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Moving to Los Angeles to "get started" in the film industry


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#1 Niki Mundo

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:04 PM

I'd like to move to Los Angeles sometime in '08 to start as a production assistant in film or television work. Beside doing that, I'd like to pursue my own independant film project on the side, I'm just excited thinking about all of this..

My personality is very likeable and I get along with almost everyone, I understand that absolutely NO ONE will give me a chance at first (from what books and internet pages I've read). I've read alot of negative comments about "moving to LA"- Bad traffic,air and hostile using people. But I love the fact that most people there are in the movie business.

What can I do to land my first job in the film industry? I like production go-fer stuff like getting coffee and cleaning toilets and scoring drugs for movie stars.


I can't stand the scene in Seattle. There's too many turds here, nobody makes movies here, nobody cares if you do (sorry about the 'tude but it's true!). I wanna go hollywood, but I'm under no illusions - I know it will be difficult.

So What can I do to make a smooth transition from nobody outsider to working insider!
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:31 PM

If you find a secret, let me know. I moved here about 6 months ago and it was tough. You just have to work some total sh!t jobs which get you crap jobs which get you slummy jobs which get you decent-ish jobs which start getting you into OK jobs and so on.

One bit of advice, save up enough money to live for 3 months before you try it. You have to be able to do some stuff for awful pay at the very first and, unfortunately, you can't really PA for 12+ hours a day 6 days a week and moonlight somewhere else.
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#3 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:39 PM

I believe you should have a reserve of money so you don't have to take every little scrap of a job that comes your way.

What that amount of money is, there is no one answer, but I would say six months of expenses makes sense. And before you settle on a living arrangement, check it out at various hours of the day AND night to make sure it is an environment that you are comfortable with.

I would use dramalogue as one of my entry ways. Start at first by committing to the shorter film and video projects as a set PA, perhaps avoid the ones that demand you have a car. Obviously you will have a car, but the unwritten rule when they say a car is a must is you probably will be a driver and I don't recommend that for your first few jobs since you won't know the area that well.

The key, in my opinion, in determining the level of professionalism of any shoot, be it film or video, is do they actually have a boom operator and a legitimate sound department (unless it is a silent film). The idea is you only want to avail yourself to productions that actually have a legitimate shot at being completed and the people who know better will avoid the dumb shoots and productions. You want to get to know production people that can actually get you work on future projects as long as they like your work ethic. That won't happen on jobs where the sound is minimized because real production people will not work on projects that have shot themselves in the foot before they even start.

The idea is to work with people who legitimately work in the film and video industry and perhaps took a lower budgeted film or video project because they themselves are being given a chance to elevate from their normal job. For instance, a set PA is getting a chance to be an AD, or a first camera operator is getting a chance to DP, etc...

These kind of people will go back to other working gigs after this production is done so not only do you learn valuable stuff while around them, if they like you they may be able to get you work on other productions because they have already worked with you.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:57 PM

My experience is that by the time you get to know which jobs are worth taking and which aren't, you don't need to take the crap ones anyway...
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#5 Timothy Martin

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 09:58 PM

Hey man, I'm in the same boat. I'll be moving out there in August with roughly 6 months reserve money set aside. Planning on doing the whole PA thing or anything that comes my way to pay the bills. I'm just eager to work and get paid doing something I am passionate about. I wish you the best of luck with everything.
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#6 Steven Parker

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 10:10 PM

Since you've offended everyone in Seattle, this may not work BUT

maybe a friend of yours in Seattle knows someone in L.A. - try to set up some connections before you leave.

I made the transition from Chicago to L.A. by working two connections from a show I did in Indianapolis. Wasn't great but at least I got started. Pretty bleak scenario if you know absolutely no one in the new town... and saving money goes without saying, even if you weren't in the film biz...

I'm assuming you've been checking Mandy, craigslist, etc.

There's nothing like going into a new town and already having a hook-up...

Edited by Steven Parker, 19 March 2008 - 10:11 PM.

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#7 Niki Mundo

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 11:04 PM

Hey,thanks for all the encouraging replies. I think I have alot to offer the film and television industry- it doesn't make sense to sit in Seattle and bitch about my life- if I go there and strike out it was all me.


My ex gave me his ford econoline cargo van and I'm going to live in that to cut down on traveling and eliminate rent. I'll get a gym membership to shower and workout.
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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 11:19 PM

Hey,thanks for all the encouraging replies. I think I have alot to offer the film and television industry- it doesn't make sense to sit in Seattle and bitch about my life- if I go there and strike out it was all me.


My ex gave me his ford econoline cargo van and I'm going to live in that to cut down on traveling and eliminate rent. I'll get a gym membership to shower and workout.



Hmmm, if you could actually shower in the van you could create a mobile shower internet cam....elegantly done in silhouette. You could have someone standing outside the van charging those interested one dollar per punch to the outside of the van so the sound could be heard on the webcam. The person could yell out, "Hit the Van, One Dollar, Hit the Van and be heard all around the world." People in Hollywood could ask their friends if they heard their specific hit then they could say they made it Hollywood.
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#9 Mitch Lusas

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Posted 19 March 2008 - 11:46 PM

Hey Niki, you've got guts and the drive. Would love to see some of your work. I hope you do well out there...oh, and definitely try to find people out in LA before you leave. They'll help tell you where to go/not go, and may even be able to suggest your work on a last minute crew-position.
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#10 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 12:50 AM

One of the best moves you can make is to sit down and think about what it is you'd really like to do in the business. It's not enough to just want to "work on movies." The film industry is very specialized and for better or worse, people are pigeonholed very quickly in terms of how they are perceived and what others believe about their abilities. So, if you want to direct, then you have to actually go and direct a few things instead of just saying you want to direct. If you want to be a DP, you have to go shoot and build a reel and reputation before you'll ever be taken seriously.

There is a lot of competition for every job out there, but the reality is that you're really competing against yourself. What I mean is that if you sit back and wait for opportunities, they'll never come. But if you are proactive and create a reputation and opportunities, work will find you.

The keys are working hard and being a genuinely nice person to work with. If you have skill, have a great work ethic and are pleasant to work with, then it'll be hard to fail.

Good luck!
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#11 Brandon Del Nero

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 02:10 AM

work ethic goes a long way.

It's an industry completely based on referal work, and its a small town, so word gets around when you're good and word gets around quicker when you're bad

Work your ass and be easy to wirk with and you'll start building a reputation. Remember, it really is a very small town, which you'll realize when you arrive
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#12 Richard Boddington

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 12:13 PM

Hey,thanks for all the encouraging replies. I think I have alot to offer the film and television industry- it doesn't make sense to sit in Seattle and bitch about my life- if I go there and strike out it was all me.


My ex gave me his ford econoline cargo van and I'm going to live in that to cut down on traveling and eliminate rent. I'll get a gym membership to shower and workout.


You are seriously going to do that? Where will you park it? Doesn't sound very safe for a lady in LA alone to do that. Oh well it will make a better story for your memoirs if your become the next Dawn Steel.

Keep checking Mandy.com daily under the production jobs for LA.

Once your resume is logged into their system you can fire it out quickly and it's all free.

Mostly they are dead ends because the person on the other end is getting hundreds of resumes for even the lowest of positions. But....last year I did land a very nice high paying job off that site last year. So you never know who is listing on there.

R,
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#13 Tom Lowe

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 01:06 PM

Lol, you say you get along with people, then you diss the entire city of Seattle. Not a promising start! :)

If you want to do this, save your money, then rent a room in the Hollywood/Burbank area and take all the jobs you can get. And try to make friends.
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#14 Niki Mundo

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 04:12 PM

Thanks again for the replies. Self-start, work hard, be pleasant and don't piss off the community -small community. I'll remember that and do my best.

Seattle expects to be "dissed"- that's why people live here. The city has permanent low self-esteem.
I'm just getting tired of it -that's all..it happens.
It's still a great place with alot of friendly people-

But it's not the movie capitol of the world!!
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#15 tylerhawes

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 05:04 PM

I came from Portland after 9/11 for similar reasons and I spent a lot of time up the road in Seattle. I understand how you feel about your prospects there.

I think three months of income is a gamble - better make it six months in the bank before you come down.

Living in your van seems really dangerous, and it DOES get cold here at night so you will too. I imagine them making a sequel to Into the Wild about you called Into the Urban. You can find a cheap apartment to share. There are adds for places that just let you sleep on the couch and share the bathroom and have a shelf in the refrigerator for a few hundred dollars/month, and that'd be better. I'd avoid rooming with the opposite sex for lots of reasons, though. You don't want your story to be how you endured harrassment or even rape to make your career.

Aside from practical considerations, it's just as important to be mentally ready and tough and have confidence that you know who you are at your core and aren't going to be driven around by desperation to "make it" or the influence of others. There are a million perspectives in LA, and basically if you don't come here already having a firm set of principals and values you are determined to live by, then someone is going to take you and make you into their own image. And the person you are today might not like who you would turn out to be. So be sure you can say no to things that don't fit who you are. I don't mean obvious things like subject matter of a project or selling your body, but the little cheats and betrayls and manipulations and back-stabbing that can chip away at your soul. Don't start down the slippery slope, run away from people who are like that even if you don't know what you'll move onto. These people especially occupy the middle ground between the scrappy indies and the successful studio people.

That said, there are a lot of great, honest, hard-working and passionate people in the industry who defy the bad stereotypes, and they tend to flock together. Find people like that, ingraciate them toward yourself, and you'll work with more like them.

#1 rule of LA: 90% of success is relationships, the other 10% is follow-through.
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#16 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 05:44 PM

> the little cheats and betrayls and manipulations and back-stabbing that can chip away
> at your soul... These people especially occupy the middle ground between the scrappy
> indies and the successful studio people.

Best advice I never received until it was too late.

You will get a vibe about people. Even I do, and I'm a complete social incompetent. Frequently, part of your brain - a part that you think is logical and important and should be listened to even if you don't like it - will be saying "overlook the problem, work with him, be nice, don't make waves." There may be another part of your brain saying "this guy is an arrogant prick and I don't like the way he operates."

The latter part of your brain should always win.

P
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#17 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 06:11 PM

Niki,

I moved out here almost two years ago and found work pretty quickly, within a month to a month and a half(and an internship just before the paying job). I did not know anyone out here, but I found a great way of getting work, that showed it's not always about who you know. Anyway, PM me if you've got a minute.

-Benjamin
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#18 tylerhawes

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 06:38 PM

Frequently, part of your brain - a part that you think is logical and important and should be listened to even if you don't like it - will be saying "overlook the problem, work with him, be nice, don't make waves." There may be another part of your brain saying "this guys is an arrogant prick and I don't like the way he operates."

The latter part of your brain should always win.

P



EXACTLY! I can't count how many times I've been burnt by not listening to that voice. I also don't remember it ever being proven wrong. Fortunately, I think I've learned my lesson, but it took some hard lumps to do so.

I've found a correlation between this and another phenomenon. There are people in this town (and everywhere I guess) that operate on their own wavelength that is different than everyone elses. It is very difficult to understand what makes them tick, and can make it hard or impossible to establish common ground or reason with them on things. OTOH, they may understand what "normal" people think like and value, and therefore be able to fool them for a while.

In short, they are sociopaths, and there are a lot of them in Hollywood. They are more difficult to avoid than the simple jerks, and more dangerous.

But again, there are lots of great people here who want to help each other and have healthy karmac views. Be one of them and you'll find others.
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#19 Bruce Taylor

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 08:09 PM

I love LA!

It's a great town. There's lots to do. Everyone's trying to be in the movie business.

There's a good sized community of van dwellers at Riverside Drive and Fletcher in trendy Silverlake though I don't know how many of them are "in the biz."

From the occasional posts I've read of yours you seem scrappy enough to make it in this town. I think you should get off your butt, stop whining and get 'er done. You'll also find out there aren't too many people making art in this town, they make commerce.

Good luck!

Bruce Taylor
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#20 Niki Mundo

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Posted 20 March 2008 - 08:23 PM

Listen to the little voice in my head.. check.
Sociopaths? Like that movie "Swimming with Sharks"? Is someone gonna humilate me over a packet of sweetner? "Equal is the blue one- Does this LOOK BLUE NIKI!!! (waves the pink sweet'n'low in my face) I've decided to destroy your career. Get out."
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