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Old 07-06-2014, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
10 posts, read 16,354 times
Reputation: 13

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This is a bit of an existentialist post, but it really does hit on city differences and very city-specific stuff. I hope it will be interesting, but also yield some positive, helpful answers, for me and for others who I think may be feeling the same thing, but not quite putting a finger on it.

Eleanore Roosevelt once said, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

I am in my early 30s. I spent the first half of my life, when I didn't have to worry much about making a living (through I was very entrepreneurial anyway), as an artist. I was trained in music as a kid, made music all the time, and got heavily into the production side of music. I spent 10,000 hours+ doing this, and learned all the technical ins and outs of production. I thought I might go to college for this, but then the internet happened, and it seemed that music was no longer a profitable industry, was oversaturated, and work for music producers/engineers was limited to a very few.

During the same time I developed an interest in making (short) films. This was actually very much the same art, just using different hardware and software and techniques. Over the years I got my 10,000 hours here, too.

These two things became my passion; producing music (working in the studio with the big console and all the vintage and modern equipment), and directing films, using 35mm cameras and digital editing software. People were always impressed with my work. I played in several bands and people were always impressed.

All of this made me happy, and proud.

When it came time to leave that sheltered part of life, I studied computer engineering and software design, and then studied law (JD) and business (MBA), eventually becoming a Senior Web Engineer and later, Product Manager . My thought was, "If I can just get the pieces in place, I can make enough money to pursue what I really want to do, which is be an artist; a film director". So I went about getting my 10,000 hours in this area, living in the US's "real" cities (public transit, density, well planned, etc), only to find that with all these things, I wasn't happy, only that I could make money, but not the zillions of dollars it would take to finance my own film studio (a stupid idea in hindsight, but made sense years ago).

Now, after the second half of my life spent doing these things, being an attorney, a senior software engineer, and a product manager at some high profile companies, I started to look deeper.

I began to notice that big, innovative ideas I'd had over the years, were being figured out by other, famous film directors, and put to use. I felt robbed. I wasn't really robbed; I'd just had those ideas, and not put them to use where I should have. That's a really annoying feeling.

There is truth in the science that shows that, while being poor causes unhappiness, being rich does not cause happiness. Once you go beyond a certain point (e.g., $60k/year), HAPPINESS completely flatlines, and is not statistically different from those making a million, or a billion dollars a year.

This recently got me thinking. What would really make me happy? The answer is something I have known a long time; it would be to do the things that I already knew made me happy (be an artist), which I had done before I had to concern myself with money and making a living. I can do amazing things with software and networks and the cloud; but it doesn't make me happy. My knowledge exceeds most managers, and that further frustrates the issue.

So, the thing for me, that I have always thought I could not do, was move to Los Angeles, and give it a go. I would make up a million excuses–the traffic, the smug, the constant temptation of drugs and other bad things in your face, bad greedy people, and, personally, for me, living in a city that isn't really a city, but just a sprawling mess of cities. Up until now I've lived in every "cool" city in the US, traveled throughout Europe, and Asia, and I lean towards dense cities (take NYC as an extreme example–though I couldn't stand it because I'd gotten used to the scenery and outdoors on the west coast) that are well-planned and have excellent public transportation. All of this was counter to what I've become used to.

Yet, I've also come to believe that to be happy, one must not only deeply develop a skill in an area, but have such passion for whatever they are doing, that they would do it if money were no issue. Something they can become so sucked into that they forget they exist; something that is pure joy even when it is frustrating. I've experienced this, but it was in the first half of my life so far. The jobs I've had have only had one part of this equation. I have my 10,000 hours in several fields (the fields all mentioned here), and while I can do those jobs well, they have never made me happy.

So, despite everything terrible I have told myself about LA, I am now seriously thinking about dropping everything and moving there. Because, even if I fail, at least I will have tried to do, as a job, the things that make me happy (the artist in me).

I have spent much time on the west coast; living much in Seattle, San Francisco, and spending a lot of time in San Diego. I've spent time in LA, but it was always nighttime jaunts from San Diego and I never really knew where I was (probably downtownish).

For someone wanting to move to LA to pursue their dreams as a director, with quite a bit of mature experience in other fields, where are the places to move and live that will allow access to the right kinds of people, the right industries, nature opportunities as close to SF/Seattle as possible, and as little traffic as possible? I only know of a few places that sound remotely like this–Santa Monica, Simi Valley, Santa Barbara (much farther out I suppose), and maybe North Hollywood?

What I'm wondering is, can one have a decent lifestyle, avoid the usual LA pitfalls, and still pursue their entertainment-industry career, while living in safe, nice areas?

I realize there are no "walkable" areas in LA. And this will take getting used to. But what is the closest thing?

Having the fortunate trade of being a senior software engineer, I assume I can fall back on software work to foot the bill, should I need to.

What is LA's tech scene like, and is there an area/neighborhood where a lot of funded startups/Rails/Python/Cutting Edge software-based companies are centered around? Would this be a good bet for someone in my position?

Or is this industry really as polarized around the Bay Area as entertainment is around LA?

Lastly, if anyone happens to be in the software industry in LA, do you find that employees spend their off time pursuing entertainment industry gigs? Do you find that software companies are more media-related than in other places?

Thank you for any advice, I appreciate it.

I want to do the thing I think I cannot do. And I want to be smart about it–this is really the only major city in the US that I don't know like the back of my hand (it always seemed too spread out to learn).
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Old 07-06-2014, 11:55 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 11,454,583 times
Reputation: 12309
Quote:
Originally Posted by rcee View Post
where are the places to move and live that will allow access to the right kinds of people, the right industries, nature opportunities as close to SF/Seattle as possible, and as little traffic as possible? I only know of a few places that sound remotely like this–Santa Monica, Simi Valley, Santa Barbara (much farther out I suppose), and maybe North Hollywood?
Addressing just this part, you might like Malibu, Calabasas, or Agoura Hills. Lots of access to nature, beaches, hiking trails. Low crime. Traffic is limited to freeways; streets are relatively quiet.

Santa Monica is dense, high street traffic, but lots of culture, and beachy weather. It is adjacent to studios in Culver City and Los Angeles. Simi is too declasse and Santa Barbara too far. Pasadena is arty and somewhat walkable, but less set in nature and has lots of street traffic. Pasadena is adjacent to all the studios in Burbank. North Hollywood is less arty and more gritty on the edges, with lots of street traffic, but closer to Hollywood. Far from nature.

And the LA metro is so massive, there are very few people who can claim to know all its cities and features. It's hard enough to understand the freeway system alone.
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:00 AM
 
Location: Orange County, CA
1,723 posts, read 2,556,002 times
Reputation: 1691
The tech coast goes from Santa Monica down to Manhattan Beach. Lots of new things going up in that stretch.

Why do you not think LA is walkable? It's not Manhattan or San Francisco, but it's pretty dense. We live in Mar Vista area and walk to indie coffee shops for breakfast and lots of mom and pop restaurants, bike stores, groceries, even some nice little dollar stores. There are also wine bars and sports bars and even a gay bar in Venice.

I know a lot of folks who make quite good income working in tech, software development, web advertising stuff, startups, etc...

You can definitely have small town here. LA is as big or as small as you want it to be. If you work in a cool area, you can live there, ride a bike or walk around, and never need to deal with the other 18 million folks in the metro. It's all up to you.
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Old 07-07-2014, 09:35 AM
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11,386 posts, read 10,528,214 times
Reputation: 6606
Holy cow, long post.
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:24 AM
 
Location: West Hollywood, CA
1,238 posts, read 1,425,960 times
Reputation: 974
Since you don't mind hopping from major city to major city, move to LA. Drop the stupid stereotypes you've come to learn about LA, nobody wants to hear your whiny sob story. Especially when it seems you have the savings account to make it happen. Find a group of friends that like filming their own projects, show off your directing chops and take it from there. You may not become Tarantino, Fincher, or Scorsese, but at least you can spend your free time immersing yourself in what makes you truly happy. Put in the hours at a job that will make you a living, and put in the energy to finding people who have the same interests you do.

All the other stuff in your post is annoying, nonsensical, and completely subjective. If you want to improve your life happiness, instead of writing about what you don't like, make a plan for what you do like and what you want to achieve. Focusing on the negative gets you nothing but an eye-roll and a 'please stay in the city with "good public transportation, density, and urban planning".'
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Old 07-07-2014, 05:58 PM
 
Location: South Bay
7,115 posts, read 19,065,595 times
Reputation: 3366
If you're as good as you say with software, you could easily make six figures as a contractor and not be tied to a permanent position. Find a good agency that won't rip you off and see what's available. There's a lot of interesting tech going on in LA, especially with companies related to the entertainment industry.
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