A friend of mine posted this list of 26 Things You Should Know Before Moving to LA on Facebook recently. I found it to be more or less spot on, and it made me flash back to when I moved here.
I was in San Francisco and considering Toronto, New York and Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure I made the right choice. I love living in Los Angeles, and I consider myself fortunate for my time here. Growing up in the Bay Area, I had an inherent disdain for LA like most raised in NorCal do. But I changed and I think this city changed. With the internet, recommender sites like Yelp, social media and the overall foodie culture, those gross sprawling strip malls became sources of charming hidden treasures in subtle yet defined neighborhoods.
LA is a place where if you want to be alone and have your space you can have it, but if you want to be surrounded by a crush of people, you can find that too. You can be a city dweller and nature boy in the same day, and the weather obviously is impeccable.
I’ve lived several lives, made great friends, worked on some awesome projects and partied my face off (much less now). No way in hell I’d trade any of it.
But if you’re just getting started, do you need to move to LA to work in film, media or entertainment?
But does it help?
Definitely YES! It really, really helps!
It’s simple common sense. Nowadays anyone can create anything anywhere and get it out into the world for people to share and discover. If you make something engaging that catches an audience’s attention, then you’re good to go. Your talent and passion carry you. However, where living in LA can be huge, is the type of work and opportunities you’re looking for.
Clearly if you’re an actor, going to LA or New York is a smart idea. That’s where the majority of the work is, where you can test your chops against the best. If you enjoy performing as a hobby, then you have more options because you’re not trying to make it a full-time career. You may live wherever fits your constitution.
If you want to work on the production or development side of film or television, the majority of the jobs are in those two cities as well with LA having the majority. You can definitely live elsewhere if your city has a film industry and culture. There may not be as many productions taking place year in and year out, but maybe there’s less competition for those jobs so you can stake your claim and build your reputation more readily. On top of that, it’s likely your city has a lower cost of living, so that might be a more appealing road to navigate.
If you’re a YouTuber, you can literally stay in your own bedroom and engage with your audience from your laptop. If you gain a large enough following and can make a living doing it, you’re winning. Like seriously winning. At that point though, what comes next? Do you want to work on bigger projects or with bigger brands? If so, it might be helpful to be closer to where that action is. Proximity can make all the difference in the world. You can build your network faster and more meaningfully, you can take meetings in person, you can get a better feel for people and situations in real life than over email, Facetime or phone calls.
These are generalizations of course. I know exceptions to all of the above, so anything’s possible, especially if you’re higher up the food chain. At that point, you have more leverage and can likely spend time wherever you want.