Author Topic: Make a living in LA  (Read 5984 times)

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killafilm

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2005, 01:47:50 PM »
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Yeah, first posters whatever.

Then about the contacts.  From what I've experienced and seen happen to other friends, is that you really have to start from the ground up again out here.  It's along the lines of "You worked with the DP whose so & so played in Sundance and won a Student Oscar... that's neat.  Well it looks like our G&E dept is full.  Sorry.  Click." I guess if you've worked on some BIG stuff that might not be the case. 

polkablues

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2005, 03:18:14 PM »
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Then about the contacts. From what I've experienced and seen happen to other friends, is that you really have to start from the ground up again out here. It's along the lines of "You worked with the DP whose so & so played in Sundance and won a Student Oscar... that's neat. Well it looks like our G&E dept is full. Sorry. Click." I guess if you've worked on some BIG stuff that might not be the case.

Right, I'm not saying that you can go into wherever and say, "I worked with whoever," and get a job out of it.  I'm saying that if you play it right, you can get work directly from those people you worked with previously.  Either they know someone and can give you a referral, or they made the move to LA themselves and got work, or maybe you'll have worked with someone who is primarily based in LA but went to wherever you used to be to work on whatever.  In my case, when and if I ever do feel like moving to LA, there are at least two people down there whom I know can and will get me work, because I worked with them on projects up in Seattle and cultivated those relationships with them.
Now you're in the *spoiler* place.

soixante

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2005, 04:24:04 PM »
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If you go to L.A., make sure you've saved up a decent amount of money, because the cost of living is quite high.

My advice is to take any film-related position, no matter how low it pays.  Even be willing to work for free, if you can afford it to go without a paycheck for a few weeks.  Be willing to do anything.  Also, it's important to get along with people.  There are a lot of talented film school grads trying to break in, so talent isn't enough -- you have to be able to work in a high pressure environment and deal with different personalities.  Just focus on the work and don't make problems.  Complainers don't last long.  Silence is a priceless attribute.

I have two case studies of people I knew in film school who were driven and talented, but crashed and burned because they had shoddy social skills.

In one case, a friend got a job in the mail room at William Morris.  Unfortunately, his personality wasn't flexibile enough to deal with the political nuances going on.

Another guy I know finally got a job directing some cable TV filler segments.  He spent way too much time trying to get just one shot, and he got into a shouting match with a female producer, even called her a bitch.  I think it's no coincidence that he never worked in TV or film again.

Relationships are important.  Film school is a good way to make contacts, but a cheaper route is to take film related courses at community colleges.  UCLA Extension offers a lot of film courses, taught by industry professionals (this is not a plug for UCLA Extension, by the way).

You have to be pro-active.  While hunting for work, shoot footage on the weekend.  Hone your filming and editing skills.  Expand your skill base.  Work on a script.  One good script can open a lot of doors.

If you can't find work, make work.  Also, be patient.  It might take five years to break through, maybe longer.  Drudgery and disappointment will be your closest friends, until you break through.

Successful people don't listen to negative people.  They find a way to succeed.





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matt35mm

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2005, 05:18:44 PM »
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Successful people don't listen to negative people.  They find a way to succeed.
This is the main thing to take away from this whole thread.

Looking at successful people (like whomever our heros may be), this is the only thing that they all have in common.  Not that you shouldn't have a plan, but better this attitude with no plan than with a plan and a poor attitude.  Attitude is key.  What I mean is, have a plan, but be flexible, or else you might not catch a great opportunity.  And think in long-term, not in short-term.  I think too many people are ruined by their desire for instant-gratification.  These are the people that go, "Man, I feel like making a movie!" and a week later, they have a movie, but it's shit.

Have plans (not daydreams, but actual plans like blueprints) of where you'll be in one year, in two years, in 5 years, after you move to L.A.

But mainly: "find a way to succeed."  Just fucking find that fucking way.

killafilm

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2005, 01:01:15 PM »
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Then about the contacts. From what I've experienced and seen happen to other friends, is that you really have to start from the ground up again out here. It's along the lines of "You worked with the DP whose so & so played in Sundance and won a Student Oscar... that's neat. Well it looks like our G&E dept is full. Sorry. Click." I guess if you've worked on some BIG stuff that might not be the case.

Right, I'm not saying that you can go into wherever and say, "I worked with whoever," and get a job out of it. I'm saying that if you play it right, you can get work directly from those people you worked with previously. Either they know someone and can give you a referral, or they made the move to LA themselves and got work, or maybe you'll have worked with someone who is primarily based in LA but went to wherever you used to be to work on whatever. In my case, when and if I ever do feel like moving to LA, there are at least two people down there whom I know can and will get me work, because I worked with them on projects up in Seattle and cultivated those relationships with them.

I'd still be skeptical.  I have classmates and a small network of people that I "cultivated" relationships with out here, as did some friends of mine.  Unless they're in a direct position to hire you, it's been my experience your chances are slim.  I don't know what else to say, LA is different.  I got a little lucky and worked on a short through Craigslist that had a union grip and one of the cam ops from Serenity, so those 'are' good contacts.  But it's not like they can get you work or into the Union.  Though the grip has pushed to get me onto some gigs before they went Union, it's just never happened.

soixante

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2005, 01:37:45 PM »
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You have to be patient.  Sometimes contacts don't pay off for years.

Killafilm, you're off to a good start, meeting a union grip.  That person might help you down the line, or he might introduce you to other people, or he can give you career advice.  The "degrees of separation" rule works.  If you know the union grip, you indirectly know everyone he knows.  You also pointed out something interesting -- you never know who you'll meet on a crew.  Quite often, professional cameramen work on shorts, commercials and even side projects for friends.  I would also suggest working as P.A. for USC and UCLA student films.  There are also film clubs, folks who make short films and critique each other's work.

If you can't get paying work, work for free on weekends on whatever projects you can find.

Another option is to make a short film, and put a notice on craigslist or somewhere and say that you need crew members, and have people submit resumes and demo reels.  This could be a good way to make connections.
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Gamblour.

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2005, 08:35:17 PM »
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Yeah i'm just gonna stay here. My point of view has always been why go to the ultra hub of competition when you can carve it out where you came from? Why go into the fray when you can shoot arrows from the outside? I think this idea is as valid as the next, considering the amount of luck and hard work involved regardless. Oh yeah, I meant to include talent there too. Call me crazy, call me a pervert. But mostly call me naive...

To continue, I really don't see the point of wasting money on an expensive place like LA when I can rent equipment and buy film and blow my money that way. At least I'll have something creative to show for it and I won't dick around wishing to meet some guy to hook me up. Why hope to squeeze through the cracks like that? Why not make films and if they can get picked up, awesome, if not, at least you did something?
WWPTAD?

soixante

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #22 on: December 06, 2005, 12:15:37 PM »
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That is the other approach, just staying where you are and making things happen for yourself.  Considering how cheap it is to make a digital feature, there's no need to beg anyone for money.  The drawback to L.A. is that thousands of people are vying for a few spots.  You can work your way up the ladder and never end up directing anything.

Even if you're successful in Hollywood, you can get pigeonholed as a writer or cinematographer, and it is hard to break through to the next level as a director.  The studios rarely take a chance on someone who's never directed anything before.  A guy with a $500 digital recorder can jump ahead of the competition simply by making a good film.

There are plenty of filmmakers who are not based in either LA or NY -- such as Gus Van Sant and Neil La Bute.  Peter Jackson didn't start out in LA, and that didn't hurt his career at all.

Music is your best entertainment value.

Pubrick

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Re: Make a living in LA
« Reply #23 on: December 06, 2005, 12:20:24 PM »
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Peter Jackson didn't start out in LA, and that didn't hurt his career at all.
neither did being extremely talented. you're right, location isn't everything..
endless 'nothing is what it seems'-isms

 

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