The Bitter Script Reader posted some advice about how to survive to move to LA. I tried to comment over there and it won’t let me, but this is what I said.
1) Get settled so that you’re as comfortable as possible — living out of boxes makes everything seem transient. Have roommates or whatever, but make sure that you’ve got a space, however small, that is yours. Spend some time driving around the city and getting to know places. Find the studios. (Have a car!)
2) I really love Glendale, it’s safe and cheapish. Frogtown is super cheap. North Hollywood is becoming a lot safer, the parts closer to the 134 are totally fine for a single girl to live in.
2) I would say you probably need at least 7k in the bank before coming out here and at least two finished scripts and some outlines for more. Basically, you need enough money that you can go several months without making much money at all and enough written that if you’re too discombobulated to write, you’ve got something to work with. I applied for internships and jobs for 6 months before I moved out and it still took me 3 months to land a part time paid gig, though I did have an internship lined up.
3) Apply to every job you can find, do things for free, take an internship in the industry if you can afford it and then work at whatever you can in the rest of the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s an industry job, making contacts of all sorts is important, life experience, all that jazz. I’m not super social and I don’t like to drink, but working on other people’s projects is a great way to meet people and learn useful skills.
4) Find something else you can do in the industry besides writing. Can you edit? Can you gaff? Find a way to make yourself useful. Pursue every avenue. Learn to script supe, that’s easy and low impact. Find something you like to do that isn’t writing.
5) A lot of people would say find a writing group. I personally am not in one, but I have a large group of friends who I can get advice from. Writing groups are pretty useful if you don’t have that.
6) Apply selectively to contests, but do apply. I’ve definitely gotten contacts from agents and managers and earned some street cred by placing in contests people had heard of.
7) Mandy.com, realitystaff.com, and craigslist are your new friends. I personally don’t really like the UTA job list, but it’s out there too.
8) Figure out a way to make your commute worthwhile. A voice recorder is great if you can think outloud for writing purposes. I listen to a lot of audiobooks.
9) Do things that have nothing to do with film because people who only talk about film are boring. Read books, magazines, go do stuff that’s got seriously zero to do with film and then you’ll have something interesting to talk about. The reason Hollywood loves young blood is because they have experience outside of the Hollywood system and they haven’t quite yet been turned into normal LA people who can only talk about themselves and movies.
10) Write genre scripts that can be produced cheaply if you’re really out to make a sell.
11) Don’t ever be a douchebag. Don’t have a temper. If you talk shit online, don’t use names. (Unless revealing scam artists!)
12) Conversely, if you’re working for free, you have the right to be treated well and to learn something from the experience. Don’t be afraid of anyone. And don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, just don’t be aggressive. Along these lines, know how much you should be getting paid, even if you’re not being paid that. This is useful info.
13) Be on the look out for scams. Not all competitions are worthwhile. Not all agents are legit. If someone asks you for money upfront to be your agent, that guy is a scam artist. (google Eddie Kritzer)
14) If you’re a lady writer with a girly name, I’d recommend using your initials. That sounds terrible, but there’s genuine gender bias out here and I’m super lucky that all the other Ashleys out here are guys. This is especially true if you’re replying to internet ad, because internet people are super creepy.
15) Give yourself deadlines so that you’re not constantly second guessing yourself and make sure they’re reasonable. I, for example, haven’t always been totally sure LA is the place for me, but I’m only allowed to seriously think about moving during the month of August. So I don’t dwell on it in general.
(I never had a problem with the tap water, don’t know what people are talking about)
Today is the drop date of the list of Hollywood’s favorite “unproduced” screenplays of the year. Of course, almost everything on the list is in production or has been optioned. But there are a few scripts that might get that extra needed bump simply by being on this list!
More on what the black list is: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-currid11-2009dec11,0,6702050.story
40% of the 2005 list and 30% of 2006 list have been made into films so far.
Some Black List Scripts: The Queen, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Hancock, Things we lost in the Fire, Rendition, A Mighty Heart, There Will Be Blood.
What I’ve learned: You don’t break into the industry with a Mockumentary.
People really enjoy reading them, but no one wants to make them or believes you can write based on them. Which is weird because there’s a screenplay sitting there that they really enjoyed, but despite the success of The Office and Best in Show, and reality style in general, Mockumentaries are apparently too difficult to set up in Hollywood.
I wrote the screenplay because I liked the story and I love mockumentaries, I really never thought it’d be getting attention from Hollywood. From small indie producers, maybe. Maybe I hoped Christopher Guest would somehow find it on his reading list. But I didn’t figure Hollywood would be interested. And I was wrong in that they seem to have liked reading it enough to stay in touch with me, but not enough to take it on board.
15: Congratulations on your recent 2009 Nicholl Fellowship success! We read about you and would love to read your script BIBLE CON.
At *** Entertainment we manage about 50 writers in television and film, and produce feature films as well.
I’ve attached our **** Entertainment release form, and need it filled out for each piece of material being submitted. Despite its stringent language, I can assure you this is an industry-standard release form. Please fill out the form and either scan and email with the script, or fax the release to *** and then e-mail the script, or you can throw it all in the mail as well – our address is in my signature below.
16: I actually got this a long time ago and missed it
Congrats on your script being a semi-finalist in the Nicholl competition!
Sounds interesting–may I read it? My company manages screenwriters and playwrights and we are always reading new screenplays to find potential clients we can introduce to the Hollywood studio system.
Can you email me a copy?