Hi Film Folk,
We hope you’ve enjoyed/are enjoying the April festivities (if such is relevant to you) and are ready to dive into another week of work?
For this week’s Monday Prescription, the Film Doctor team dig into a much argued-over topic – should all filmmakers move to Los Angeles? There are some studio writers working from European bases who say no. There are also some studio writers/producers who say you absolutely MUST be in Los Angeles.
The truth? Well, it’s much more in the middle.
OK – so the question is already as wide and general as can be – of course ALL filmmakers don’t need to move to the ‘City of Angels’…but some of you do. If you have a good sense of yourself or this topic, then stop reading now. If, however, this is a question that often resurfaces or plagues you, wherever you are in your career or life, then read on!
So – should I be in LA?
1. It depends on what you want – This is stating the obvious but everything really is relative to what you are looking for. If you want ‘Hollywood’, then go to Hollywood – or at least make sure you are frequently dealing with people/circles involved in ‘Hollywood productions’. Most studio employees will say you need to be ‘in it’ to be in it!
If however, the apple of your filmmaking eye is making more regional fare – or making something staunchly independent – then perhaps an immediate move (or a move at all) doesn’t have to be on the cards. Say you’re living in Denmark or the North of England and making something in Danish or that might only have a certain national appeal to the UK? A move to LA will not bolster your particular chances of receiving financing/opportunities with those specific types of film because the most likely home to those films are Denmark or England.
This comes down to knowing/choosing your market. Where do your type of films sell? Where are they made? Who finances them? Which countries appreciate them? Do your research!
So what do you want? To be involved with films or specifically ‘Hollywood films’? Your answer will be your answer!
2. It depends on what job you’re pursuing – Are you an Actor? Writer? Director? Producer? Certain jobs require less of a move. There’s no doubt that there are much more castings in LA than, say, London. Are the type of characters you are best suited to to be found in LA? If so, pack your bags! There are also more studio writing jobs farmed out across LA when, say, a writer in Texas might not be the obvious choice.
Directing and Producing roles may be less country specific, depending on where you’re filming, doing post and which market you’re intending to appeal to. For example, you may shoot in London and Lisbon, do VFX in Canada and the rest of post in Poland. Of all the jobs, Directing and Producing are the ones that may require the most movement and potentially the least need for a fixed location to live.But location is nothing without an attitude audit.
3. It depends on how you’re behaving – It’s not just the place, it’s the attitude you have in the place. There might be people who live in Kentucky or rural France who have more ‘LA success’ than a home-grown Angeleno because they have been more actively ‘connecting the dots’. Wherever you are and whatever job you’re after, your social approach (online and off – neither substitute the other!) is paramount. Do you ‘get amongst it’? Do you help others? Do you ask for favours? Do you go to parties? Do you stay in touch with the people you meet?
If where you currently live is important to you but you want ‘LA work’, then make sure that visiting LA isn’t a barrier. Most agents, producers etc can forgive not being neighbours if you can fly out at a moment’s notice. So get the income/in the condition to be able to get there when you can.
4. What do you want and what do you want more? – This isn’t so much an answer we can give you but a question that you should really think long and hard about and dig deep into. What’s more important to you at this stage on your journey? Location? Work? Glitz and Glamour? Kitchen sink dramas? Don’t let anybody discourage you or make you feel bad about what you want, whether it’s big, loud noisy action films, Rom Coms or small quirky regional dramas. There is nothing wrong with wanting what you want – the key is knowing, are you in the right place to get it??
5. Count what you have – Don’t just focus on what you want. What do you have? If you have a huge range of contacts and work/avenues for work where you are now (AND it’s the type of work you want) then maybe just plugging away where you are is what the doctor ordered.
See more on this topic with ‘Are you even in the right country?’