If you want to write movies professionally you ponder the move to Los Angeles at some point. This article is not about why or when you should move to L.A., but rather, what to expect when you get here.
Where to move
Don’t move to Hollywood. Seriously. It’s an easy mistake. You figure, that’s where they make movies. Truth is, the big studios are mostly in Burbank and Culver City. Hollywood is a busy, dirty, and rarely necessary place to be. When I worked production I spent a lot of time there: prop houses, truck rental, production rentals. But unless you want to be close the Roxy, Whiskey A Go Go, or anything else on the Sunset Strip, I don’t recommend Hollywood.
West Hollywood and North Hollywood are not Hollywood. Both are nicer and very acceptable places to live. North Hollywood is in the San Fernando Valley. The Valley is full of good places and cheaper. Sherman Oaks, Valley Village, Studio City, Burbank, Van Nuys (depending). The only real complaint people have with living in the Valley is that it’s hot in the summer. And it is. But it’s hot everywhere unless you live by the beach.
Speaking of the beach. Here are some more great places to live: Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey. It’s more expensive there, so hardly the place for a struggling writer, but it’s also very nice and much cooler.
Don’t move downtown. It’s just a bunch of financial buildings and sports complexes.
Most people I know did not move to L.A. with a place to live. They slept on a friend’s couch or floor until they moved into their own place. That is normal.
Everyone in L.A. is from somewhere else. That’s not true. But it seems like it is. Everyday people flood into Los Angeles. Some from other parts of the country. Some from Mexico. When someone asks where you’re from, they mean where are you originally from?
Oh, and of course, they’re all writers. Everyone is “X” and a writer.
Side note. I don’t know why but it seems like everyone buys their liquor from the grocery store at 6pm. What’s up with that?
Bankers’ hours are for the weak. If you work in the entertainment industry you better come to play. A 12-hour day is common. My first month in L.A. I once worked a 12-hour workday – for free – then drove two hours to another set and worked another 12 hours.
No matter what you do, be on time.
If you’re early you’re on time. If you’re on time you’re late. If you’re late you’re fired.
It’s worse than you think. There’s no such thing as rush-hour here. There. Is. Always. Traffic. If you Google Map a destination, double or triple the drive time, just to be safe. And I don’t know why, but it seems like L.A. has imported the worst drivers from across America as some sort of sick experiment.
Turn signals? Not in L.A.
And God help you if it rains. Everyone shits their pants like they’ve never seen the stuff.
Instead of writing all kinds of fun facts and statistics about just how horrible the smog is here, I included a picture that sums it up. I took this picture from Runyon Canyon (a popular park and hiking trail).
You really can’t beat the weather in southern California. It’s sunny nearly every day. They get less than 15 inches of rainfall annually. Most of it is in the winter. Before I moved here a friend of mine warned me about the four seasons of California: wildfire, mudslide, earthquake, and summer.
Food and drink
Every other block you can find a Subway and a Starbucks. So if you want to be that douche who writes his movie at Starbucks feel free. You won’t be alone.
When I first arrived in L.A. everyone made their own list of places I had to eat. Sadly, this was the list: In & Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., Jack in the Box, Baja Fresh. You get the idea. Don’t fall for it. Fast food is fast food. There are many excellent restaurants in L.A. The Mexican, Indian, Chinese, and Thia restaurants are plentiful and delicious. Plenty of good seafood too. Sadly, not so many good Italian places. And I still can’t find a proper cheesesteak out here.
There are so many fun and interesting spots to visit in Los Angeles, like the place where O.J. Simpson killed his wife, or, the place where Phil Spector killed his wife, or, the place where Robert Blake killed his wife.
You know what? Fuck it. This town is sick.