View Full Version : The Inevitable Question...

10-14-2006, 01:04 PM
Advice greatly appreciated.

Here's the general idea. I'm 23 years old, 24 next June, living in the UK (which seems a million miles from LA-LA Land) and screenwriting is what I want to do. It's what I am doing ... writing, and writing, and praying that ICM or WMA will come knocking on my door with a nice golden cheque from 20th Century Fox for a cool $1 million.

Well, I can dream.

Anyway, here's the inevitable question. Should I move to LA or not? I'm sure it probably ranks as the number 1 question asked, but I thought, what the hell...

Like I said, I'm 23 and I've got quite a bit of savings in the bank that would probably tide my over for a while if I did make the move. And, like I also said, screenwriting is what I want to do. And, LA is the place to do it, right? I mean, that's where the action is. If you want to be in the middle of it, it's the best place to be, correct?

I have no real commitments here in the UK. No spouse or kids. Just parents and younger sister who support my ambitions and dreams. I have a job that I could do without. Basically, nothing is really keeping me here.

But, is it worth packing up my belongings and travelling 4000 miles? Surely there must be hundreds, if not thousands of other people in the same position as me. But, I believe in myself and believe in my writing to think I could make it (I'm dreaming now, right?).

Anyway, there you have it. Like I said earlier, any advice from people who have made the move, or hell, any advice from anybody would be very much appreciated.


10-14-2006, 01:20 PM
At 23, with no kids or other commitments, you should make arrangements to come to LA ASAP. This is the time of your life to have a great adventure. Meet new people, have new experiences, make things happen. You may end up finding something you prefer doing to screenwriting. Anything is possible.

Go for it.

10-14-2006, 01:59 PM
I agree. If you don't do it, you'll always wonder. Just have a PLAN B ready.

10-14-2006, 02:05 PM
Seems like you're in the perfect position to make the move. I think you've already made your decision.

What if a hundred people come on here and post their horror stories of moving to LA? Or their success stories? Those hundred people aren't you, so really their advice is useless. You know what's right for you.

I don't play the lottery. It's not for me. I know it. I know a guy who won six million - see him all the time at the gym. I don't want to be him or win the lottery, I just know it's not my fate. Doesn't matter how many people tell me I should or shouldn't play the lottery, I know what's right for me. You know your fate too.

Make sure you have something to fall back on - you've heard that before. See? You already know everything you need to know.

10-14-2006, 02:59 PM
Like I said, I'm 23 and I've got quite a bit of savings in the bank that would probably tide my over for a while if I did make the move.


Not enough $$$ to survive is probably the biggest reason we all aren't in LA. If you have that covered, I don't know what you're waiting for.

10-14-2006, 06:16 PM
Can you actually write? Have you ANY meaningful feedback that gives you any indication that you aren't just another wanabee starlet off the bus who ends up as a call girl?

10-14-2006, 07:30 PM
Have you ever visited LA?

10-14-2006, 08:40 PM
What about immigration and work permit issues? My understanding is that the US is kind of testy about people just moving there - you'd need a green card (which apparently is harder to get than smallpox) so that you could work at something else when you run out of money.

10-14-2006, 09:24 PM
Come. Soon. Have a great time.
People will LOVE your accent. That will get you a lot of interest even if you can't write worth a lick.

10-15-2006, 01:07 PM
What would double83 *do* once in LA?

Start writing? Knock on doors? Mailshotting? What is happening that requires double83's permanent physical presence? Is there a special thing that needs to be done in LA that can't be done elsewhere?

double83, have you a list of specific reasons for being in LA

Perhaps the idea is to arrive and be recruited for a paid writing job, or to photocopy your script(s) many times, and then start pushing them on people you have in some list?

EJ Pennypacker
10-15-2006, 02:00 PM
It's not mentioned in your original thread doubler83, but as boski mentioned, how many scripts do you have ready?

If you go out to LA, you can only go as a tourist and stay for 90 days. What do you plan on doing in that time? Make a sell? And with what material?

I think you're putting the cart before the horse here.

Work on your craft. Get Skype, and get a 310 number, if you want to give the impression you live in LA.

Just work on your scripts, and you can make those connections from the UK. Heck, even Deus recently did it from Canada. Why can't you from the UK?

You'll be naive to think you can just pack-up and 'move out there'. It's simple, you can't - from a legal POV. America is not in Europe, and America isn't part of the EU :(


10-15-2006, 02:50 PM
If you take EJ's advice, I'd suggest a 213 (Downtown) or 310 (Westside) area code, or, if you must, an 818 (The Valley). We wouldn't people thinking you live in Detroit.

10-15-2006, 04:40 PM
Just a small suggestion:

People break in all kinds of ways, however--

If you don't know working writers and others in the industry, you can write all you want on your own and not be getting anywhere near commercially viable material.

A lot of new writers learn important aspects of the craft from people they meet once they come out here.

EJ Pennypacker
10-15-2006, 05:16 PM
To me, the notion that it's important for a beginner to be in Hollywood to learn how to write a commercially viable spec script is like saying that an aspiring novelist should live in New York in order to learn how to write a publishable novel.



10-15-2006, 07:24 PM
But here's a guy who has the freedom to come to LA now.

He can join groups of writers, take classes, go to seminars...network his head off.

Get a job in the industry. Learn the business. Get his work looked at by lots of people. He can learn about production, maybe work on some films. Get involved in the active indie film culture here.

He can write those "two scripts" while he's here doing all that.

Sure, people break in all the time (into features, at least) from other places. And some people can develop the ability to write commercially viable material by reading scripts, and get feedback from people they meet online and such.

I'm not saying people have to move to LA to sell screenplays.

It can make things a lot easier for some people, though.

But -- if there's no reason not to come here? Why write two spec scripts from someplace else when he could be writing them here? If, indeed, the two spec scripts yet need to be written?

People always get very argumentative and defensive on the topic of moving to LA. But it's like a lot of things: there's no right or wrong.

But there is easier.

EJ Pennypacker
10-15-2006, 07:48 PM
If doubler was an American, I would say for him to move there and get his hands dirty in the biz.

But as he's a UK citizen, he can't just pick up sticks and move there and get a job. The whole VISA sponsorship is very tough (IMO), he can get a VISA for six months max. (but not be legal for work). The easiest method is to go as a tourist - but then again, you're only limited to being there for 90 days (and again can't work). There even used to be a day when you can cross the Canadian line and keep getting your new 90 days updated, but from what I understand, those days are over.

He could be illegal and over-stay his 90 days and get a job under the table, but what life is that? No SSN, no benefits, etc...

From a legal POV it's tough. Unless he/she has direct family members in the US, or he marries someone (which is a long paper-work and $ test), that seems the only way 'in'.

Not to be a naysayer, just trying to be realistic about the whole UK/ LA move thing.



10-15-2006, 07:54 PM
The US residency is a major hurdle. Not directly related to screenwriting, however. If US residency is impossible, then the whole thing is a no go. OTOH, there are ways for an educated, skilled person to get residency here.That's a book length topic in and of itself.

I see the point about learning how to write a marketable screenplay, but you can do this in LA just as well as you can anywhere. In fact, there are more classes, seminars, formal and informal writers groups in LA than there are anywhere else. Madison, WI, for example, is a great town for writers, but you can't take UCLA extension courses (in person) there like you can in LA. The city of LA public library even has more screenwriting books than any other public library in the country, and you can read scripts at the Writers Guild, and the Academy library too.

Another way to look at it is, "If not now, when?" Is it going to be easier to come to LA once you've got wife, kids, mortgage, comfortable job that affords you a decent apartment and restaurant outings?"

Even if you end up doing something completely different, this is a good time in your life to travel and experience living in a big foreign city. If you aspired to be a sushi chef, that city would be Tokyo. If you aspired to be a jazz musician, that city would be New York. Since you want to sell scripts, why not do it in Script Sale Central?

10-15-2006, 11:26 PM
I don't want to take on the role of The Dad here, but I've lived in LA for 30 years and I've had the pleasure of hiring a lot of young, creative people who moved here for their jobs. It's an expensive, sprawling city. Not everyone likes it. The immigration problems aside, unless he has a lot of resources, he could find himself working 12 hours a day just to support himself -- and not have time to write. It's not like you just move here and starting lunching at The Grill.

10-15-2006, 11:30 PM
I'm now in the same boat as the OP. The only thing that was keeping me here has dumped me after 7 years. She wants to focus on her career.

Yes, my heart hurts and i fear moving to LA from AU would be more out of spite even though i want to fast-track my writing career (if its in the cards).

My one main concern is the VISA policy, getting a job to support myself (i've got an Auntie in Sony Pictures at a high level - but i've got too much damned pride to ask her for a job and accomodation).

Plus i've only been to LA once and that was for a holiday in 2002. I don't know the place from a bar of soap.

My writing has got me *some* placements in competitions, but not the rewards that every producer in town is ringing my phone. in fact, my phone doesn't ring anymore especially now that she's gone.

So would it be worth my while to try it in LA? Is it really that necessary? I've been thinking settling up north like San Fran and even Vancouver, but would i have the same chances there as i have staying in Sydney? Do you really have to go to LA?

10-15-2006, 11:53 PM
My one main concern is the VISA policy, getting a job to support myself (i've got an Auntie in Sony Pictures at a high level - but i've got too much damned pride to ask her for a job and accomodation).

Swallow it, that's what I'd do. Then I'd bust my ass to show her she didn't just give me the gift of nepotism.

I don't know nuthin', but I do keep hearing this thing about "who you know" being of vast import.

EJ Pennypacker
10-16-2006, 08:30 AM
If you know someone at Sony, then you should use that to your advantage for sure.

But I'd imagine people from AU are in the same boat as the UK folks. And it's all about the VISA's.


10-16-2006, 09:56 AM
Regarding your "Auntie" at Sony (note: if you move here, we don't call them "Auntie"), call her and ask her advice. That doesn't involve swallowing your pride. BTW, if you move here and tell other struggling screenwiters that you have an aunt at Sony, they'll ask you for her number. This is a town where barbers get scripts for their producer/agent customers. Everybody uses everybody.

Hasil Adkins
10-16-2006, 10:16 AM
I don't know the place from a bar of soap.They're actually quite similar; both are comprised of the rendered fat of unsuspecting animals.

Make the move. Any life-changing decision requires a certain leap of faith. There will never be a 'perfect' time or opportunity to make such a move; some obstacle or drawback will always be there. That's called life. Challenges. Risks. All that messy growing up stuff.

Sorry about the dumping, but wait 'til you see the girls here...

Joe Unidos
10-16-2006, 10:30 AM
The only counterpoint I would add to those who see this as a commitment/determination/gumption issue, similar to a "should I move to LA from Duluth" question is that the visa problem makes this an entirely different dilemma.

If you come in illegally (like over-staying a tourist visa) and get caught, it has the potential to bite you very hard in the @$$ when and if your career were to get to the point where you would want to travel to the US legally. "Hard" as in deported and no longer allowed to enter the US.

EJ Pennypacker
10-16-2006, 10:40 AM
Yep. So if you are illegal, and get caught, you can't make this face meetings and potentially face a 5/10 yr ban on re-entering.

For US citizens, moving to LA is simple. You just move there.

For non-US citizens, it's not simple. In fact, it's damn hard. You can't just move there (unless you have DIRECT family there/ buy a house in the US/ marry a US citizen/ win a greencard on the US lottery [which UK isn't allowed to take part in] or get VISA sponsorship from a company [because you are a rocket scientist or something crazy].


10-16-2006, 10:41 AM
Pull a Gerard Depardieu... green card.

And, getting fat is fun.

EJ Pennypacker
10-16-2006, 10:44 AM
In all seriousness, the 'marry a US citizen' sounds easy (and almost fun), but there's lots of paper work, $$$ involved in processing these documents, and *waiting time* where you're not allowed to work legally.

Which makes the process not fun nor easy. :(


10-16-2006, 10:46 AM
In all seriousness, the 'marry a US citizen' sounds easy (and almost fun), but there's lots of paper work, $$$ involved in processing these documents, and *waiting time* where you're not allowed to work legally.

Which makes the process not fun nor easy. :(


I was joking, I don't advocate marriage under any circumstance. Ask my girlfriend, she'll back me up on this...

EJ Pennypacker
10-16-2006, 10:53 AM
I was joking, I don't advocate marriage under any circumstance. Ask my girlfriend, she'll back me up on this...


Or just ask my wife :)


10-16-2006, 11:01 AM
Anybody who suggests you move from Sydney to Los Angeles for the women, hasn't been to Australia. Get on line and look at the rents. Be suspicous of "colorful downtown neighborhoods in transition", or anything in Palmdale, which, by the way, is in LA County. It's about 100 miles from Beverly Hills. Then find out how much you're going to pay for car insurance. Don't even think of using public transportation. It doesn't go anywhere. Then ask yourself what you'd do for money? If you think you can wait tables or tend bar, remember you're going to compete with about 10,000 charming, starving actors. There are a lot of barracudas in town who can represent your business interests. You don't have be here to write. In fact, I'd like to move to Australia to write so I wouldn't be all the distractions and diversions, except for the women, of course.

10-16-2006, 11:21 AM
Just foogling around, found this. May be available for LA Unified too.