Where Should I Spend My Money?

Carlos writes in:

I have been working at an office for a little over a year now. In that time, I have managed to save approximately $5,000. I have since quit my boring office-job and am planning to make the move to L.A. to become a production assistant. If I were to move now, I would more or less likely use a good chunk (if not all) of my money for rent / living as I look for employment during the initial months.

Originally, when I first started working, my goal was to save enough money to make my dream short film (which is ultimately still my goal as a filmmaker). So my question is this: should I not be afraid to “waste” my money on living – or should I try to save it? IDEALLY, I’d would move to L.A and have (or find) a job right away – that way I could still save my money and put it towards my short film.

My fear is that I’ll spend all my money in a few months and never be able to recuperate the same amount (or at least not as quickly) – considering the wages I might earn initially, unexpected expenditures, or just plain unemployment. The other option I see is to use the money now for my project and postpone the move to a later point in time with little or no money – and figure it out as I go. I would greatly appreciate your help!


You have officially reached the decision that most everyone has had to make out here. The decision between following your passion or playing it safe.

On one hand playing it safe and staying in a 9-5 job with consistent pay is amazing in itself. Sometimes after a 14 hour day those 8 hours seem like heaven.

On the other hand, you have your dream. The dream to make a film short is a great goal and most of us out here have goals similar. You won’t be able to make your short directly when you get out to LA. It takes years to build up contacts and the money that it will take to create such a thing.

Even with your $5,000 it will still be a really tough living situation for you out here. It’s rough out here for people who want to work in the entertainment industry.

(Dramatic music plays in the background)

If you come out here, you have to do so with a massive amount of determination. Once you move you CANNOT give up. You CANNOT be lazy. You HAVE to be an aggressive person. Do whatever it takes. Get as many production assistant gigs as you can and work as an Uber driver or at a movie theater in your off time to keep building up your money. Take weird jobs if it means getting money. Eventually, if you work your ass off, you will be able to make your dream happen.

It will be a really difficult life for you but in the end doesn’t making your dream come true make it worth it?


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3 Responses

  1. Though it took me a while to get back to making my own films after moving to L.A., I’ve found it much more rewarding than if I would have stayed in my hometown making them with my friends. Once you’ve spent some time out here building a filmmaking network, you get access to great actors, quality equipment, and knowledgeable crew, things that are in short supply in most other cities. I think if you’re going to have to move to L.A. anyway, as soon as possible is best so that you can get the hard part done earlier. I wish I would have come out a year or two sooner but am glad to be here now. This is just what my experience has been, but everybody goes through the process differently.

  2. Only move out to LA if you want it BAD. Otherwise you won’t be able to hustle enough to get ahead. But I moved out with $5,000 and a good running car, and I got my career going, have never looked back, spent a lot of time PAing, and then better jobs, and now two and a half years later, just finished my first short film. So you can have both, just not right now. You will save up the money again, just not right away. And besides, you’re going to need a LOT of favors to make your short, and the amount of film school graduates with talent and skills who will donate their time is astonishing in a place like Los Angeles. Get out here, meet some people, work hard, keep working on yours scripts (that costs nothing), and make your movie when the time is right.

  3. TAPA previously said she would hand off the writing duties to someone else and “no one would be the wiser.” Not so. I say this post is an example of the new guy/gal, and lacks TAPA’s usual insights. To quote Gertrude Stein (why not?), “There is no there there.”

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