When Should I Move to L.A.?

Reader Question:

Q: I keep hearing that if I want to get anywhere in the film business I need to move to LA or NY, what is your take on this? –Greg

Film for most people begins as a hobby, and rarely ever becomes a paying gig, so if you plan to move out there out of the blue and get a big-time job (or a job at all) think again. I’ve said this countless times before, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually posted it, so here it is… a career in film is not for the faint of heart (this applies to music as well), if you’re going to go into film (as a filmmaker, actor, whatever), you had better KNOW that it’s the ONLY thing you can ever see yourself doing, you have to be 100% passionate, love it, and be completely dedicated to it, or you’ll spend months, years or even a lifetime of getting nowhere. You have to be able to get trampled on time and time again and keep going, and you have to poor your heart, mind and soul into it or no-one will care that you even exist. Also keep in mind that just like with everything else in life, you also have to be smart about the choices you make, plan years in advance and know exactly what your goals are BEFORE you take the big leap, or you’ll end up back home living with your parents after 6-months soul-searching living in Los Angeles or New York. If you don’t have a plan, or a full-time job BEFORE you go, then don’t bother. There’s nothing wrong with following your dream, but if you’re stupid about it, following your dream will land you working at the local McDonald’s along-side all the other “would-be” dreamers. I’ve seen and known so many people that have failed in this industry because all they wanted to do was be famous and get rich, it wasn’t really their passion, and they didn’t bother to look at things realistically before they took the leap. From my own perspective as an independent filmmaker, I don’t live in LA, nor do I need to, I fly out to the west-coast several times a year, but I personally have no reason to move there – I produce films right where I’m at for cheaper, easier, and (in my opinion) often better than I could in Los Angeles (as an indie filmmaker) and work with people who I know and love – that’s not so say that I wouldn’t work on a big studio picture if asked but, as an indie filmmaker & event producer that deals with it on a daily basis, I’ll be straight-foreward in saying that I’m not the biggest fan of the Hollywood system. Now, keep in mind, I am by no means saying that you shouldn’t move to LA or NY, as that’s where most of the opportunities are for new people (especially if you need to build connections), or that there aren’t a ton of great people out west (there definately are), just be smart about it, do your research, know what you’re getting yourself into and be prepared before you take that leap.

(As with all my Q&A posts – please keep in mind that I am by no means an “authority” on the subjects, these posts are just my own opinions based on my own experiences, I just hope you can get something useful out of it)

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