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Old 02-28-2005, 11:29 AM   #1
Victim 655321
Posts: n/a
Default The Art Of Moving To L.A.

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.
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Old 02-28-2005, 01:14 PM   #2
count woodrow
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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.

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Old 02-28-2005, 01:49 PM   #3
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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 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
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Old 03-01-2005, 11:56 AM   #4
Victim 655321
Posts: n/a

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.
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Old 03-01-2005, 03:12 PM   #5
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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.

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Old 03-01-2005, 08:02 PM   #6
Odocoileus virginianus
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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.
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Old 03-11-2005, 12:12 AM   #7
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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. :-)
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Old 03-11-2005, 09:43 AM   #8
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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
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Old 03-16-2005, 11:45 AM   #9
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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.
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Old 03-16-2005, 11:32 PM   #10
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Default Art of Moving to L.A.

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 way to bust up a pity party is a nice fat heaping helping of WRITING A DAMN GOOD SPEC...
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