Friday, March 27, 2009

Hollywood...

Italian filmmaker Bernardo Bertulucci referred to it as “the big nipple”. Paul Newman refused to move west, saying he’d be too close to the cookie jar. Having just visited Hollywood a second time, I definitely see what they mean.

LA is a movie town. Its wealthy inhabitants made their fortune in the film industry as artists or as facilitators. Its working class is comprised of commercial actors, television writers, and music video directors. Its other main industries – tabloids, porn – derive from movies.

LA seems like a good place for aspiring screenwriters. At NYU, many professors advocated a post-graduate move. But if we were married to New York City, they would say to establish ourselves in LA first, and then we’d be able to write from anywhere. A manager I met offered a different perspective: “LA, New York… Live where you’re inspired.”

That statement has a lot of resonance. Too often, I consider a potential relocation as a good career move, feeling more able to market myself in Hollywood. I never considered the effect that could have on my writing. Not just in terms of the physical writing, but also being within proximity of The League, my former professors, and good friends…all of which create a great writing environment.

Marketing is secondary to writing something that represents my voice and talent. And as we’ve seen from Juno and Gran Torino - and of course from our newly represented Cakeman - you don’t need to have an address on Sunset Boulevard to get noticed…you just need your address on the title page of a good script. At least that’s what my trip to Hollywood reaffirmed. And it also inspired me to return as soon as possible…via First Class, courtesy of the big nipple.

5 comments:

Zombie said...

Good thoughts. I've contemplated the move a lot, too... and it's just hard. I have a good job here that allows me the time and energy to write after I get out. I have friends here who encourage me to write. Would I really be better off pulling myself away from those things?

Onyx said...

Yeah, I'm sure we've all mulled over this for many hours. I've got a decent job in New York and a girlfriend who loves the city, but I keep telling myself that I have to try LA at some point. The vast majority of the people I've spoken with who have been fortunate enough to be active in the industry for at least a bit say that I have to try LA. It is the cookie jar, but there aren't enough cookies to go around for all of us scratching and clawing to get in this industry. A move to LA puts you in better position and will open the door for more opportunities. Right now I try to keep the idea of moving in the back of my head because I know I don't have the body of work I'd want to go out there with. I'm a firm believer in moving out there with ammunition. Right now I don't have enough quality stuff for the grind. Working on changing that.

Cake Man said...

Yeah, I've thought about the move. Personally, I don't want to do it until electric cars are within my price range (but that's just my environmental-nut side kicking in). Definitely agree with Onyx that it's a better idea to have a solid body of work before going West. A professor once told my (Onyx or Backer, I'm pretty sure one or both of you were there) that a move doesn't make sense until you have, at least: one completed script, one treatment, and one pitch.

Ultimately, though, as 'Backer pointed out, it IS possible to do things from the east coast, we well. There are movie biz people in NYC - though not as many. Some of the huge agencies do have offices here, though, and a lot of boutiques are in the City. It's a matter or personal preference, to a degree. If someone told me today that they'd buy my script tomorrow if I were in LA, however, I'd be on the next flight out.

Kid Sis said...

I wouldn't do it. I've been here for another four year stint now and know a ton of talented, dedicated writers...they're all going bankrupt, losing their houses, part of the 20% unemployed/underemployed California workforce...and yes, they all have at least one great screenplay. Stay where you are and be happy to have a job that gives you time to write. And start writing for the internet instead.

Cake Man said...

Good advice all around, Kid Sis. I think you're right. Right now, survival jobs are key to almost every decision people are making, and there's no guarantee that making the big move to La-la-land would solve any unproduced/unrepresented issues. Managers and producers will pay attention to a good script regardless of where the writer is.