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Should I get my driver’s license before moving to Los Angeles?

moving to los angeles, personal stories
Lost

Angel writes:

So I am currently living in NYC but it has always been my dream to move to LA. At this point in my life I am so miserable here and I feel like it’s Groundhog’s’  day, I feel like if I stay here my life will be the same and never change. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that I will move to LA and things will be perfect but I just feel like staying here I know how things will be.

My job told me that I can transfer to LA (I would work from home) which I think is great but here is what’s stopping me: I have been trying to get to LA since 2013 and yet here I am in NYC, it all boils down to money. Every time I think I have enough something goes wrong and I don’t know if it’s a sign telling me to stay where I am or a sign telling me to fight for where I want to be.

My current dilemma is I don’t have a driver’s license or a car and if I moved I think I would have to get my own place since I currently have a studio apartment with a bunch of stuff ( I’m attempting to sell some things but I still have a lot of stuff and kitchenware). I recently got hit with another money issue and now when the time comes for me to move to LA I will probably have a little over $9,000 saved. Also I would have to live in Hollywood (I saw some decently priced apartments for like $945, $1025, $1100) or somewhere near West Hollywood because work events typically take place in that neighborhood.

Would it be wise for me to get my license before I move out there? Should I stay in NYC for another year and try to save more money? I just feel so miserable here like I’m wasting my life.

There are a handful of reasons why I never should have moved to Los Angeles.

The small restaurant my father and I opened in Albany, New York, smack-dab in the middle of the recession, had finally arrived. Every weekend, we packed the inside, the patio, and the bar with customers. People drove an hour to eat there, our tiny mom-n-pop tucked so invisibly into a strip mall that even the locals got lost.

Like many fathers, mine had grand plans for his son. He was calling real estate agents. He was ready to expand.

He’d run the second, then third store. I’d stay at the first store. When he retired, he’d turn it all over to me.

It would have been a comfortable life.

There was just one small hitch: I already decided to move to LA to pursue screenwriting. Despite never having written a screenplay, not knowing anyone, and without a job lined up.

Do you see obstacles or opportunities?

You can look at most situations  in one of two ways. You can see it full of obstacles, or you can see opportunities.

At first glance, my decision to move to Los Angeles was riddled with obstacles: no job, no experience, no connections. Not to mention, the opportunity cost of walking away from the family business.

But I swear I didn’t notice any of these obstacles. They didn’t exist — because I only saw the opportunities. I only saw things working in my favor:

  • I had zero debt. I just made the last payment on my college loans  
  • I didn’t need much. I couchsurfed for 6 weeks in Argentina with only what I could carry in one  backpack, so I knew I could get by with very little
  • I could always make money. I could always wait tables to get started

Most importantly, I truly believed I could outwork most people. I didn’t know if I had the skill sets, but I always believed that hard work was the great equalizer.

Our natural blindspots

Let me show you the difference between how Angel sees her situation and how I see it.

Angel sees her situation as full of obstacles:

  • No license
  • Too much stuff
  • Not enough money

(By the way, it’s totally normal to see life this way. We all have natural blind spots when it comes to our lives. It’s the reason why your best friend dates assholes and everyone sees it except for her.)

When I look at the situation, I see it filled with nothing but opportunities. I see so many things in her favor, the scale is practically toppled over.

  • A job. You’re going in with a job! This is the hardest piece of the puzzle to solve, and you already got it locked down. That’s amazing
  • It’s a remote job. You don’t need to commute in Los Angeles — you don’t even need a car or a license. Punt that problem until you’re in LA and you need a  car
  • She already knows the area she should live in. This just saved you 20+ hours of research and looking at other neighborhoods

Everything else? They’re distractions.

Too much stuff? Kitchenware?

Angel, I’ll be brutally honest, because I care so much that you change something up in your life: Too much stuff isn’t an obstacle. Stuff is a distraction. Sell it, give it away, and get rid of it. You can buy it all again.

You’re miserable. You said it yourself. You’re miserable… and you’re holding yourself back over a driver’s license and kitchenware.

Misery is like a dull toothache. You can put off doing anything about it for a long time, until eventually you learn to live with it.

I don’t want you to “learn to live with it.” I want you to take advantage of everything working in your favor, stop “dreaming of moving to LA,” and get there.

Photo Credit: Leo Hidalgo

Why they never break in

career, moving to los angeles, personal stories, random thoughts
ali

That first decision to move to Los Angeles is thrilling.

You dream. Gorgeous weather. Warm sand stretching on the shore from Malibu to Redondo, curling between your toes. Finally the right environment to grow and find people like you.

Then you look at the practical details to actualize this dream…

  • How much to save
  • Your skill level at your chosen craft
  • A network to build your career

It can be hard to believe you can actually do it.

Every day can feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill. The dollars never add up. Your skills don’t stack up to the professionals and despite sending dozens of emails, you still haven’t connected with anyone who can help you.

To the untrained eye, it looks like you haven’t done much at all.

But here’s what I see:

  • Steady progress towards reaching a savings goal that you’re inching towards everyday
  • Someone improving their craft each minute they work
  • Every email sent building a relationship — whether you get a response or not

It takes time.

People don’t make it not because they weren’t good enough.

They just didn’t work for long enough. [click to continue…]

How to get agents to ask YOU to read your script

how hollywood works: TV, representation, writer's room
quality time

Last week, I showed you a note requesting help from my friend, Jeff. Jeff’s friend wanted his contacts, so he could pitch a script for representation.

Jeff is a good dude. Instead of telling him to spend 4 years of his life building his own contacts (as others would have) he decided to help.

He showed him how to get agents to read his script.

Jeff’s email I’m sharing below is specifically about screenwriting, but the same principles apply to acting, music, photography, etc.  

A little context: Jeff moved to LA with no contacts, no car, and no job in 2010. Today he’s an associate producer on Vanderpump Rules and writes and produces the web series “Quality Time”. He drops A LOT of knowledge in this email, so I hope you enjoy.

Here’s his response. [click to continue…]

Would you help him?

first hollywood job, moving to los angeles, random thoughts, work
hollywood vine

Here’s a note my friend received recently, via LinkedIn:

Hey Jeff,

Glad to link with you on this thing. Pun intended.

I’m really trying to push my television pilot. I know you’re not looking but could you possibly lead me to some places (or folks) that are? I promise I won’t make you look bad. 🙂

Or you can hit me on the personal tip: [HIS EMAIL]

Any advice at all would be appreciated.

One love.

Let’s analyze all the things wrong here, then commit them to memory. Because if you’re going to make it in Los Angeles, you will have to ask for help.

But you have to do it the right way.

Here we go: [click to continue…]

How to apply and land your first Hollywood job in Los Angeles

career, first hollywood job, interviewing
hollywood

The first thing I did after I landed a job with Dennis Lehane?

Write the job posting for my current assistant gig and send it to my friends. I had two weeks to find and train my new-hire, before Dennis had me watching/studying Mad Men and Deadwood for hours at a time #thestrugglewasreal.  

I thought it’d be cool to dive between the lines of the job posting I wrote. Give you an inside-the-mind look at that crucial, rare moment in entertainment where the clouds part, and sunshine pours down upon the heads of lowly transplants stealing Wi-Fi from Starbucks (I see you).

What moment am I referring to?

An opening at an entry-level position. A true entry-level position. None of this “5-years-experience before I let you answer my phones” babble.

experience_meme

See below for the official job description. Between the lines I’ll include what you should be reading, erhm, between the lines.

(BTW, if you were paying attention I already dropped 2 crispy, golden, job-application nuggets in the first 3 sentences of this post. Because I’m crafty like that.)

Here we go: [click to continue…]