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Should I Stay in Los Angeles?

Ken writes:

I just graduated from film school and moved to LA like various people advised me to do. Now, I’m here and looking for nearly any PA job I can find (yay having little to no experience…) and what I keep hearing is how people don’t really film features in LA much anymore. I just signed an apartment lease so I’m going to be here for at least a year, and, while I am going to try my best to get as much experience as I can while I’m here, it seems like I might have a better shot at working on features by moving to Atlanta, Louisiana, NC, TX, etc. once my lease is up.

So, basically, should I stay in LA or move elsewhere in an attempt to get feature experience?

First of all, you shouldn’t limit yourself to working on just features or just TV or just commercials. At this stage in your life, you should be open to any professional experience. Each of those categories have their own pluses and minuses (TV is steadier work, features offer more travel), and each has their own sub-categories (sitcoms vs. hour-long dramas vs. soap operas, etc).

Wherever you are, get as many varied experiences as you can. Even if you find something you like, don’t feel obligated to stick to it; you might end up working in that area for the rest of your life.

As for whether you should move later, I don’t think chasing production is the best way to go. You never know what tax credits are going to pop up or disappear. You might move to New Orleans just as the studios decide NOLA isn’t cost-effective anymore.

If you’re in a situation where you’re not finding work here in Los Angeles, and you can’t afford to stay here, you might as well pick one of those other production hubs. But packing up and starting over in a new town just because you think there might be work there seems like a bit of a gamble.

And if you want to move above the line, moving away from Los Angeles is an even worse idea. Most TV series and movies are written here, even the ones shot on the other side of the country. Directors and key department heads are also often flown in from Los Angeles.

To get those gigs, you need to be networking here, where the studio executives are. It’ll be a lot more difficult to make those connections from New Orleans.

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4 Responses

  1. I live in New Orleans. They could you you more than likely. I have a room to rent. I need the cash. You can break a lease if the move pertains to change of a job.
    Good luck.

  2. I second prosec post. They just approved a huge credit here that kicks in in one year, most productions will always choose LA first but incentives pull them away, this tax credit helps a lot. I’ve worked in Louisiana and the summers are terrible, if the poster can stick it out here and as the tapa says you definitely want to stay here if you wanna move up. ALL of the above the line people live in LA and are flown to location they don’t hire above the line people in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan ir wherever the incentive is.

  3. Not to mention they just expanded the tax credit immensely! Production is coming back don’t you worry. Making movies in incentive states is exhausting: the weather is unpredicatble, the infrastructure limited, and the crews, unless they have worked in LA or NYC before, are inexperienced. There’s a reason movies have been made in SoCal for 100 years.

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