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Moving to LA


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#1 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 08:16 AM

I know many have posted this before, but I feel like I'm ready to make the commitment to start working in the business. I've felt for a long time that this is the only thing I want to do with my life and grow old doing it. I know the city is congested with thousands upon thousands of hopefuls and not everyone will make it, but I wanted to work as a PA and eventually get into the grip department and absorb true professional knowledge from other people. I've never been around a professional set before and I feel making short films on my own is the wrong way to keep making films because I truly don't know what I'm doing or how it works. I have some very basic understanding on the fundamentals of cinematography, editing, directing, producing. I currently have a second script on the top list on the Black List website- and I know how to break down a script, budget it, etc. So at the very least i could intern in up and coming production companies- which I've heard there are many that come and go- and maybe even write a straight to DVD film or a porno. I feel I could do something and perhaps LA is the place to begin my journey. I've failed many times before, and I am willing to fail many more times- I truly feel like I haven't been trying hard enough, I haven't even started trying- and I need a city where I can live and breathe cinema 24/7. 

 

So, seeing that there are many professionals in this website, i would like to be admonished if LA is the right place to begin, or is LA no longer a city where hopefuls can get anything started? I know the fact that you have to know someone in order to get somewhere, and internships and working in the grip department could possibly open new frontiers. Life without cinema is dull and there's nothing else that i would want to do. Wise decision to live there or not?


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#2 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 08:41 AM

I know many have posted this before, but I feel like I'm ready to make the commitment to start working in the business. I've felt for a long time that this is the only thing I want to do with my life and grow old doing it. I know the city is congested with thousands upon thousands of hopefuls and not everyone will make it, but I wanted to work as a PA and eventually get into the grip department and absorb true professional knowledge from other people. I've never been around a professional set before and I feel making short films on my own is the wrong way to keep making films because I truly don't know what I'm doing or how it works. I have some very basic understanding on the fundamentals of cinematography, editing, directing, producing. I currently have a second script on the top list on the Black List website- and I know how to break down a script, budget it, etc. So at the very least i could intern in up and coming production companies- which I've heard there are many that come and go- and maybe even write a straight to DVD film or a porno. I feel I could do something and perhaps LA is the place to begin my journey. I've failed many times before, and I am willing to fail many more times- I truly feel like I haven't been trying hard enough, I haven't even started trying- and I need a city where I can live and breathe cinema 24/7. 


 
So, seeing that there are many professionals in this website, i would like to be admonished if LA is the right place to begin, or is LA no longer a city where hopefuls can get anything started? I know the fact that you have to know someone in order to get somewhere, and internships and working in the grip department could possibly open new frontiers. Life without cinema is dull and there's nothing else that i would want to do. Wise decision to live there or not?


I've never lived in LA personally but work for me has always been based out of there. But the reality is that most production work is not there anymore. I would consider moving to New Orleans or Atlanta where there are numerous Hollywood productions and much more opportunity. The cost of living is much less than California as well. Good luck!

G
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#3 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 08:51 AM

How did you get started? How can someone chase work from production to production- seeing that it's all very sporadic. 


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#4 JD Hartman

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 08:54 AM

Good luck with whatever you decide.  I had heard that Shreveport has more film work than Nola. If I were moving, I'd go to Atlanta, Ga.,ARRI wouldn't have set up a rental facility there if there wasn't business to support it.


Edited by JD Hartman, 24 October 2015 - 08:55 AM.

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#5 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 09:19 AM

There's way more production in NOLA than Shreveport. And NOLA is a much better city. As far as rental houses go, all of the main companies are in both cities as far as ATL or NOLA goes. I know only because I've done so many movies in all three of those cities.

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#6 JD Hartman

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 09:25 AM

OK, had heard contrary.  I stand corrected.


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#7 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 10:21 AM

OK, had heard contrary.  I stand corrected.


All good!
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#8 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 12:58 PM

I really wasn't expecting Atlanta, of all places why Atlanta? There's nothing but bushes in that city. It's not visually diverse like California which is why the film industry established itself in that location to begin with. I still think Los Angeles is the best place for me as all the rich film history and theaters are there. Downside is the smog, traffic, and notorious gangbangers... I suppose Austin, Texas is also a good choice. 


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#9 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:04 PM

Good luck with whatever you decide.  I had heard that Shreveport has more film work than Nola. If I were moving, I'd go to Atlanta, Ga.,ARRI wouldn't have set up a rental facility there if there wasn't business to support it.

I think that's mainly because of The Walking Dead which uses Arri products on all their productions, and they're filming for a vast majority of the year. I can't imagine why other productions would film in Atlanta- doesn't seem like an interesting city. 


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#10 Justin Hayward

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:04 PM

If you had to pick one specific job in the filmmaking business you want to retire doing, what would it be?


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#11 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:11 PM

Atlanta because Georgia tax incentives.

You gotta go where the work is. Film and tv shows in North America are currently made in LA, New York, Atlanta, Louisiana, New Mexico, Vancouver, and Toronto (right now). I've pretty much come to the conclusion that there will never be much film and tv work in SF, the bread and butter work here for better or worse revolves around the tech industry. If you move here or somewhere else without an current established film industry and expect to have a career like Greg Irwin, it's just not gonna happen.
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#12 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:29 PM

If you had to pick one specific job in the filmmaking business you want to retire doing, what would it be?

I wanted to break in as a professional writer or over-paid security guard. Maybe both, but I've read articles that have regarded moving to LA as a must in order to increase chances of breaking in as a writer.


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#13 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:33 PM

Atlanta because Georgia tax incentives.

You gotta go where the work is. Film and tv shows in North America are currently made in LA, New York, Atlanta, Louisiana, New Mexico, Vancouver, and Toronto (right now). I've pretty much come to the conclusion that there will never be much film and tv work in SF, the bread and butter work here for better or worse revolves around the tech industry. If you move here or somewhere else without an current established film industry and expect to have a career like Greg Irwin, it's just not gonna happen.

But won't taxes be raised at some point, once it becomes too congested with productions? I know TBS and Tyler Perry are mostly responsible for its growth, but I feel it won't last long, things will get too expensive at one point. I know I won't break in easily anywhere, it's a matter of doing degradable PA work and finding a way to dethrone someone from their job and take it. It's so difficult to even know where to begin. Some say LA, other's say here or there.... it's chaos, it's a miracle how anyone makes it anywhere. 


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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:51 PM

Yes, the tax incentives will go away at some point. But the big studios and rental houses are building lots of infrastructure and training crew right now, so I would not expect production to go away overnight. By that point, you'll have so much available gear, stage space, and trained union crew that it won't make financial sense to just pick up and leave.
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#15 Justin Hayward

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 01:52 PM

I wanted to break in as a professional writer or over-paid security guard. Maybe both, but I've read articles that have regarded moving to LA as a must in order to increase chances of breaking in as a writer.

 

I believe that.  It's where the studio meetings take place.  I think there are two conversations going on.  We have a massive sound stage here in Chicago, but no New Line studio execs.  I doubt being a PA is ever going to get you a writing job, so I'm not sure moving where there's lots of film production is going to help unless you would rather make money being a PA while you write rather than working in a gas station while you write.

 

I say, write, pack your bags, write, move to LA, write, get a job, write... write... write... and do whatever it takes to get your scripts in front of producers and readers.  It goes without saying the odds of success are very, very, slim, but you can't succeed without trying.

 

This guy gives a lot of helpful advice to new screenwriters...

 

http://www.scriptsecrets.net


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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 02:06 PM

Instead of 'dethroning' someone, I would think of getting yourself ready to step up to the next position when that person moves up. In order to do that, you need to develop a wide network of contacts, get more set experience, and always keep improving your technical abilities and people skills. Filmmaking requires a lot of sustained interpersonal interaction under often stressful and potentially dangerous circumstances, so don't overlook how important it is to maintain a level head, have a good attitude, and be someone that others want to be around. Everything else can be taught.
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#17 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 02:12 PM

 

I believe that.  It's where the studio meetings take place.  I think there are two conversations going on.  We have a massive sound stage here in Chicago, but no New Line studio execs.  I doubt being a PA is ever going to get you a writing job, so I'm not sure moving where there's lots of film production is going to help unless you would rather make money being a PA while you write rather than working in a gas station while you write.

 

I say, write, pack your bags, write, move to LA, write, get a job, write... write... write... and do whatever it takes to get your scripts in front of producers and readers.  It goes without saying the odds of success are very, very, slim, but you can't succeed without trying.

 

This guy gives a lot of helpful advice to new screenwriters...

 

http://www.scriptsecrets.net

 

I was reading this great article from SCRIPTMAG which made sense http://www.scriptmag.com/features/primetime-do-all-screenwriters-have-to-live-in-l-a  

 

Starting off as a PA or working in the mail room of any production office would be a great way to get started.  I know failure is a huge part of trying- I'm not delusional thinking overnight success will happen, because it won't. But I'd rather take my chances and get rid of all doubt than to settle in some boring job. And there's also the porn industry, I've seriously considered working in porn as a part time gig if the opportunity is there. 


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#18 joshua gallegos

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 02:15 PM

Instead of 'dethroning' someone, I would think of getting yourself ready to step up to the next position when that person moves up. In order to do that, you need to develop a wide network of contacts, get more set experience, and always keep improving your technical abilities and people skills. Filmmaking requires a lot of sustained interpersonal interaction under often stressful and potentially dangerous circumstances, so don't overlook how important it is to maintain a level head, have a good attitude, and be someone that others want to be around. Everything else can be taught.

Great advice! 


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#19 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 02:25 PM

Speaking as someone who is also "outside the industry," I will give my two cents.  Develop your leadership skills.  There will be plenty of situations where you are not the leader but will be able to diplomatically point the leader in the right direction when he/she goes astray. 

 

And people take note of that in all fields.


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#20 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 24 October 2015 - 02:56 PM

When I moved from Boston to LA in 2002, I had a pretty good portfolio, some great little short films, had been shooting on celluloid for years (16/35) and was a pretty good camera man. I started working as a cinematographer right away, finding jobs anywhere I could. However, I was taken for a few rides, got screwed over many times and eventually needed to pay rent. Most of my friends had the same things happen. They started to build traction, only to be completely let down when the money didn't come OR the next job was canceled. So most of us left the creative side and worked on the non-creative side. It kept us in the industry, but it kinda destroyed most of our dreams. The sad part is, my situation is pretty typical. Everyone graduates film school with a head of steam and most of the time, only the ones who work 80+hr weeks hustling their ass off, living on coffee, adrenaline and no sleep, ever become successful.

The great thing about being a writer is that you can work from anywhere. I get sent spec scripts from all over the world and most of those people have full-time work outside of the industry. If you really want to write, I'd just do it as a pastime and get a really good full-time job wherever you want to live. If your scripts are good and they're winning festivals, people in the know will seek you out. Heck, I'm always looking for and reading other people's scripts. The biggest problem you'll have is someone stealing your idea because lets face it, you probably can't afford to fight them.

There are two ways to get your ideas made. One way is to have good industry connections and hook up with other young filmmakers like myself who are looking for ultra low budget scripts. You won't get much money for the writing, but your movie may get made. The other way is to make the movie yourself. This is obviously a lot harder, but it's absolutely doable if you spend years working towards that goal. It's gotta be a bitchin' little script, you've gotta shoot a short (proof of concept) to show people you know what you're doing and then somehow sell yourself. Yea... it's hard, but it's been done a lot. You'd be shocked how many first time filmmakers have used this trick and eventually been in line to win an oscar.

If you want to work in production, my suggestion is to come here with A LOT of savings, live very cheaply and work very cheaply. You've gotta be able to work for peanuts, show people you know what you're doing and eventually be dragged along to other jobs. This industry lives off word of mouth, there isn't anything else. So it's all about schmoozing, going to parties, working crazy hours, being consistent and a really good worker. If you can show people these things, you may be able to work up the ladder. However, it does take years and it really robs you of anything you'd consider to be a normal life.

Everyone has their own story and thoughts on this. I'll say this much, it's A LOT EASIER today then it was when I moved here. Yes, there is less work and less money, but today you can shoot something bitchin' on a thousand dollar cinema camera. Your little film can be seen by millions on the internet. That outlet didn't exist when I started making movies and I think that fact alone makes it easier then it's ever been.
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Abel Cine

Visual Products