Nowadays, if you are a film student or just starting out in the industry, you’ve probably heard at least once that you should move to Los Angeles. The question remains, what are the upsides and downsides to relocating? We’ve listed three pros and one con below to help answer that question.
Pro #1: “There’s no better learning environment.”
According to an article on The Film Circuit, “there may be no better place to learn about filmmaking.” While some of the lessons you can learn on set are not helpful, you have many opportunities to watch and learn from experienced professionals who love what they do.
Pro #2: “Everywhere you go there is someone talking movies or the industry.”
One of the great aspects about going to a film school is that everyone there has a passion for the same medium. Los Angeles is a larger version of that. According to George Sloan, “You’ll eventually want an agent, a manager, or a lawyer, all of whom will be based in LA.” There is always someone who is looking for a new project to work on, or willing to offer advice.
Pro #3: “Other cities have great qualities that completely kill Los Angeles, but Los Angeles is larger, has far more cinema history, soaked into its bones, and a really well-developed infrastructure. It can’t be beat.”
Like it or not, Los Angeles was where the studio system reached its peak, and, because of that, the city if filled with film history. There’s also no better way to know what is going to be the next project than to be in the city. You gain insights that you wouldn’t if you were in another state or city. Brian O’Malley says, “You can’t learn the rhythms of a film town until you submerge yourself in that film town.”
Con: “What many newbies can’t possibly know is that paid industry work is pretty hard to secure. New Hollywood faces are typically competing against old guard veterans for jobs.”
One of the main things all film students are told is that networking is key. While this is true, networking does not mean that you are any less “green” when you move to Los Angeles. Another article on The Film Circuit states that, “The only advantage a new face has, is that she or he is willing to work for less. It’s a tough town, and contacts can only get you so far.” You still need to gain experience, and, until you do, you will most likely be placed in positions that are well below your skill level.
In the end, regardless of all the hard work that is involved, LA still seems like the best place to go for a filmmaker who is just starting out. You might not get the job of your dreams right away, or at all, but the experience you gain is invaluable. George Sloan also says, “Moving to Los Angeles isn’t permanent. Nothing in life is. You’ll get where you want as long as you work hard, stay open-minded and remain passionate, even in the face of seemingly impossible odds.”