Here is what I think after a year:
Familiarize yourself with the phases of culture shock. They are real.
Get anger management counseling before you come if you have the slightest predisposition towards road rage.
Plan to be at least an hour early or you are planning to be late.
A good GPS will be your best friend. However, you have to treat it like your baby and take it with you when you park because it will be like car breakin thief bait.
Never leave anything in clear view in your car. Not even loose change. Put it in the trunk if you can’t take it with you. Booby trap it if you can.
Most of the “rules” you read on this message board are really loose guidelines that are not even loose if you are a talented, vgl 18 tpy with previous training and acting experience.
Have a plan based on the “rules” when you get here but don’t marry it. It will be like a battle plan that will go right out the window once the shooting starts. There is no timeline, but things can sometimes happen quickly if you are good. It can be scary.
Don’t talk to actors about acting or the business outside of class unless they have reached friends status. They will bring you down.
Just because someone is older than you and has been in town for years does not mean he doesn’t have his head up his ass about the business.
Everybody’s hairdresser and dentist thinks they are qualified to give advice to actors.
99% of people have a project and 98% have an excuse.
Some of the “producers” that will approach you are real producers. They produce porn.
Be good at changing the subject or exiting conversations you don’t want to be in without laying out a snub. This is a much needed skill in a variety of situations.
Don’t tell ANYONE if you have money. Not even your friends.
Most of the guru teachers are really finishers and their studios are totally overrated.
The game may have changed, but cd workshops are still for losers.
This town has grown fat from eating lost souls for breakfast, lunch, dinner and many snacks between. Don’t come here without a strong spiritual core.
If you are from the east coast, you need to drink a lot more water than you are used to for the sake of your skin.
Real actors with real careers don’t have time to post on message boards 10 times a day.
Stumbleine - Well written.
Glad you stopped in to post. Sounds like things are going well overall. Good to hear it because I remember when you first posted about your plans to go for it out here.
P.S. regarding guru teachers--what do you mean by using the word finisher?
The best lines in a great post.
stumbleine: Terrific post, especially the spiritual suggestion.
These posts are fantastic. Love the list formats too. I am doing a piece about moving to LA for the upcoming Welcome to LA issue and this has been really inspiring!
Amazing post, stumbleine... Thanks everyone for some great advice :-)
Stumbleine, great post! Couldn't agree with you more on all your points.
One thing to add to your point about lost souls.
It's not nicknamed "Lost Angeles" for no reason. The city, both physically and culturally, has no real core. It's a mish-mash of different neighborhoods. And the "business" is really just a microcosm or a reflection of the city itself.
That's why it can be much harder to stay grounded. Too many things going on that can pull you in an infinite number of directions. It's also because the culture of Los Angeles is built on TRENDS more than on traditions or customs, so the culture here is far more influenced by what's "hot" in the moment than anywhere else in the US (or maybe the world).
Never thought I'd quote the singer Pink from her song:
"L.A. told me, you'll be a pop star, all you have to change, is everything you are."
Which is what the culture here in LA can do to many people coming here for "the business".
The thing is, what you have to "change" to will change every 3-5 years as the "business" latches onto the next big trend, fad, etc.
And so you'll have an entire INDUSTRY of self-help and self-improvement trying to sell you something to "change everything you are". It could be the friggin' Secret, juice diets, cleanse, raw foods, some latest workout craze, the "right" gym of the moment, the "acting guru of the moment", casting workshops, "the business of acting/branding" seminars, cosmetic surgery, and so forth.
Not that they're all bad -- but if you don't have a strong spiritual core of values, you'll be jumping from one fad to the next, and before you'll know it, you'll be some 45 year old who is still stuck in high school.
From a practical standpoint, here's what I found to work to keep me grounded:
(1) VISIT YOUR FAMILY/LOVED ONES. This may be harder for some especially those who don't like your choice of profession, but if they still love you, visit them. Visit them not for their support of your "acting career" but for who they are and for all the family stuff that has ZERO to do with acting, careers, etc. It's essential. Share a life with them that has nothing to do with "the business" or even any discussion of it. You'll be happier, and they will be happier as well because you're not bringing it up. And you'll share a meaningful time with them. Visit them at least once a year, if not a couple times a year. And call them every week (or a couple times a week) just to connect and talk.
(2) HAVE FRIENDS AND A LIFE OUTSIDE THE BUSINESS. You can be superfocused on your acting career, but you still need a "release valve" to step outside of it completely. Do something or hang out with people who have ZERO to do with the business. Have fun with them, don't talk about the business. There are more people and things to do in LA that have nothing to do with the business than you'd think. This could be playing in a polka band, volunteering, church, whatever. It could even be a day job (i.e. not waiting tables or bartending at a trendy place). Just something that grounds you in something other than the business.
Do those two things, and you can do all the Master Cleanse diets, workout fads, etc you want. But underneath it all are strong roots that you replenish and nourish regularly.
I'm sure some of you have met folks who have ZERO identity outside of the business - and that's not sustainable because eventually they will be lost. Or they'll join a cult to compensate for the fact that they're lost.
Every time you meet up with them, the only thing they can talk about is their latest audition, who's casting what, agents, industry gossip, their workout goals (presumably so they can look better on camera). Because their entire day is auditions, workshops, classes, a shift at work (at some trendy bar or restaurant where they are serving others who talk only about the business), and going to coffee with other actors to talk about the business. And then post negative crap about the business on their Facebook status updates.
Don't be that person. I personally had to catch myself falling into that trap a few times.
If your sole source of fulfillment and joy is from acting -- then you will actually more likely quit. Because chances are you're not going to book enough for it to be your sole source of fulfillment (and even if you do book enough, it may not be the role you really want).
If you have other things going on in your life that bring you joy and fulfillment, you're actually more likely to stay in it for the long-run because you are better equipped to deal with the lean times.
Uta Hagen makes a pretty big point about living a life open to all the different arts. It really is amazing how many different things some successful actors do.
The other thing I've become aware of going to screenings lately is how many people spend years here hustling, always promoting some new project, yet never really getting anywhere. You meet them and right off they talk up what they're doing and the moment they meet a star or anyone else connected they spend more time trying to make sure that person knows what they're doing than showing any real interest in the person.
These people find each other too. When Facebook came along, I looked up one person I used to know like that in New York and saw that one of her friends was someone else I've seen on the boards with the same self-promoting attitude. Two women I knew out here from completely different circumstances turned out to be connected too.
All of which results in a very busy little mini-systems which really aren't going anywhere.
Some people of course DO get projects off the ground, starting with almost nothing. So what the exact difference is I can't say. But after over a decade here, I've become more and more aware of the first sort.
I am glad some of you found my first year experience helpful. I am happy to give back because some things I read here helped me.
The best piece of advice I got from here came in a post by Miss Stone that my stepdad had printed out for me when he gave me the option of going straight to LA instead of college. It is golden:
I’m glad it keeps getting bumped and is still available. I think it should be tacked to the top of the New Actors Only section. http://bbs.backstage.com/eve/f...f/932105/m/846102181
The single greatest piece of advice I got, however, came from my grandmother when she hugged me goodbye the morning I left. She said, “Don’t forget who you are.”
There are just so many things you just cant find out till you get to LA. If you are going to act seriously you need to be in LA....but you might lose your soul in the process....LA will suck you dry if you let it, do your research and make a budget and above all dont fall prey to "my friend told me"
Mostly watching nowadays instead of posting....but a piece of advice I can give the really young types like myself.
This business is really strange in that you need to be agressive but you also need to be patient...and sometimes it is hard to find that balance in those two areas but you have to find it....a couple of other things.
- Keep your friends/family connections strong....sometimes when you go for broke down this path it is easy to lose connections to both due to the big time it takes away from your personal.....make sure you keep your friends and family and tell them how important they are to you and thank them for their support.
- MAKE SURE that you tell your parents (this is for us young actors) just how much you appreciate what they are doing for you....because not only do they make it happen but they also protect you from the ugly side of the business. We would be no where without them. Dont just tell them you will take care of them when you make it (if you do) make sure you tell them that you love them and appreciate the hours they spend behind the wheel, the dollars they put out when it isnt always so easy, etc etc
- LISTEN TO YOUR REPS....when you get them.....go to your classes, stay out of trouble, keep your eye on the prize.
- Understand that for most it does not happen overnight.....someone very smart said "its not who you know it is who knows you" and it takes time to biuld those connections.
"Its the struggle that makes it great"
This is an old post that I thought was relevant to this thread:
Something that I wish someone had told me was to put love first and hook up with a good partner who could be a good teammate in life; I used to think that I had to be successful before I could date and have love, and I ended up 43 years old and lonely and still single, many women have been interested in me, but I was closed off to love because I thought that I had to be successful first, I was stupid, a good woman could have helped me in life, and for me love is the most important thing in life, and I have been missing out on the most important thing in life. So, my advice is to be open to love, no matter how poor you are, and if you are lucky you will find a good teammate in life, and everything is better when you are in love.
Here is a poem I wrote about love, maybe some of you will enjoy it.
by T.L. Verley
The true love of which all seek
but seldom grab onto
The real stuff of which all speak
but seldom ever do
Above riches, reputation, and all of self
We need it like air
Yet it sits on the shelf
Our tender souls we won't share
Afraid to be hurt and won't take the time
It won't be your's this way
Nor will it be mine
Tis a futile game we play
We fake it with imposters in the beginning
In between what we convince ourselves counts
And we make believe we are living
While we are dying in large amounts
Learn young, hold out, and when it comes hold on
Make love the roots of all you do
Your tree of life will be beautiful and strong
And every phony that did not will wish they were you.
Anyhow, my advice is to put love first, and have love in your life, no matter how poor you are.
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