View Full Version : Is Living in Lake Arrowhead a Viable Option?

08-28-2004, 02:50 AM
Has anyone out there tried living in Lake Arrowhead or any of the affordable rural areas just outside of Los Angeles? As a newbie feature writer I'm not taking a lot of pitch meetings (like, none) so what are the advantages of an LA zip code? Is it worth the possible-Hollywood-connections I might make working at Blockbuster Video to finance $10,000 in rent over the next year while I finish my script? :\

08-28-2004, 12:12 PM
I lived in Ventura my first year in CA, but I made a point to drive in to LA for writing groups, speaker presentations etc. to meet people. It was close enough to do that, and certainly close enough to come in for any agent or producer meetings.

Obviously, you meet more people if you get an actual job in the industry, but the lower level jobs you can probably get won't pay well. It's a trade-off.

If you do move to the outlying areas, some writers suggest getting a 310 cell phone to avoid disdainful comments about area codes the studio people have never heard of.

08-28-2004, 12:16 PM
There was a time when you could make a fair number of Hollywood connections hanging out at the Jensen's in Blue Jay....

(which is a town near Lake Arrowhead, for those of you unfamiliar with the SoCal mountain scene....)

The problem now is that with the lake so low and the recent fire damage, I'm not sure Arrowhead is quite the place it used to be even a few years ago.

About two years ago, at the grocery store right near the Arrowhead lake shopping center, I was shopping with a well-known Oscar winning writer when the clerk made some remark about a current movie being made by Disney. My friend corrected him, saying that no, the movie in question was made by Dreamworks. And the clerk said okay, but Dreamworks is owned by Disney. My friend said no, it's not, it's a different company. And the clerk wouldn't back down.

He didn't stop to ask why this guy talking to him might know something about Dreamwoks. If he had asked, my friend would have told him, and he'd have realized that he was talking to a guy who'd written a movie for Dreamworks that won an Oscar....

The moral of this story: Making connections is sometimes more than a matter of where you are.

08-28-2004, 01:39 PM
He didn't stop to ask why this guy talking to him might know something about Dreamwoks. If he had asked, my friend would have told him, and he'd have realized that he was talking to a guy who'd written a movie for Dreamworks that won an Oscar....
Successful people usually have the ability to spot a break at a hundred paces and make a connection. Most people, including this guy I would guess, could get stuck in an elevator for six hours with Spielberg, Katzenberg or Geffen without ever thinking to give them a copy of their script.

08-28-2004, 03:37 PM
Live in L.A. Trust me. Find a way to make it work. There is a HUGE distaste for people living outside of L.A. I feel it and I live in the Valley! There's nothing like watching people roll their eyes when they hear you live in the Valley. When I tell them I live in Encino, they're like "Where?" They think I'm some out of the loop writer and don't take me seriously. Truth is, Encino is only one mile west of Sherman Oaks, which is a little more acceptible for Valley living (based on judges in the industry.) But I seriously feel it is much harder to make connections and meet other writers and industry professionals when you aren't in that Hollywood/Santa Monica stretch. If you live in those areas, every Starbucks is filled with other writers. The building you live in will be filled with other writers. Let me put it to you this way, in my building in the Valley, I'm the only writer. There's 80 units. Those odds aren't good for making connections.

I'm hoping to move to the Hollywood area in the next few months. All of my industry friends have made so many more connections living out there. Trust me, spending more money on rent is better than isolation. And there's nothing worse than wasting time stuck in traffic to go where the action is.

Here's where you should look:

Santa Monica - stay east, on the border of Westood. It's more expensive right at the coast.
Venice - same as Santa Monica. There's a lot of artists in this area - good to meet people. A lot of freaks, too.
West Hollywood - Clean, safe, centralized. Lots of writers and actors. And it's Boystown, for anybody into that thing.
Miracle Mile - Don't go too south or too east. Some nice places that aren't too outrageous in price.
Hollywood - the more west, the better. Cheap places, but the neighborhoods can be rough. I wouldn't live there, but then again, I'm not that tough.
Los Feliz - It's when Hollywood moves from it's rough neighborhoods into slightly nicer neighborhoods. It's got some charm to it.
Silver Lake - a lot of artists around this neighborhood.

And in the Valley:
Studio City - convenient enough location to take the canyon into Hollywood. Near some studios. People in L.A. at least know where this city is and don't look so down on it because there's a lot of industry business done there.
Burbank - same situation as Studio City. Easy to get to Hollywood with Caheunga Pass.
Sherman Oaks - the most out of the way in the Valley. If you go anymore west you'll be my neighbor and nobody will want to come and visit you. Especialy chicks. They hate driving.


08-28-2004, 05:59 PM
What is the reasoning behind the prejudice against writers who live outside of certain areas?

08-28-2004, 06:47 PM
My feelings are that industry types feel writers (and filmmakers in general) are never serious about their craft if they don't live in the area. I know it might seem weird to say that, since it's no trouble to them if you need to travel for a meeting, but they still seem to put a convenience label on you if you're closer.

Also, my whole pitch about living in the heart of the action is more for making personal connections (friends, meeting other writers, etc.). These are the connections you'll need to get meetings eventually. It's just hard to make personal friendships with people if you don't live in that central area. They don't want to be bothered with outsiders.

Maybe the prejudice is inexplicable. But I definitely see it, not just in my own life but with others.


Evil Elf the One and Only
08-29-2004, 01:04 AM
Is it viable to live "outside" say Orange County or something, and have an LA maildrop and cellphone? The metrolink trains are great, and it's just as easy to write on the train as at Starbucks. Then you write at the Starbucks on the Promenade instead of the strip mall down the highway...doable?

Blog Of A Commuter? (http://terminalcity.diary-x.com)

Unca Leo
08-29-2004, 03:56 AM
Don't even think of living in Orange County. You'll never get work.

08-29-2004, 10:20 AM
>>What is the reasoning behind the prejudice against writers who live outside of certain areas?

Arrogance and snobbery.

08-29-2004, 01:48 PM
Thanks so much for the many thought provoking posts!!

Okay, a couple more questions.... lets say I move to Hollywood so that I'm surrounded by other aspiring writers; are these individuals really in a position to help me? If so, how?

Also, I'm an actress on the side, and where I've observed that actors freely share agent/manager referrals, no writer on earth has ever even approached me, let alone offered a referral -- and when I rarely venture out to Studio City Starbucks, I do get approached, but not about my screenplay :\

08-29-2004, 02:00 PM
lets say I move to Hollywood so that I'm surrounded by other aspiring writers; are these individuals really in a position to help me? If so, how?

See, the thing is, you need to build friendships with people. Some of these people may not be in a position to help you...yet. But as time passes, some of the friends you made will make the next step in their careers and be able to help you. I see it like this--if you make a connection with somebody on a personal level simply for friendship, then the offer to help you when they can will be genuine. And try to think of this as more of an investment in your social life than anything else. But it's just not writers you'll meet. You'll meet people in development, people who are agent/manager's assistants. These are all people that you should be friends with.

Sometimes, you don't need to become good friends with people to get favors. An agent's assistant will probably say he'll talk to his boss if he likes your idea, because it will win him points and help him move up the ladder by finding the next great writer. So a lot of this is stricly business. But whether you are looking for business or personal relationships, you need to be in the center of it all to make it happen.


08-29-2004, 04:27 PM
I think the most important thing in choosing a residence boils down to it being a place where you can get your best work done - that's all.

You won't write your best if you're struggling to meet the rent on your beach pad - been there, done that.

you won't write your best in isolation either, done that too - interacting with other writers and artists helps keep me learning and pushing myself.

we each have a balance we have to find that allows us to do our best work

Hey gia - if people are looking to know you for something other than your writing, roll up one of your scripts so you can beat them with it - or just stick it in their hands when they walk up.

Personally, I've never been a coffee shop writer anyways, I meet other writers by exchanging work because that's what matters.

08-29-2004, 11:10 PM
Very funny jjg :D That's it! I'll beat the hell out of 'em with my script.
Thanks for making me laugh,

April Hamilton
08-30-2004, 10:52 AM
beware -

I live about 40 minutes east of Hollywood proper, and I'm in the dreaded 909 area code, and I don't think it's hurt me at all. Of course, I have to be willing to make that drive at more or less the drop of a hat when there's an opportunity for a meeting or event, but that's not a problem for me. I've never had a producer, studio exec, prospective manager/agent, attorney, etc. roll their eyes or show any other sign of disapproval about my not living in Hollywood or Burbank proper. You know what? Most of them don't, either. I've had them ask me "How far away is that?", but when I respond with "40 minutes," any possible concerns are put to rest.

The L.A. basin is huge. I don't live any further away from a meeting in Burbank or Hollywood than someone who lives in Santa Monica. In fact, given that I get to drive mostly on the freeway to get there while the Santa Monica person is stuck on surface streets, it may actually take the other person longer to make the drive. Arrowbear is considerably further away than I am, though. I don't think it hurts to live in the distant corners of L.A. county, so long as your drive won't take longer than someone who's coming from areas that are considered "local" even though they're pretty distant, commute-wise, i.e., Santa Monica, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, etc.

08-31-2004, 05:16 PM
that's great if it works for you, April, but there's no way a commute from SM/Venice takes as long as something 40 miles east of LA. That's just plain ridiculous.
I can be to Beverly Hills from SM in 10-15 minutes easy, even with traffic (maybe 20). Generally to get to Hollywood takes about 10 minutes longer.

You know what? Most of them don't, either.

I completely disagree with this. On the TV show I worked on, everyone lived in LA West LA and were very aware of where everyone else lived and worked.
just mho,

there are cheap places to live in LA. Just do it, make the plunge. You'll find the water is fine (if filled with a few sharks, you just learn how to swim faster). ok, so I'm sure I wasn't the first to use that analogy...
best of luck whatever you decide!

April Hamilton
09-01-2004, 12:18 PM
writerly - maybe TV is different. I'm just speaking from my own experience.

I used to live in the Hollywood Hills (Grace Avenue, Whitley Heights) and work in W.L.A., just West of Westwood, and it easily took me 40 minutes to make that commute each way. Maybe you know some bitchen' shortcuts, or just drive a lot faster than I do. :p

09-02-2004, 01:04 AM
You're called to meetings with less than 40 minutes notice? How on earth do you plan anything in your life?

Since I live entirely outside of the state of California, I'm curious about how much one would need to earn to make a decent living in one of the "approved" areas and how many jobs are available to support a person interested in developing a writing career.

April Hamilton
09-02-2004, 10:41 AM
Toti - yes, there are times when things can be on very short notice; you may have a nonspecific agreement to meet with someone, then they call up and say, "My 3 o'clock just cancelled, can we meet then?" Also, when you're trying to get a meeting with someone important and they say, "Okay, I'm pretty booked most of the week but my morning's open; can you come now?", you want to be able to say yes. It's typical to have something scheduled a few days or a week in advance, then have it rescheduled at the last minute, too.

As to the living wage question, there's no doubt that the cost of living in L.A. is high. Lots of people earning in the $30-40k range must share an apartment with roommates while they save up to buy a house or condo.

April Hamilton
09-02-2004, 10:48 AM
RE: 'supporting a person interested in developing a writing career'...

You can develop a writing career while working at virtually any job, but some make it harder than others. I've been doing it while working as a software engineer. My boss has never known, and has never needed to know, that I'm trying to launch a screenwriting career on the side. All that matters to him or her is that I'm meeting my work obligations, and all that matters to me is that the job pays well enough to meet my financial obligations and is flexible enough to allow for those short-notice meetings.

Some people here will swear by the strategy of getting an industry job, however low-paying and demanding, because of the invaluable contacts you'll make. I wrote a whole column about why I think it's not the best approach, and just last week I got an email from someone who took the industry-job route and two years later is floundering financially (due to the low pay) and creatively (due to the long hours, which don't allow him enough time to ruminate and write). He's made those golden contacts we're all after all right, but until he's had enough time to "refill the well" and hone his skills as a writer, all the contacts in the world are useless.

09-02-2004, 11:47 AM
You know my experiences have been similar to April's....

I live in Pasadena which is only a hop, skip and a jump from Burbank, Hollywood, Downtown (depending on traffic of course) etc.etc...I never had anyone in the biz, say something negative about living where I live... matter fact, they always say what a nice cool town it is. Film and Television shoots are constant here. As long as you can get in a car or some sort of transportation available when that call comes for a meeting... That is what counts....

My two $ about whether to work in the biz or not, It's a personal choice with a lot of factors involved. Me personally, I don't have a job in the industry, but I'm able to live a comfortable lifestyle (decent car, live alone, health insurance, no crap from my parents) which allows me the time to WRITE and REWRITE and so forth. Now, I've lived here for two years and my labor is beginning to bear fruit because of the quality of my writing. More requests, personal phone calls, and hopefully if all the stars align, a sold script in the near future.

Had I jumped in the biz like some of my peers two years ago, I don't think I would have fared as well. They write less and less as they become more into the social/biz scene. They have wonderful contacts but always ask them, "well, come to me with your next script"... but they don't have time to write the next script because they are struggling to make ends meet. Whereas I have been able to produce while working one full time job.

Bottom line is its the writing what matters. That is what is going to open doors for you. And yes, you must live somewhere in the vicinity of the L.A., and participate or to go seminars, panels, festivals and make contacts there too, that helps.

There is no sure, clear cut path to break in the biz. You see it all over these boards. Everybody has a story of how they got in. But they will all tell you it was the story that got them there and kept them there in the first place.


09-02-2004, 02:36 PM
Several of you have mentioned "meetings" or "last minute meetings". I'm assuming this applys to TV Writers only, right?

My situation is that while living on savings I wrote my first feature script. It placed as a semi-finalist in a couple of contests and I got an open door at a biggie agency (as in, "we're not specifically interested in your CGI animal story but love your writing so send us anything else you may have). And that's the problem... I'd like to actually WRITE the "anything else I may have" but finances are now in the toilet and based on my educational level and marketable skills, we're looking at ten bucks an hour max.

I'm thinking, why not live on the cheap in Arrowhead for a year and focus completely on the next script? But then, do a couple of industry "maybes" justify this severe of a committment and lifestyle change? What if those people change their mind in a year or my next script sux? Unfortunately, no one comes along and taps you on the shoulder and says, "Yes, you're SUPPOSED to be a Writer." Gia :D

April Hamilton
09-02-2004, 03:06 PM
No beware, I don't write TV stuff, only features. The meetings you have are with producers, studio execs, development execs, other writers, and prospective representatives or your active representatives.

09-02-2004, 06:57 PM
Meetings, like writing, are an ongoing process, a continuing effort in networking, which is why it's good to live in a place that allows you to show your face when summoned. Granted, if you don't have any work circulating, you aren't going to get many meetings. However, isolating yourself for a year with the hopes that what you produce will be your golden ticket, is a longshot approach.

Gia, I think you ought to take a longer view to this, like maybe two to three years, get yourself a ten dollar an hour job, a couple of roommates, many cases of top ramen, and just write your ass off. Write three or four scripts and then see where you're at.

Financial stress is often a great impediment to productivity (it certainly has been for me). Feeling isolated hasn't really helped me either cause I start to think that the world is passing me by. What works for me is a tiny studio in venice, a low paying industry job, and time every morning when I wake up to put down a few pages. I hope to finish my latest script within a month and by the time that gets read by a few agents and execs, I hope to have a draft of the next one done, and so on...and so on...

09-02-2004, 08:47 PM
For someone who isn't currently living in L.A. but who has enough time and financial freedom to write, it almost seems wise to take some time, develop a truckload of scripts, then U-Haul them into town and focus on marketing. Yes? No?

09-03-2004, 11:18 AM
yes...but it's also important to get feedback along the way, not just from friends, but from people as far inside the loop as you can, so that your work develops in a direction that fits your goals. If you're trying to break in as a spec/assignment writer as opposed to being an indie filmmaker, getting criticism from your target audience will influence how you approach your next project. However, writing three or four scripts before you come to town will only make you a better writer anyway.

09-04-2004, 01:14 PM
I wouldn't be intent on developing a bunch of scripts unless I knew I was learning and making progress with each one. To do that, you need feedback from people working in the film and TV business.

I am all for living in the Los Angeles area. I think it's easier to meet people, easier to go to events, etc. However, I know plenty of working writers who broke in while living elsewhere.

People have different experiences, but in the 10 years that I've been working in features and TV, I have had so few meetings on short notice (24 hours or less) that I can count them on one hand. And I wouldn't need all my fingers.

When we were interviewing writers for staff jobs on a TV show, we would often ask if they could meet later in the day, or the next morning -- but if they weren't available at such short notice we certainly didn't hold it against them.

And we also met by phone with several writers who live elsewhere.

I live in Pasadena. So do dozens and dozens of TV and feature writers, directors and actors. People in the business don't care if you live outside of the 10-mile radius around West Hollywood.

They care if you're a great writer. And it helps if you're not a nutjob.

Those two things right there are what eliminate most people from making it as working writers.

09-04-2004, 02:12 PM
They care if you're a great writer. And it helps if you're not a nutjob.
I'm screwed then. I was hoping a great beachfront condo on Ocean would overcome those slight deficiencies.

09-04-2004, 04:16 PM
I too recommend living in Los Angeles. WHen I was out there in the latter half of 2003, I was in Marina del Rey. I'm coming back this October.

When you're writing specs, it doesn't matter where you live. I'm a New York native, but I wrote my feature length scripts in the middle of nowhere in Alabama.

I hung out in LA for awhile, went back to Alabama ( I now have 9 scripts), went back to NYC. I've recently had my first meeting with a producer (he wants to purchase my script).

I live in midtown Manhattan, which is an expensive, but cool part of the city.

My basic point is that you will need to be in LA (or NYC) when it is time to do meetings (unless you have the money and schedule to be able to just fly out on a moments notice).

I have my lawyer and all, so as soon as I'm done here in NYC (closing the deal), I'll make immediate arrangements to be back in Marina/Venice area.

Just going to the beach there you'll bump into industry people. Knowing other industry people is good, because can pass on advice or tidbits of info (even if they can't refer you at the time).

Oh, even when I was isolated in Alabama, I had industry people critique my work. My latin themed scripts were critiqued my latin directors and producers, plus had a couple of experienced mentors.

Winter in New York
09-07-2004, 03:17 AM
and when I rarely venture out to Studio City Starbucks, I do get approached, but not about my screenplay

Hey, Gia, I said I was sorry about that already!!! No need to bring it up again in front of the group!!! ;) :smokin

A Pathetic Writer
09-07-2004, 07:26 PM
I wouldn't recommend Arrowhead, because it's an hour down to the valley, and then at least an hour or two into downtown/hollywood.

I live in Castaic, which is a half hour from the burbank studios, 45 minutes/hour from hollywood, and about an hour (or more with the brutal traffic) from west la.

I wouldn't live any closer to LA if you paid me.

09-12-2004, 02:13 AM
<<Oh, even when I was isolated in Alabama, I had industry people critique my work.>>

How did you accomplish that?

For you L.A. (and area) folks, how did you secure the valuable feedback? I don't mean simply from other frustrated but unestablished writers. I mean the stuff that directs you toward a sale.

09-12-2004, 01:06 PM
I looked up various industry people listed in www.mandy.com while I was in Alabama, and I found people willing to read my work and give me feedback.

09-12-2004, 02:13 PM
-- Don't even think of living in Orange County. You'll never get work. --

Does anyone have encouraging words for us folks living in Orange County? Or is there real truth in Unca Leo's words?

Unca Leo
09-12-2004, 04:12 PM
/retroactively insert sarcasm....

I live in Orange County. Hasn't hurt me.

09-18-2004, 04:21 AM
live here
it's fun
and there are so many DIFFERENT areas in LA, you can find an area you like
and you'll meet people
without even trying
within my first two weeks in LA, i met an actress who played a major role in a major touchstone movie ... and i met another writer .. and they both lived within 20 steps of my apartment

they're everywhere

another thing
it's highly supportive here
people understand you because they're attempting something similar, and that helps fuel you as you pound away at your script.
that is highly underestimated actually ... the 'community' that helps emotionally push you along

KD The Wubat
12-27-2004, 07:01 PM
I'm not being sarcastic with this, but- I live in LA. And I've actually never heard of Lake Arrowhead.

There's a Lake Arrowhead? Where is it?

The lesson here might be that I am slightly stupid, or it might be that it is almost impossible to overestimate the insularity of Homo Angelus.

12-27-2004, 09:41 PM
Lake Arrowhead is about an hour and a half outside of LA in the San Bernadino mountains.

Considering how old this thread is and the length of time since we've seen a post from bewareofdog, maybe she moved even further away than that.

12-30-2004, 02:32 PM
So how about living in France, if my goal is for screenwriting to be a lucrative hobby and remain something I enjoy doing? Lol.

01-01-2005, 01:56 AM
I don't think screenwriting as a "lucrative hobby" is a realistic goal anywhere on Earth.

01-01-2005, 02:12 AM
Well...not my main source of income then. Which I know is a realistic goal, because there are tons of people who have other jobs in addition to writing screenplays.

01-01-2005, 12:56 PM
To be blunt - Many people, myself included, who live in Los Angeles and have professional credits, are treading water below the WGA poverty line looking to get bumped off the bubble up to full-time writer status.

Getting work is not easy. Getting effective representation is even more difficult.

If you feel that you can either sell your material outright by mail or get assigments without actually having to be in Los Angeles, good for you. I won't say you can't because being realsitic is not a necessary element for success in the movie business.

When you make some money, tell us how you did it, because I don't think anybody here will be able to tell you how to do it

01-01-2005, 01:39 PM
Thankyou, jimjimgrande, for responding. Your honesty is appreciated, and now I have my answer.