I've been searching these forums, and there are some *great* threads about moving to L.A.
I've been doing the New York thing for a while and am considering moving Westward in a year or so (time to save and do research, etc.). I'm pursuing comedic television work mostly, as I am UCB-trained, in a sketch group, make shorts, that kind of thing. I've done dozens of student films, non-union plays, commercials, and so on, but I feel like there just aren't enough TV shows here. That having been said...
My question for you guys is, what do you wish people had told you before moving to L.A.? For example, if this thread was about NY, I would say "I wish someone had told me that if you want to do theater, you better be Equity, b/c there's almost nothing non-union worth your time."
Thanks for reading, and if you have anything else you want to say on the topic, any advice is appreciated!
Unfortunately, the main thing people need to understand is not something most want to hear or take in when they are told: chances are, once you're out here, your life won't change. That is, you won't be making your living from acting, you won't be getting more TV or film work, you WILL have to work a day job and pretty much live like lots of people who aren't actors.
All of this will change for a handful of people once they've been here for a while and gotten the hang of the place. But even for them it will take time. Whereas most new arrivals come out expecting to hit the ground running.
Also, of the working actors I DO know, most complain they're not getting enough work and most need some other means of income. As you can readily glean from what of SAG's employment figures slip out (they sure don't make it easy to find them).
Come out ready to find a day job, ready to get an apartment, basically ready to get set up as you would in any city. Oh, and read up on the place as much as you can - there's lots of books on acting in Hollywood which will give you a pretty good overview of how things work. And this board, if you read it over, will give you some idea of how things are really working for the people who are already here.
But the big thing to know is, your life just isn't going to change that much at the outset.
Thanks, Jim. I've really enjoyed your posts on these boards.
Like I said, I do plan to do a ton of research, and because I've lived as a New York actor for three years (was in college before that, also in NY), I realize that "overnight success" is usually years in the making. I don't intend to be rich/famous/fabulous, I suppose my motivation in wanting to move is to expand my opportunities.
I'm fortunate that I know a lot of UCB people on both coasts, which helps with what to expect. Most of them, even when they are on improv/sketch teams and have representation, still have survival jobs. That's the path we've chosen, I guess.
I really appreciate your response and advice.
I wish someone would have told me that I sucked when I first came to Los Angeles. I thought because I had a college degree in acting that this meant I was good. So I did several showcases... and then I finally realized I sucked.
For years I was remembered by who knows how many agents and casting directors. I know this for a fact because I ended up coincidentally meeting an agent years later who I had read for, and he remembered that I sucked.
I think they have probably for gotten at this point. And FYI, I took a mess of classes, and I don’t suck anymore.
I also wish I had discover Meisner earlier… when I discovered it at The Acting Corps (which I discovered after I realized that I sucked), it really took my acting and my life in a different direction.
1. Distances are *always* measured in time, not miles. For example, ask anyone in LA how many miles it is from Warner Studios in Burbank to Sunset/Highland in Hollywood, and no one will be able to tell you. But almost all can say "around a half hour."
2. Don't ever take the 405. Ever. Unless you need a parking spot.
3. If you're self-producing a project in LA, you are much better off doing a short film than a play. Reasons: you're in the film/tv capital of the world; you'll attract far better talent (cast *and* crew) for a short film than a play. Also, there's a far better chance that agents, casting, producers, directors, etc. will watch a 5-10 minute short than having to drive 30-45 minutes (each way) to watch a 2-hour play. There's nothing wrong with theater at all, and LA isn't "worse" for not caring. It's just different - much like Americans are obsessed with football and Europeans are obsessed with soccer.
4. I wish someone told me all the surface street shortcuts that serve as alternates to the freeways. But that is something you'll have to figure out on your own :-)
5. Shop at the 99-cent store -- groceries, toiletries, household stuff.
6. In NY, drivers are used to honking and gesturing. In LA, do that and you risk getting shot (a small chance, but you don't want to risk it). Save that rage for your scene study class.
7. You can get through the entire day speaking only Spanish.
8. It gets colder at night than you'd expect.
9. It is devilishly hard to get a theatrical agent in LA. Unless you're a cute teenager under 18, virtually all theatrical agents want you to be SAG/AFTRA before signing you. And even then, it's still hard.
10. Accept that your casting range is narrower than your acting range. If you get to a point where your casting range equals your acting range, you've already been an Oscar nominee. Even TV series leads get typecast narrowly. I mean, would anyone cast David Caruso as a romantic lead? But the brooding dude, he's got that down. You start to realize that some of the so-called "sh*tty" actors have more range and talent than you realize - they're just typecast and waiting for that opportunity to break out of it, just like so many actors come to LA waiting to even get typecast in the first place.
11. Never, ever underestimate how difficult it is to find a day job in LA. Especially one that is willing to give you the kind of flex-time as an actor (because chances are, there's a ton of other actors, writers, filmmakers, musicians, etc. who are also gunning for those jobs). It's probably easier to get a 40-hr a week job as an accountant in an office than a flex-time job as a bartender/waitress at a popular establishment (i.e. muchos tip money)
12. Give LA a chance. It's far from idyllic, but it will grow on you if you do. Even if you don't "make it" right away.
That was really great advice. I too am hoping to move to LA by the end of the year or early 2012. Im definitly keeping a copy of your post!
One of the best pieces of advice I have read on this board. I've just started to understand this myself through much trial and even more error.
Wow, DonQuixote, that's great advice and exactly what I was looking for when I started this thread.
I really appreciate everyone who's responded!
This is mine. grew up in Buffalo, where it hits minus 16 degrees several weeks out of the year, and doesn't stop snowing until at least April.
And LA at night feels 100 times colder than Buffalo in the dead of winter. Its shocking actually, and the one part I am still not quite used to (and I have been out here 5 years...)
I understand that time isn't a distance, but who really cares how many miles away something is? All I care about is how long it should take for me to get there. If it's 2 miles or 1000 miles and take me 1hr then who cares?
You get free gas?
If I have to get there then what does it matter? I just need to know when to leave.
1. that when someone says I have a meeting with _______________ they are just having coffee with a friend 99.9% of the time. Actors do that all the time. Don't know if it's to discourage or feel better about themselves.
2. Always go to the bathroom before leaving to get on a freeway. I got stuck on the 10 for 3 hours once.
3. People in LA can be phony. Especially if they think you know someone that can help them in the business.
4. Everyone out here has written a script.
5. everyone here is a producer. Most don't even know what a producer really does. It's pathetic.
6. there's always a party. stay away from the parties and the drugs. It will lead you to a broke dark path.
7. The drivers are horrible. GET really good insurance cause some don't have any.
8. good luck
Secret Agent Man did a whole thing on this.
It really is UNBELIEVABLE what **** people talk. People who can barely pay their rent will talk as if they were major players and give YOU attitude if you don't seem to be registering how important they are.
One of our "cafe-producers" was talking on about some million dollar deal a few years back. Then he asked a guy who actually has made some serious money in the industry if he knew a place for dinner that night. The latter suggested something he thought moderate price-wise - whereupon the "producer" blanched.
It was of course way beyond his means.
But you can bet he was back to talking up that million dollar deal first chance he got.
Man! I'm from the East Coast, where we have a thing called humidity, which means that if it's 90 during the day, it won't be much colder at night. I didn't realize that LA was SO different that way. I learned the hard way one evening in DisneyLand....
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