It’s probably the #1 screenwriting question I get – aside from why do people STILL give M. Night Shyamalan movie to make movies…
Do I have to live in Los Angeles to make it as a screenwriter?
And so, in this video, I tackle this most controversial and debated topic. (I also offer 4 strategies that screenwriters who CAN’T move to Southern California can use to break into the film biz.)
WHAT do you think? Do you think screenwriters need to live in L.A.? Let us know in the comments below!
Transcript of Video Below:
Screenwriting Biz Q&A: Do You Have to Live in L.A. to Make It as a Screenwriter
Hey there screenwriters. It’s Michael from ScriptBully. And in today’s short video I want to answer a question I got from a member of the SCriptBully tribe which was…from Jake in Bozeman, MT
Do you have to live in L.A. to make it as a screenwriter in the film biz?
Yes, Jake. In fact, not only that, but you have to live in North HOllywood. Somewhere between Magnolia and Cahuenga.
and you MUST shop at Whole Foods and walk around with a hipster passenger bag…and wear ironic t-shirts of bad movies and write your scripts at the Republic of Pie.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist.
the real answer is NO. You don’t have to live in L.A.
If you want to work in TV or be a director or a producer…then hell yeah. Get your ass on the next Amtrak and find yourself a 200 square foot apartment for $1800 a month.
But…if you just want to write scripts. Then it’s totally POSSIBLE to break in from outside the 310 or 213 area codes.
As long as you’re able to accomplish 4 things:
#1 Talk to humans on the telephone in a non-sociopathic way.
I know the last thing you want to do is pick up your phone and talk to a human being. (You’d rather text, right?) But if you want to save yourself the u-haul expenses and years spent in L.A. traffic…you’re going to have to follow up on all these email queries to producers and agents with actual phone calls to see if they’re looking for material.
and, I find, it helps when communicating with development folks if you don’t sound like a robot.
#2 thing you gotta be able to do: Get SOME kind of experience on a film set.
Notice I didn’t say you have to work with Christopher Nolan on Inception IV. You just need need to spend SOME time on a set.
Can be on a student film at your local junior college or as part of a propaganda series put on by your underground militia…it’s vital you get the FEEL of actually working with film.
Now before you freak out and say..but I live in the remotest part of Greenland in a village of 14 people with no traffic light and only 2 hours of sunlight a day…and not a single person who’s making a film.
…then let me say. Perhaps YOU need to create the filmset….maybe it’s YOUR job to write something awesome and film it in your hometown. (With the cost of cameras and editing software, this is easier than ever.)
In fact, the smaller your town, the more likely you are to get some local press which can help bang your promotional drum. (And help make you YouTube famous in no time.)
But the most important reason to get some film set experience is your screenwriting ability will quadruple the moment you work on a set where actors say words you wrote. Trust me: it’s like getting a year of film school experience in 7 days.
#3 You Gotta do to break in if you plan NOT to move to LA….Visit a major film festival at least once a year.
This not only will give you a supreme amount of confidence – you have no idea how much bad filmmaking is out there until you attend a film festival – but it’s the perfect place to meet those interns and production assistants who’ll become tomorrow’s agents and directors.
And just hanging out with fellow creatives, who have the same ambitions you do, is worth its weight in networking gold.
And finally #4 thing you gotta do is… Take a trip to L.A. . at least once a year.
Don’t go for weather. Instead schedule the following into your itinerary:
a) A screening and/or panel at the Writer’s Guild (visit wga.org to get info on the latest)
b) A visit to the Academy of MOtion Picture arts and sciences library (this is like browsing through HOllywood history)
c) A shopping expedition at Larry Edmund’s Bookstore on Hollywood blvd. (the best screenwriting bookstore in the world)
d) A TV show taping (if you can)
and…e) if you do have a script finished, let producers and managers know you’ll be in town taking meetings. (who knows….you just might end up with a new career – in addition to all your new postcards.)
Now…for a totally shameless plug, I’ve actually written an entire book called “Selling a Screenplay in the 21st Century” which goes over, with a little more detail, how to manage this whole “get noticed from out of town” strategy.
So If you have enjoyed this video…if you have gotten at least 1.3% of value from it…would you do me a favor: would you thumbs up, facebook like retweet, repintrest this video. (Of course…don’t forget to subscribe to find out when we release new videos.)
And…if you’d like instant access to my brand new FREE report – Top 10 Dirt-Cheap Must-Have Tools Every Screenwriter Should Have (But Probably Doesn’t)…just click on the link below this video to grab YOUR copy.
And as always…be bold, write often… and kick writer’s block in the ass.