn skills that'll look very attractive to future employers, and I know tons of people whose temporary, non-paying position was turned into a permanent paying gig.

As CW said, don't give up on the query letters...and don't give up on the writing! That included the rewriting of existing material. You may feel your work is 100% right now, but flipping through some A-list material may teach you a few tricks you hadn't thought of that would serve your stories well.

Other than that, I wish you the best of luck! Keep us posted....

-M :hat

Victim 655321
03-01-2005, 11:56 AM
Appreciate the advice.

I'm in no way expecting a sprint, though. Granted, I'm an outsider, but I'm marginally aware of the environment I'll be walking into - or at least as much as an outsider could be. I'm not looking for a fight, but I'm definetely preparing for an uphill trek.

This all sounds terribly naive.

Either way, thank you for the tips.

kullervo
03-01-2005, 03:12 PM
I came out here to start the MFA screenwriting program at UCLA. I had five scripts under my arm. And I tell you this-- I would not have come out here for any other reason. I've had and fired managers, I've met lots of interesting folks, I've won a lot of contests. But I would not have moved out here until there was money on the table and a career to start. I can be a wannabe from anywhere. This town is full of them, and it's a lot harder to keep your enthusiasm when everyone in the local Starbucks is on their laptop working on a script.

kullervo

Odocoileus virginianus
03-01-2005, 08:02 PM
If money isn't a problem, I'd recommend branching out. Take acting lessons, and try to get tied into a community of actors and/or comedians. Take film production classes and/or make your own short films. Do what you can to build a network, because success, IMHO, is a combination of talent, training, work ethic, networking, and luck.

It's not that hard work and talent don't count, it's just that the two alone are not sufficient. When anybody in power, or connected to anybody in power, thinks about trying out a new writer, they prefer people they know.

Larry Brody's TV Writing from the Inside Out has a chapter on the aspiring writer's life. Which neighborhoods to live in - Studio City, Burbank, Venice, Los Feliz, good; anyplace more than 20 miles away from the intersection of the 405 and 101, bad. What apartment complexes to look for - those with pools are preferable. How to dress, even, - casual or dressy casual for those of us who don't look like Mormon missionaries.

I've been in LA going on 4 years, PA'd a lot of TV shows, made small talk with a few staffwriters and showrunners, and Brody's advice seems spot on.

writerly
03-11-2005, 12:12 AM
The best thing you have going for you is your drive -- go for it. that's what I'm saying. And the fact you don't have to worry about $$ maybe as much as the next person... but once you get here, you'll see all the good, bad, and the ugly and (at least I did...) end up wishing you'd done it a lot sooner. And when the city gets to be too much, drive up the PCH to Santa Barbara or San Fran -- it's totally awesome.

When you do get here, you'll see that it's no so much a sprint or a race as a huge fishbowl/ocean and you're just a guppy.

Best of luck,

P.S. Live on the westside, get a car, and if you want to get a dog/cat -- adopt -- because they put down a lot of animals out here.

Hope that helps. :-)

filmcarver
03-11-2005, 09:43 AM
I came out here to start the MFA screenwriting program at UCLA. I had five scripts under my arm. And I tell you this-- I would not have come out here for any other reason. I've had and fired managers, I've met lots of interesting folks, I've won a lot of contests. But I would not have moved out here until there was money on the table and a career to start. I can be a wannabe from anywhere. This town is full of them, and it's a lot harder to keep your enthusiasm when everyone in the local Starbucks is on their laptop working on a script.


One the best posts above. Nothing in life will "just happen", it will move forward only with a solid business plan that begins with existing respect you have earned with bonafide industry contacts who want your success. Kidding yourself about success with anything less than supreme effort risks wasting the best years of your life, unless only the journey matters....and there is merit in that for sure.

Best of luck

Micksterman
03-16-2005, 11:45 AM
Was only looking at "101 habits of successful screenwriters" last night. Some were v. lucky and made the right connection pretty early. Others, like Ron Bass, worked hard at it whilst holding down another career and only when they were pretty sure did they decide to quit the day job. One guy drove to LA and gave himself 5 years to hit the motherlode. Think he wrote something like 14 specs before he took off. The way I see it, being an outsider, is that you should write some more. Develop your portfolio so that you've got say 5 or 6 feature scripts. I know it takes time but if you've got the drive you'll do it. It's a lot nicer schlepping around half a dozen scripts and waiting for feedback than with 3.

visionaryi
03-16-2005, 11:32 PM
I wish, oh how I wish, I could move to L.A.
The vibe, the business, the people...hell, SAMUEL FRENCH BOOKSTORE.
Long way from Texas to Tinseltown.
Should've done it in my 20's...screw the Liberal Arts Degree. Would trade it for the latest Hollywood Creative Directory in a heartbeat.
A mortgage,(no kids yet, thankfully), a wife(not wanting to move w/out at least 100k or a Bizillion dollar Spec sale, whichever comes first), a mortgage, no kids yet, thankfully, and an OFFICE SPACE-sized HATRED for my 9-5...These are the ingredients for a happy man.
Ah well...one way to bust up a pity party is a nice fat heaping helping of WRITING A DAMN GOOD SPEC...
v

bottomlesscup
03-17-2005, 12:28 AM
I'm moving out January 2007, for good or bad.

If I write and save money at the rate I have been, I'll have $25,000 and seven solid scripts. Not enough, but a good start.

billythrilly7
03-17-2005, 03:26 PM
That's the way to do it, bottomless...Work your butt off, save a small fortune, prepare the scripts, come out here and give it everything you got.

Live off the money and do everything possible to start that career.

$25,000 buys you at least a year. It depends on what kind of living conditions and lifestyle you want.

Roommate or no roommate.

Car or Bus.

But $25K gives you a solid year+

Well done.

sonofdoorkeeper
03-17-2005, 03:48 PM
Billythrilly used the sentence "Car or Bus" in his previous posting.

I'm just curious: is the bus ever a viable alternative to the car in Los Angeles?

Would public transport be a possibility for people without a car?

billythrilly7
03-17-2005, 03:49 PM
It's a possibility, but....

It's horrendous taking the bus in L.A. I won't lie to you. I've never been more fearful for the survival of the human race than the few times I've taken an L.A. bus...

BUT...

...if the money isn't there or you'd rather use the money for freedom to write, then ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

I live in Hollywood which is similar to NYC and I did that on purpose. You can walk to everything you need. Food, movies, whatever. I have a car, but driving in L.A. can drive you insane. I rarely use it.

Rental cars are like $40 a day, so if you did need a car to get to your big Warner Bros meeting that's also an option.

I guess it depends on your financial situation and personal perferences and toleration level.

But the bus is an option. They run in all directions all the time.

TonyRob
03-17-2005, 04:36 PM
If you do have to take a Metro bus, make sure you get a day job that's close to where you live and not one that takes two-and-a-half hours to get to and two hours to get home from because it's seventeen miles away and Metro sucks. That gets old, quick. (Nothing like turning a nine hour day into a thirteen-and-a-half hour day, for no good reason.)

Other than that, yeah, depending on where you live, anything and everything you could possibly want is within walking distance. And if you're comfortable walking, you can keep re-defining "walking distance." Shoot, when I was living in L.A. (before I started working), I walked anywhere from five to twelve miles every day, just for sh!ts and giggles, and got into the best shape of my life.

roscoegino
03-17-2005, 08:55 PM
The key to making LA more efficient is to expand the subway system. Driving has become an excuse for being late.

billythrilly7
03-17-2005, 09:41 PM
Don't get me started on the subway system we need in this hellhole.

Since we don't have one, we should go to the odd and even license plate plan.

First number in license odd, you can drive on Mon/Wed.

First number in license even, you can drive on Tues/Thurs.

Everyone can drive on Friday/Sat/Sun except...

Vanity plates can ONLY drive on Sundays from 10AM-1PM.

And only one license plate sequence per household address.

Ya hear that celebrities!!? I don't care if you have 10 cars. They all have either an odd or even number.

I know they'll be scandals.

On Extra Tonight: Does Leonardo Dicaprio have both odd and even license plates? Are celebrities getting special treatment?

Whatever. We'll get it worked out.

I'm watching you Leo. Don't even try it.

JustinoXV
03-18-2005, 12:51 AM
" Don't get me started on the subway system we need in this hellhole."

Beverly Hills and the other west side cities finally dropped their opposition to running the red line all the way to Santa Monica. The city council had a vote on it, and they voted to extend it. It'll be years as have to do the engineer study at all.

The Los Angeles MTA says they'll have another train built to Culver City around 2010.

I was in Los Angeles from Dec. to Febuary. I spent one month in Pasadena, and two months in Venice.

When I was in Pasadena every time it rained, some disaster struck the above ground light rail (the Gold Line). Incidents like trees falling on the tracks, cars running around the headlines and being run over by the train, etc. So Los Angeles does need more subways (they only have the red line).

I had a temp job in Tarzana while I lived in Sherman Oaks and it took me about 2 and one half hours to get to work and the same to get back.

Los Angeles doesn't have a central district or city where most of the work is concentrated, like New York does (Manhattan). That's another frustration.

And some bus routes don't run all that frequently at night. I once had a job at LAX (when I lived in Venice). I had to wait 2 hours for the bus in the RAIN.

After going through that, I decided a break from LA was warranted. So now I'm in the South visiting fam, and in April I'm back to New York.

landis26
03-18-2005, 02:06 PM
I had a temp job in Tarzana while I lived in Sherman Oaks

Two and a half hours?! Wow... I lived in Sherman Oaks, up until recently, and Tarzana isn't that far. Did you take the Ventura bus, or walk?

visionaryi
03-18-2005, 04:25 PM
Are there any websites(besides DONE DEAL) that deal specifically w/Moving to & Surviving in L.A.???

jkk808
03-18-2005, 04:39 PM
Are there any websites(besides DONE DEAL) that deal specifically w/Moving to & Surviving in L.A.???

Yes.

JustinoXV
03-18-2005, 09:21 PM
I'm sorry, that was a typo. I worked in Tarzana when I lived in Pasadena. I took a bus to the gold line to the red line to a Ventura Blvd bus.

That's why it took so long.

landis26
03-19-2005, 09:59 AM
Okay, makes sense.

reddery
03-21-2005, 10:16 AM
hey victim,

I am the Antichrist and Socrates drank my pee, just to get that out of the way...

I've never been to LA, except to go to Disneyland... and that was a long time ago. So i have no idea how it's done...

I figure you need to have a Agent before moving there, or it's going to be hell trying to get a job as a writer.

www.hollywoodawards.com/conferences.html (http://www.hollywoodawards.com/conferences.html)

for a hefty price you can go there and pitch your script, i've never done it and just found it surfin the web. But sounded like it's right up you alley

good luck in LA and watch out for the devilish Antichrist

BeefMissile
03-21-2005, 11:19 AM
I would get a copy of the great non-fiction book; Inside Hollywood, A Screenwriters Guide to LA. The book is a great resource for everything you may need or want in SoCal/LA. Check www.bn.com or www.bookfinder.com for details.

:smokin

RKBentley
03-21-2005, 12:24 PM
What's the author's name, BM?

writerly
03-21-2005, 11:38 PM
I wish, oh how I wish, I could move to L.A.
The vibe, the business, the people...hell, SAMUEL FRENCH BOOKSTORE.
Long way from Texas to Tinseltown.
Should've done it in my 20's...screw the Liberal Arts Degree. Would trade it for the latest Hollywood Creative Directory in a heartbeat.
A mortgage,(no kids yet, thankfully), a wife(not wanting to move w/out at least 100k or a Bizillion dollar Spec sale, whichever comes first), a mortgage, no kids yet, thankfully, and an OFFICE SPACE-sized HATRED for my 9-5...These are the ingredients for a happy man.
Ah well...one way to bust up a pity party is a nice fat heaping helping of WRITING A DAMN GOOD SPEC...
v

do it, do it now, man!!! I did and I wasn't in my 20s and I've NEVER regretted it. I was fortunate because my husb. wanted to go as well. There's LOTS of reasons for coming out, not the least of which is career, and great things happenned when we got out here. but it is expensive, anyway, hang in there!

writerly
03-21-2005, 11:40 PM
The Big Blue Bus in SM seems ok (though I've never taken it)... try and live on the westside...

JustinoXV
03-22-2005, 02:13 AM
" The Big Blue Bus in SM seems ok (though I've never taken it)... try and live on the westside."

It is okay, but it stops running after 11pm or so. Sucks if you have to work late.

Also, while living on the Westside, you may or may not find work there. And even if you do, it may not be the best work.

After I left Pasadena (there I had the long commute to Tarzana), I was on the Westside and I did temp and various assorted jobs. I was in Venice and sometimes I did work in Santa Monica. At other points I had to go MidWilshire, which was about an hour's commute.

The westside also had some MTA buses running through it (which are 24 hours but run like once an hour or less at nights), and the Green buses (Culver City) too.

I do think the westside is a nice area, and I'm sure anyone with a car will love it. This winter it was awfully (rain) but I'm told that winter was freak weather.

Willoughby
03-22-2005, 01:33 PM
I'm so glad I found this thread! I usually don't drop into the business section, but this is perfect for me because I'm moving to LA this Tuesday! (The one after Easter, not today).

Well, Departure Day is Tuesday, I'll probably get there around Friday or Sat.

This is more frightening than when I moved to London without a job or place to live. At least there I knew as long as I found an apt in zone 1 I could probably get to work in short order. Living tied to my car and driving such an intense traffic center is scary.

I hate driving. And Mexican food. And sunlight gives me headaches. So for me L.A is like democracy: It's the worst possible option, except for all the others.

I'm looking to work with a temp-agency at first. Does anyone here have experience with them? Or could you recommend a good neighborhood to live in? I'd love to hear the take of someone out there now who's got a good lay of the land.

Thanks!

landis26
03-22-2005, 02:43 PM
Bring a vehicle. Not having a car in LA sucks! I know, I went without one for a year. I went to an early meeting at Disney in Burbank, via Sherman Oaks. I got to the gate and they told me my meeting was postponed. Thank God I had a car! If I had to bus it, man, what a bitch that would have been!

Having a car also allows you to enjoy LA. Think about it, you're living in the crappy section of Hollywood, and you're having a bad day. Low on money. The script you have so much hope for is getting nothing but passes. You're bummed!... So you drive out to Malibu and sit on the pier, or the beach at Paradise Cove. It's a beautiful day, and that other idea you had for a movie comes into your mind. The suicidal tendencies begin to lift, and you realise what a great place this can be. Because if there's nothing else out here, there's always hope...

Now if you had to bus it to the ocean? The news headline might read;

"WANNA-BE SCREENWRITER TAKES HOSTAGES ON MTA BUS ON 10 FREEWAY... NEWS AT 11"

jkk808
03-22-2005, 02:55 PM
Having a car in LA is one more way to want you to commit suicide. Because driving in LA sucks like nobody's business.

Traffic is always bad. No one knows how to drive. Everyone's on their cell phone.

As for jobs...try this site:

www.ihatemylife.us/jobs.html (http://www.ihatemylife.us/jobs.html)

It's a decent resource for how to hustle work in LA.

No idea how current any of the info is.

As for a good place to live? It's all relative to where you want to work and where you want to play. And how often you want to get robbed.

Ravenlocks01
03-23-2005, 09:56 PM
Willoughby, where are you coming from? Where are you staying when you arrive? What field are you in job-wise?

If you don't have a place yet, check craigslist and/or join Westside Rentals to find one, although you'll discover it's a challenge unless you have a job.

Put your resume up on Monster once you get here. If it's a good resume, recruiters will be getting in touch with you, usually about temp or temp-to-perm positions. Answering job ads on Monster is pretty pointless. I still do it, but I've never had any luck with them. But recruiters do look at the resumes.

Also check craigslist for jobs, you're more likely to get responses when you apply for positions you find there, at least in my experience. Just don't apply for any in my field. ;)

There are a ton of temp agencies. I recommend checking job listings in your field and seeing how many are listed by temp agencies (in my field it was a lot) (and try CareerBuilder for that, that's about all it's good for), then contact those temp agencies first when you arrive.

I just moved out here about a month ago, so I'm probably going through or have gone through pretty much what you'll be going through. PM me if you want more info.

Oh, and depending on where you're coming from, you may not find the traffic is that bad. Yeah, it sucks, but to me it feels pretty much like home.

Oh, and as far as driving down to the ocean when you've got the blues about your screenwriting career and all, it'll take you forever to get there and the price of gas is sky-high, so... not always a pick-me-up. :)

One more thing. Budget for parking expenses, if you haven't already.

Willoughby
03-23-2005, 11:51 PM
I'm coming from the Mid-West, so it'll be quite a drive. I used to check Craigslist all the time, but people wanted to meet me before saying anything for sure, and I can't fault them for it. So I'll probably move into a hostel for at least the first week and see how it goes from there.

LA is more green than I thought, and I get more out of trees than I do from the ocean, so as long as there are a few trees in the general area, I'll be fine.

Temping sounds good as I may be shooting an indie short back home in June, so temp jobs for the first few months might help me make contacts and check out the job scene before making any commitments (assuming anyone wants any of me). Also, my ex may want to take me on an all expense paid trip to Stratford this fall, so temping until I find something tempting is the plan so far.

I'm hoping the traffic will be more of a pain than a risk to life and limb. I did a 45-min each way commute for more than a year so my real concern is fending off crazy speed demons while figuring out what lane to be in (yes, I already have Thomas Guide).

How are things working out for you, Raven?

Willoughby
03-24-2005, 12:06 AM
Oh, and my field is in film and tv production. I have a degree in that from Boston U. I've directed a piece for the Boston First Night celebrations starring poet Frank Bidart (which may or may not have aired on PBS) and assistant-produced two more for the same client with Derek Walcott and Donald Hall.

I interned with the reality show Earth 2000 in London were I assisted Sir Timothy Ackroyd with the casting process. My tasks included creating a searchable index of video footage of our potential cast members. In my gap year I spent six months as an office junior at the American Council on International Studies (London) and taught English in rural Tanzania.

I spent three years at BU working in the media library (creating another searchable video index and assisting professors with maximizing the experience of media in their classrooms) and am a certified Irish whiskey taster.

Is that your field? ;-)

Ravenlocks01
03-24-2005, 12:10 AM
If you like palm trees, you'll be fine. Personally I love them.

You don't have to worry about fending off speed demons when you're creeping along at 2 mph. :p But when traffic is moving I probably qualify as a speed demon myself.

I've had a few setbacks since I got here, but overall things are going pretty well so far.

Best of luck to you with your move.

Ravenlocks01
03-24-2005, 12:12 AM
P.S. Nope, I'm in Human Resources. So we're safe.

:D

emwitty
03-24-2005, 09:28 AM
This is kind of a stupid question, but I'm moving to LA soon, too, and am wondering if I should change my cell phone number to an LA number? Will potential employers, apartment renters and/or roommates call you back with a non-LA number? Also, which area code is better to have -- 310 or 323 ... or doesn't it matter? Personally, I like 310.

Ravenlocks01
03-24-2005, 12:56 PM
I didn't change mine, and I haven't had a problem. A few people have asked me what area code that is, and I just tell them it's my cell. Your street address is the main thing.

writerly
03-24-2005, 11:29 PM
Willoughby,

there's so many places to live. you can always choose, marina/venice/santa monica because with the "June Gloom" and marine layers we don't get much sun in the mornings. :)

a car helps. i came from the midwest as well. hook up with classes as soon as you can, it helps in meeting people. (think about getting your mfa, i know first hand, UCLA has a great MFA program).

writerly
03-24-2005, 11:32 PM
This is kind of a stupid question, but I'm moving to LA soon, too, and am wondering if I should change my cell phone number to an LA number? Will potential employers, apartment renters and/or roommates call you back with a non-LA number? Also, which area code is better to have -- 310 or 323 ... or doesn't it matter? Personally, I like 310.
310 all the way baby!

sonofdoorkeeper
03-25-2005, 10:59 AM
I would consider getting a local cellphone, too.

The great advantage you have in the USA is that your landline numbers and cellphone numbers are indistingushible from each other.

Get yourself a local phone number and, at least judging from the number on your business card, you are a local. Doesn't matter if you live in Ventura County (as I did last time I was in the good old U.S.A. ;) )

You don't even have to get a phone. All you need is a new sim card.

Last time I was in L.A., I bought a cheap simcard for 20 dollars, and was able to choose exaclty the area code I wanted (I insisted on Beverly Hills to the amusement of everyone present :) )

Of course, the great disadvantage of the US cellphone system is that you have to pay even to receive calls! What's that about?! It means you get through your pre-paid credit very, very fast, even if you never make a call! :\

writerly
04-09-2005, 11:15 AM
I just have to say, THE MARINA SUCKS!!!!!!
I'm finally out and verrrrrrrrry glad.
it really, really sucks!!!

MrPembridge
04-10-2005, 08:45 PM
562 is the new 310. Everyone who's anyone has a 562 area code.

Kidding ;-)