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Thursday, October 14, 2010

A couple of interesting comments on this thread in Reddit, for those of you wondering whether to move to LA or not:

kleinbl00 7 points 1 day ago[-]

I've optioned two scripts. I've made enough money at it to be ineligible for the Nicholl. I've seen some of my work show up on the big screen. I count among my friends some exceedingly pro screenwriters, a few struggling directors, a couple producers, and storyboard artists, makeup artists, art directors and concept designers whose work you have seen dozens of times. I'm hip-pocketed at one of the Big 5 and have, in the past, had offers of representation by managers you see prominently on the Black List.

I make ends meet by mixing sound.

If you're a screenwriter with a hope and a dream out there in Middle America, STAY THERE. The screenwriting-as-hobby sphere of influence (lookin' at you, Austin Film Festival) will have you believe that "if you write it, they will come." What they don't tell you is that USC, UCLA, Cal Arts, Loyola, AFI, Claremont and half a dozen smaller programs are turning out hundreds of grads a year, who already have the connections you need to make, who have already learnedthe lessons you need to learn, and are already going to the parties you wish you could attend.

And dollars to donuts, they write at least as well as you do.

The time to come to LA is when you absolutely positively can't make any more headway where you're at. And I can guarantee that unless you've shot an indie film that's doing well on the festival circuit, that's not you.

Little story. I grew up in New Mexico. Every fall, my mother would go batshit because the Canada Geese were migrating. And she'd whip out the binoculars and stare at these marvelous birds as they soared overhead. And my, but they were grand.

And then I moved to Seattle. And in Seattle, there are so many Canada Geese that just linger all summer that they close beaches and shores with their poop. They get aggressive and will attempt to steal the sandwich out of your goddamn hand while you're sitting on a park bench. The Parks department gets out trucks, gathers them up by the thousands and exterminates them because they create a public health menace.

I was a big deal in Seattle. A board member of one of the many film organizations up there. And you say "screenwriter" at a party and people think that's cool. I come down to LA and I've got a job on one of the lots... and CSI:NY is doing a casting call for extras. And there they are - hundreds of them, bright young faces, gripping their Macbooks, doing what they can to scrape by until they get that big break we're all looking for.

I wanted them all to die.

You see, they made it so I had to park on the 5th floor of the structure, not the 3rd floor. All they were was in the way. These people, whom I have more in common with than anyone else, whom I would gravitate towards at a party anywhere else, were suddenly nothing more than in my way.

What's it like being a struggling writer in LA? It's like being one goose in an unwanted sea of geese. When there's just a few of you you're magnificent, marvelous birds... but when there's as many of you as there are in LA, it's like being a public health menace and knowing it.

dabeetrus [S] 4 points 1 day ago* [-]

Wow, didn't expect such an insightful post. Thanks a lot.

How do you feel about MFA programs in screenwriting? If one can get into a UCLA/USC/AFI type of program (which is no small feat, but hypothetically) is it worth it to move out to LA or do you still recommended being one of those magnificent regional birds?

Also, would it be advantageous to live near regional hubs where a lot of filmmaking is done--Wilmington, NC is closest to me although there are others like Shreveport etc--and try to get a PA job or something, or would you be better off working a job to make ends meet somewhere and work on your craft in your off time until you have something you can sell?

kleinbl00 6 points 1 day ago[-]

I think they're expensive.

I think the spec market is dead.

I think that everyone is hiding from the economy in education right now.

My intent, when I made the move down to LA, was to get into the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC. And I got a 1530 on my GREs, and I'd written 5 screenplays, and I had a letter of recommendation from one of the biggest screenwriters in modern Hollywood, and they told me to pound sand. I was good'n'pissed about that for a while.

But I came down and I started mixing and I landed on a pretty big show. And the guy who changed the coffee and made sure we had enough snacks in the breakroom and did whatever scut work the producers told him to do?

MFA, Peter Stark Producer's Program, USC.

It isn't all like that. One of my friends is a Starkie and he's produced like six movies so far. He does all right. But then, it didn't cost me $120k to make coffee for a bunch of below-the-line guys, some of whom didn't even graduate high school, for 18 hours a day for minimum wage. Me? $1900 a week after taxes.

Networking counts. Degrees don't. If you've got some way to increase your networking exponentially by coming to Hollywood, it's worth doing. If you're just some dude or dude-ette from Oklahoma with a dream of seeing your name in lights, know that you're one of millions.

KTLA did a stand-up at the corner of Hollywood and Vine in 2002. They sat there with a camera, a microphone and a reporter, and asked random passers-by "How's your screenplay coming?"

More than half of them had an answer.



There's more here.

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