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Complications Ensue:
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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Just got a call from someone asking about emigrating here -- not a screenwriter. I am all for people moving here -- I think Montreal is the undiscovered secret of North America. But I also got an email a while ago asking:
Q. Would you recommend Canada to spec-monkey screen/TV writers? Nurturing and snow sound pretty good to me.
Canada is a good place to start if you're Canadian. If you're not, it may not be that easy to get in. In order to apply to immigrate to Canada, you have to show you can make a living. Graduate degrees help. Fluency in French helps. Large chunks of money in the bank help. But ultimately they want to know that you can make a living doing what you do. If you don't have credits as a screenwriter, you're going to have to find another rubric under which to apply to immigrate. I applied as a producer, based on my development experience, though I've been working as a writer since.

The process seems to take about 18 months these days. When I applied in 2000 it took 6 months. Hmmm. I wonder what would have caused the number of applications to soar?

If you can get into Canada as a permanent resident, then yes, it is easier to break into TV. The same amount of effort will get you further in Canada than in LA, because it's a more nurturing environment. Also, if you've spent any time in LA, that will give you some cachet here. A lot of people took meetings with me when I got here because I'd spent 14 years in LA. They probably figured I must know something.

On the other hand, if you do break in, you haven't broken into US TV, you've broken into Canadian TV, which is a small and relatively limited world. You would then need to break into US TV from Canada, which isn't easy, either, even with credits. Not only is it hard to break in from far away, your Canadian credits will be on shows no one has heard of, and agents in LA look down their noses on anything that doesn't originate in LA or New York.

If you are Canadian, therefore, I would suggest staying here and making your bones before heading South. Take advantage of what you've got. But if you are not, then you might want to try to make it in LA. Save up a bit of money, go to work at an agency, learn what people are looking for, and teach yourself how to write.

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I thought you were born here(In Canada)...

By Blogger JamaicanInToronto, at 4:56 AM  

Very kind of you, but no, I was born in New York and emigrated to Canada.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:26 AM  

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