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Old 10-10-2011, 07:43 PM
19 posts, read 27,110 times
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Hi, everyone. I'm new to this forum and am seeking some advice...

Right now, I'm living in Southern California; I lived in LA in for about half a year and definitely did not enjoy my experience there. I know that half a year is not much of a chance to give a place and I am willing to give it more of a try, but I've always been drawn to NYC more than LA anyway.

I am committed to working in television and film (or at least trying my very best to get into these industries). From what I've heard/read so far, it seems that LA has many more opportunities in TV and NYC has about equal when it comes to film. I'm just wondering if anyone from this forum has any additional insight.

TV is my primary passion (I want to be a TV writer and someday an executive producer for my own series)...Is it probable to follow this career path in NYC or am I more likely doomed to make my way in LA?

Thanks in advance for any advice or info!
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Old 10-10-2011, 09:07 PM
Location: No Sleep Til Brooklyn
1,413 posts, read 4,679,956 times
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I'm usually very pro film folks moving to NYC, but if you want to write for TV, you need to be in LA. Sorry, I know LA is an awful place, but television writing is usually a group thing (breaking stories in the room, etc) and you would be surprised over the number of NYC productions that are actually written in LA.

Of course, if you have a stellar script, show bible and and some name attachments, you may be able to convince someone to produce your show here.
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Old 10-10-2011, 09:19 PM
Location: Brooklyn, NYC
1,397 posts, read 1,998,594 times
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To me, I always seem to think NYC is a unsolicited city, when it comes to film & TV. You have to have a reference or else your chances or slim.

Music wise is a bit easier bars, showcases, etc. But as far as film and TV, your best bet is to be the best in L.A and eventually you'll get the call that People in New York want to see you.

BUT I'm opposed to doing things the traditional way so I say, move to NYC and work, eat, work, explore, work, nap (never sleep), work, etc.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:41 AM
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Thanks for the two replies so far. A couple more questions...

1.) UpsonDowns, you seem to be under the same impression I am--that (quite unfortunately) TV opportunities are much more abundant in LA--but what are your thoughts on film? While my TV series has been my baby for 8 years, I am also passionate about film-making. If you happen to know, what exactly is the scene like in NY (versus LA) for aspiring film-makers?

2.) StuddedLeather, when you say that you have to have a reference, isn't it the same way in LA? Working one's way up through internships and jobs and networking, et cetera? Or is there something different you're saying about the scene in NY that I'm not catching?

Thanks again for the advice, and I'd love to hear more opinions.
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Old 10-11-2011, 06:41 AM
Location: Manhattan
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I have a couple friends in film or wanting to be. They had to move to LA...sorry.
(One could stand it no longer in LA, after about 10 years, and recently moved too the Bay Area.)

Personally, I HATE LA...I don't know how people live in an area where the air has no moisture in it. I spent a week with a continuous nosebleed and bright red eyes.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:28 PM
Location: No Sleep Til Brooklyn
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Lemony, what do you want to do in film? And what kind of films do you want to make/work on?

I highly recommend this interview from WNYC. The writers are being funny, but in my experience and from what I've seen among my friends, they speak the truth about film in NYC:
The Brian Lehrer Show: Box Office Gold - WNYC

I left big budget crap in LA to make indie crud in NYC, but living in NYC was worth it to me. Now I'm out of the biz entirely, but my friends who have stuck with it lead nice middle class lives (including award winners).
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Old 10-11-2011, 11:58 PM
19 posts, read 27,110 times
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Upson, I want to be a writer-director (and actor if I can). The kind of films I want to make are usually dramedies, odd romances, extremely character-driven pieces, quirky but not necessarily "edgy"...I guess in a lot of ways, I want my films to combine the best of big-budget movies and their independent counterparts. I want to tackle eccentric subject matter but do so in a way that still allows my films to have that old-time cinema magic...And now I'm rambling.

Anyway, I'd love to hear more about your journey in film and that of your friends as well. I really am so torn about this (NYC vs LA), and I know it's one of the most important decisions I'll make. Of course, your experience (and your friends') won't be the same as mine, but it's always helpful to hear first- and second-hand accounts of this stuff.

So if you don't mind me asking, what was your experience in LA like? What turned you off to LA (and to show biz)? And for your friends who are leading nice middle-class lives as filmmakers, do they live solely off film-making or do they have to have other, more "practical" jobs on the side?

Thanks again for the advice and info; I really appreciate it.
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Old 10-12-2011, 01:02 PM
Location: No Sleep Til Brooklyn
1,413 posts, read 4,679,956 times
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Hi Lemony, please excuse any typos and lack of through-line, I've got a new baby in my other arm.

Most of my friends in the business in NYC are below the line and they became successful by working hard, staying on top of new technologies, and working in multiple genres/mediums (docs, indies, reality, network and cable). They all support themselves and or their families through film/tv work, but they are experienced professionals with 10-20yrs of work behind them.

I'm not yet 40 and filmmaking has completely changed during my time. I expect it to keep on changing, but the cliche is true - cream rises to the top. The little things make a difference. For example, when one of my friends was a DGA trainee, he would set three alarms every morning because a single back-up wasn't enough. He was the UPM on one of last year's biggest blockbusters.

I'm sure I've written this on the forum 1,000 times, but cheap media is your friend. Take your scripts, get your friends together and start shooting. Don't wait for opportunities to come to you. The bottom line is that show business is a BUSINESS. People are only going to give you money to make stuff if they think they can make a profit. Also, the money folks don't have time to imagine things - you have to

I completely hear what you are saying about the kind of films you want to make. Are you willing to devote your life to it for the time being? Constantly hustle? Make crazy compromises like cast someone who is completely wrong for the part just because the backers think s/he is bankable? Are movies the only way to make your story public?

I left LA because I hated the lifestyle. Everyone I knew was in the business or wanted to be in the business. I read an interview with Sigourney Weaver once where she mentioned her ob/gyn asking her to read his script when she was in the stirrups. It may be just a funny tale, but I think it describes LA exactly. Being in the business in NYC feels much more balanced. If you go to a party and mention you are in film, people are interested for about five minutes but then they move on. In LA, they would be trying to figure out who you know and how you can help them. 24/7 company town was too much for me. But I must admit that I'm from northern CA and hating LA is simply part of life.

My bottom line is I still love movies and keep my eye on the business. But at this time, I'm not willing to put my creative dreams in someone else's hands.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:30 PM
19 posts, read 27,110 times
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Thanks for the reply again, Upson!

So when you say that you aren't willing to put your creative dreams in someone else's hands, do you mean that you found the LA film scene to be too...how do I put it...controlling of your ideas? Like, if you did get your script or story or whatever else picked up, that the execs would try to change it to fit their agenda/what they considered profitable too much? That is one thing I'm concerned about in regards to LA. I feel like a lot of my material is simultaneously button-pushing and appealing to the masses so I'm torn between the commercial (LA) and more indie (NYC).
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Old 10-14-2011, 01:46 PM
Location: No Sleep Til Brooklyn
1,413 posts, read 4,679,956 times
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Sorry, I wasn't clear. I was referring to why I've stepped away from the business for now. You have to make major compromises if you are in NYC or LA. For example, although I had a producer interested in the script closest to my heart and agreed it could be made for under 2 mil, one of the comments I received was "Can you make it more like Latest Indie Hit X?" Ugh.

To move forward in the business, my answer should have been "Of course!" But I if I wanted to make film like other films, I wouldn't have spent so much time crafting my own story. You know what I mean?

However, I have stepped away before and always go back in. Right now, I'm semi-exploring story platforms that may not have existed when I decided to go into film when I was 15.

What I have told my interns is you must follow your heart. Twenty years from now, what will you be proud of? What will you regret not trying?

If you do decide to go with the business in LA or NYC, go all out. in addition to drive, the people I know who have made it did not take ancillary jobs. No development gigs no production office work. Get on set or working in post. Be kind to everyone and make sure you know more about the world than just movies - it will improve your work.

(and listen to the back podcasts of interviews from the creative screenwriting series. you will learn much about the craft and the business. I found Michael Arndt and Nancy Oliver's interviews to be incredibly informative).

Last edited by UpsonDowns; 10-14-2011 at 01:50 PM.. Reason: additional info
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