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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Q. I'm currently working on a Pro/con list for possible places to move. My dream is New York City but I know that they don't actually produce a lot of dramatic television in New York and the shows that are actually shot there are still written in LA. So not exactly ideal.

LA is probably the best place to move but I really have no desire to move there. I like things like cold weather and leaves changing. So my other thought was Toronto. However, I know nothing about Toronto except that it's in Canada. I've read somewhere where you said that the television industry in Canada is kind of a family affair. So my question is how difficult is it to get into the TV industry in Toronto and does being an American make it even that much more difficult?
Canadian film and television are small worlds, compared to LA. But you can break in if you have talent and perserverence. However, to work in Canada, you need to be a Canadian citizen or Canadian landed immigrant. A landed immigrant is the equivalent of an immigrant to America with a Green Card. The process for getting landed now takes on the order of 18 months. Until you're landed, no Canadian producer will hire you. On the other hand you can apply, and not move to Canada until you are accepted. (Contrary to DMc's comment earlier, once you land, you can work as a Canadian immediately. At least, I could.)

There is no doubt that L.A. is the best place to move, if you're planning on moving. Lots of people move there who don't have any real desire to be in LA. The physical climate is warm (though it does get chilly in the winter), but the emotional climate can be frigid. You move there because that's where the showbiz is. John Dillinger didn't rob ice cream parlors, eh?

I wouldn't move to New York. Squalor in New York is much more expensive than comparable squalor in LA, but as you are aware, very few shows are actually written and produced there. More often they are written and produced in LA, with a brief New York location shoot. New York is where you move if you are in love with theater, God help you. Or publishing.

In LA, it is possible to live a life entirely in the show business community. This can suck the life out of you emotionally; if your career is not taking off, you are nobody. But it is also how you absorb, with every breath, the smell of the market. In LA, everyone is working on a script, or a short film, or a deal. (This is not literally true; but it feels that way.) You get a sense what the buyers want. You overhear conversations. You bump into people. Nowhere else has the same concentration of dream makers and merchants; nowhere I know.

My own personal trajectory has been a bit against the tide. I started in LA, and wound up in Montreal. I'm not sorry I spent a decade in LA; but I'm madly in love with Montreal. Some of the decisions I made may have involved a girl I'm in love with, too. But if you ask the generic question, Where do I go? Then I have to say that the obvious choice is LA.

19 Comments:

So you gave up fame, fortune and the beach for love (and possibly poutine and Joe Louis). You are a total softie. I mean that in a good way, nice to see someone in the biz (especially a guy) who has some perspective on a meaningful personal life (namely feeling it important to have one).

By Blogger Caroline, at 12:57 AM  

If you want to work on big planes, you go live near the airport. Once you're known for what you do then you can relocate to somewhere nicer.

You'll have to keep up your contacts and put in extra effort to ensure that their sense of your presence remains the same, but the only way to establish that presence is to be there.

By Blogger Stephen Gallagher, at 4:20 AM  

Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it and I will consider it very carefully.

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