Irony. We’ve saved our pennies working our degrading jobs, packed our lives into our cars and set out on a great adventure to Los Angeles to pursue that dream of working in entertainment. We unload all of our belongings into a friend’s cheap apartment and crash on a couch until we get our feet set and move into a dive of our own. We get a quick lay of the land before applying for as many of those same degrading jobs as we can. We are creatures of habit.
Obviously, few to none of us start out towards the top of the heap. Rent is due and you have to eat- you gotta do what you gotta do. But how quickly we forget why we came out here. How quickly this town can eat you up if you let it. It’s a slow grind of frustration; a poison. Luckily, the antidote is simple: do what you came out here to do.
Don’t just settle for an audition here and there or the hollow promise of a role in Joe’s girlfriend’s sister’s short – you can flex those acting guns yourself. Meet with likeminded actors/filmmakers. Read through plays and movies with a scene partner. Even if it’s only once a week, you still get to stay sharp and you have an acting regiment. I know it sounds simple, but it takes discipline to stay on task. This persistence will reward you with something and I promise you cannot walk away without having learned something, having created a new character, or at the least having sewn seeds for some sort of co op or company. Better yet, it begins to drill into your system the importance of making it happen yourself.
I was fortunate enough to have been a part of a special group of artists from Ohio whom all moved out here within a year or two of each other. We’ve all kept in touch and many of us actually live together, which is a brilliant and easy way to capture spontaneity and inspire new ideas. We shoot sketch comedy, sci fi, action, drama, fan films; whatever, and while features are our first love staying fresh is an invaluable exercise which keeps us on our toes, builds resumes, and creates buzz.
Get a group and work on ways to put yourselves out there. Name your organization and register a domain name. Network Solutions is $150 for a year and that includes an easy, do-it-yourself web design package* (no html knowledge required!). Create a youtube page and post your vids on the site- that’s what it’s for! Free press- are you kidding me? Even if you think your stuff is terrible, you’d be surprised how many awful videos collect hits and can be optioned into a webseries with actual budget. Besides, if you’re going to make rookie mistakes you might as well make them on a low-stakes level and learn what not to do before you get called up to play with the big boys.
Craigslist, friend of friend, film school students, Mandy.com- anyone you can think of involved with film or wanting to be involved with film could potentially help you to spark that fire. If no one is biting, buy a cheap camera yourself. If you have money for that, audition into a theatre company or sign up for acting lessons. The possibilities are limitless, but you need to take that first step yourself. If you put yourself out there, I guarantee it cannot hurt.
Bottom line: don’t wait on LA (or wherever you happen to live). Do what you came out here to do. You don’t need millions of dollars, you just need the drive and the willingness to maximize the resources you have access to.
*Shameless plug/example of what I did with absolutely no knowledge of web design: NoahApplebaum.net