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February 23, 2012 9:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving sometime soon to pursue a screenwriting career. By default, I'd be relocating to Los Angeles, but would it be a bad decision to relocate elsewhere?

Not to sound dramatic, but I'm faced with one of those moments/decisions in life where you can go one way or the other. And I want to make sure I don't make the wrong decision.

I'm moving, that's an absolute certainty. I'm very hesitant to relocate to Los Angeles, despite that being where I need to be in order to give myself the best shot at this screenwriting thing. I do have my writing well taken care of, so for those who had it on their mind, I'm not one of those people who would come out there with a script hoping to make it big right away!

Allow me to provide you with some background.

I was strongly advised here not to do it as I wouldn't be bringing a car, much less know how to drive. There is a chance I might learn down the road, but I would be extremely against getting my license here and then adding the expense of a car there.

The other big reason is I'd be taking a big gamble moving to an area that doesn't particularly suit me at first look.

I'm a single, 22-year old male who hasn't lived on his own before. But allow me to be clear, yes I would be moving without a job, but I am not scared at all about taking this big step into the unknown. So it's not that.

My main concern about this is that I want to enjoy this new life I'm going to embark on. I don't want to be miserable in Los Angeles. I would like to meet people, and by people I do mean non-industry people. Make friends. Have fun, enjoy the city, start a life for myself, etc.

Is this going to be possible in L.A. without a car? Or am I going to be miserable while waiting for traction on my scripts and wish I had moved somewhere I would be enjoying?

I realize it might be harder to network and sell a script not actually being in Hollywood, but would it worth it? I would still be pursuing that if I did live elsewhere.

I suppose I don't really have a plan job-wise if that fails. Which should be a concern of mine regardless of where I move to. I am starting work in a bakery for the first time next month, which is a strong desire of mine.

As it stands now, I have almost 9 grand saved up. I wouldn't move with less than 10, but I might save up to 15 or more.

I do have all the aspects of such a move planned out, so now it comes down to do I move to L.A. (or not) and then how much money am I comfortable leaving with. I'd be living pretty minimally, obviously.

FYI: I live in a suburb of a big Florida city now, where there is almost everything I need within a 4-mile radius. Feel free to suggest city suggestions if you'd like, I prefer colder climates. At the top of my list now are places like Philadelphia and Minneapolis, but there are a few other ones I am thinking about. I don't mind places like Seattle, either. So my options are open.

So should I just suck it up and get out to Los Angeles, or are my concerns valid? Thanks!
posted by signondiego to Travel & Transportation (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I worked in the Uptown Borders in Minneapolis for a few years. The Coen brothers came in on occasion. We also got Bobby McFerin, one of the guys from Semi-conic, several MN Vikings players, a lot of authors (go figure!) and tons of other celebrities. Minneapolis isn't LA.

My point? Move where you like. The difficulty with writing screenplays isn't going to be geography, but rather keeping your ass in the chair.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:09 PM on February 23, 2012


Chicago and New York are both excellent theater cities where one doesn't need a car.
posted by brujita at 9:19 PM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Screenwriter/director John August has a great website and he's covered this question before, and the pros and cons. You need to go to the site and read all the posts, but here's the gist: " I know a hundred screenwriters, and can only think of two who managed to start a feature writing career while living outside Los Angeles or New York."
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:25 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Born & raised in LA Mefite here.

LA is a wonderful city that you would probably enjoy.

There are many, Many, MANY people here trying to sell scripts. But it is the place to sell scripts to film and television people. Not being in LA makes it orders of magnitude harder to get your stuff and find representation.

That said, the most realistic plan is to come to LA with a plan to work, while trying learn and become a part of the screenwriting community and market. 10-15 thousand is a lot of money, but you will likely run out well before understanding the writing world enough to sell.

You can live in LA without a car, but it is harder. Our public transport covers almost everywhere, but it can take a long time. If you are a cyclist, it will make life easier.

There are plenty of people to meet of all types of interests and more things going on to do than almost any other city. You won't have trouble meeting people if you are even the tiniest bit extroverted.

In summary, Yes!, move to LA to get your screenwriting career started, but plan to get a job and be prepared for long commutes in public transport.
posted by Argyle at 9:33 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would highly, highly, highly recommend moving to LA.

You're not going to sell a script based on the quality of the script -- you're going to sell a script based first on the referral of the script into the hands of someone who is in a position to buy the script, followed by the quality of the script. You can only get that referral via connections you make in Los Angeles.

Move to LA, get a job in the industry (many people do PA work, which isn't that hard to get but can often put one in the not-very-helpful doldrums of reality TV; more helpful for feature connections will be working in the mailroom of a talent agency, but those jobs are harder to get), continue writing writing WRITING. (Writing every day. For hours.)

Whether you need to buy a car is up to you. I'd say yes, but some can get by without one. (What job you're working is the main deciding factor in this regard.)
posted by lewedswiver at 9:46 PM on February 23, 2012


Don't start the car question again. Go back to your previous thread and read the thirty thoughtful answers you received from people who actually live here, read your (somewhat defensive) responses, read their counter-answers, then ask yourself why you are unwilling to acknowledge what everyone already told you.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:50 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was not starting the car question, and I was certainly hoping that wasn't going to become the debate here. The question was if I'd be making a mistake moving to Los Angeles, or not. Thanks.
posted by signondiego at 9:53 PM on February 23, 2012


Since you already know the answer to the car question, I'm going to skip to the other question I think you're asking: Yes, it's possible to be happy in Los Angeles even if you're not a successful screenwriter. I live and work in Los Angeles and I'm not a screenwriter or anything related to the industry, and I love LA. It's one of the most awesome places in the world. There are a few places I'd rather live, but not many and not in the United States.

And yes, it is many orders of magnitude more difficult and less likely that you'll have any success whatsoever as a screenwriter anywhere other than Los Angeles. If it's what you want to do, this is where you need to be.
posted by The World Famous at 9:57 PM on February 23, 2012


Do you want to be a screenwriter? I mean, is that your end game goal? Because if it is, you are competing against thousands of other people who want to do the same thing, so you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the right people to read your stuff at the right time. If you don't move to LA, the chances of you getting a career out of this is significantly smaller.

I can appreciate not wanting a car, and all I can say about that is at some point you will have to make a choice about what is more important to you, your career or your life outside of your career. Not having a car in LA may be possible, but if you are trying to meet people every day all around the city to get them to read your script, and they only have a short amount of time, you may not find it possible to put your career first if you are dealing with transportation issues.

Not to say that it would be a bad thing to not put your career first, but you are going into a field where competition is ruthless, and there are other people just as talented as you who are willing to do almost anything to get ahead. If you aren't willing to sacrifice on the same level, than you might want to resign yourself to the fact that you will be at a disadvantage.

I know several people who moved to LA to pursue music and/or film. All of them were amazingly talented, just as much as many of the famous people you see, and all of them ended up moving to another city because they couldn't get a lucky break.

As for the city itself, there is a ton going on all of the time, and pretty much anything you want is available. If you like the hustle and bustle of a city life, LA is a great place to be.
posted by markblasco at 10:25 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You'd be making a mistake if you did not move to Los Angeles.

You'd also be making a mistake if you didn't get a job in the industry once you got here, preferably as an assistant, at an agency or a production company. Most likely you'd need to intern for free somewhere to get the experience you need to get the assistant job.

Side note: working screenwriters simply must drive. It's a necessity of the job. 40% of the gig is butt in the chair writing, 60% is meetings and lunches and networking and friendships and who you know and what you know and where you've been, and having a car is crucial for all of that -- *especially* the meetings. You can wait until you get some heat before you get a car, but getting that heat without a car will be difficult unless you already have deep networking connections. It's called the water bottle tour for a reason. Don't forget to validate. Seriously, there's a webcomic called Don't Forget to Validate Your Parking about being a writer/producer in Hollywood. It's called that for a reason.

There are many different paths towards a successful writing career, but every other path is unreliable. If you are a strong writer and if you are dedicated, then if you get a job as an assistant, you *will* find a way towards some measure of success. You can be a strong, dedicated writer in Seattle, or working in a Los Angeles grocery store, or an assistant at a production company in New York and never get discovered.
posted by incessant at 10:31 PM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


^^The last paragraph up above should read 'towards a successful *screenwriting* career ..." and "If you are a strong *screenwriter*" and so on and so forth. I was not implying that's the only way to be a successful writer, no matter what the medium!
posted by incessant at 10:34 PM on February 23, 2012


I think I was a bit like you when I was your age. I lived with my parents until I was 20, and only gotten license when my mom said she wasn't going to drive me around anymore.

My brother moved across the country to be with his kids. He asked if I wanted to go. I was scared to move! And so far away. But I did it. It sometimes sucked, but I learned a lot. Like how where I grew up wasn't the best place in the world like I thought it was.

You are getting to a point where if you don't just pull the trigger and do something (even if it is saying you are moving December 1st), you may just sink more and more into your comfortable life. Then all of a sudden you are 42 wistfully dreaming of how you wanted to make it as a screen writer.

I am 32 doing things now that my 20 year old self would've never comtiplated. It is simply amazing what you can learn about yourself when you just go for it and figure out some of it when you get there. You can keep building your roadmap to success, but unless you actually do it, it will just be a vague plan on paper.

Come to LA. What are you waiting for?
posted by Monday at 12:08 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't tell you whether moving to Los Angeles is a mistake. I can tell you that you're probably deluding yourself if you think you can become a screenwriter and not start out in L.A. (or New York).
posted by Justinian at 12:45 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The question was if I'd be making a mistake moving to Los Angeles, or not.

Yes, it is probably a mistake to move to LA without a job, without a car, without a plan, and just the idea in your mind that you want to be a screenwriter. I would be willing to hedge on that statement a bit if you had friends or family who were going to help you get on your feet when you first arrive, but I don't see that in your question. This is not to say that moving to some other city would be better for you if you want to be a screenwriter, just that outside of the savings you've built up, your plan doesn't sound well thought out at all.
posted by deanc at 1:10 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was strongly advised here not to do it as I wouldn't be bringing a car, much less know how to drive.

So you are asking the same question again, and hoping to hear different advice? I remember this question, and people explicitly responded that you would
1) be making a mistake to move to LA without a car or knowing how to drive and
2) were going to be miserable with the process of selling the scripts and generally living because you didn't own a car.
Which, are the same questions you ask today (Is it a mistake, will I be miserable).

I understand your position (but not your reasons), and I understand your frustration with the replies, but your precise questions were answered well in the previous question. You might want the car not to be a central part of the responses, but the reality is that it is a key problem.

You might get better answers with "Where can I move to break into screenwriting, that isn't Los Angeles?" and otherwise leave it as open as possible and do your own research later on the affordability and public transit options in those places.
posted by whatzit at 3:16 AM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not frustrated with the replies at all, and I'm not hesitant or scared at all about doing this. Nor do I not have a plan. But OK.

Yes, I wasn't asking the car question here, but I do see why it is being brought up. But I wasn't asking that at all, really.
posted by signondiego at 5:54 AM on February 24, 2012


Not to get personal or anything, and apologies in advance for being Debbie Downer and probably not too organizes, but the first question you asked was It's not a quarter-life crisis, I'm almost broken. How can I turn things around before it's too late? And then a couple of posts about moving to LA, going to NY, working in a bakery.

May I gently suggest that going to LA and struggling to become a screenwriter is a not a good way to address psychological and existential crises, especially ones where issues of confidence and emotional maturity seem to be involved?

Furthermore, it is absolutely true that you're going to sell a script based first on the referral of the script into the hands of someone who is in a position to buy the script, followed by the quality of the script but at the same time, you still do need to be a good writer, good story teller. That's something thats actually harder skill to develop in LA because when you write scripts you have to write to a very specific market and audience, and in a very specific format and style. That is often not very conducive to the development of an original and unique voice and vision which - and I know this contradicts what I just said about writing for other people's approval - that everyone in the industry wants to find.

You say, I do have my writing well taken care of, so for those who had it on their mind, I'm not one of those people who would come out there with a script hoping to make it big right away! but is there some objective evidence of this? Have you done any kind of professional writing? Has anyone paid money for something you've written? Do you have scripts that you've written and had reviewed and discussed by others who are familiar with the industry? You may think you are a good writer. But that is different from being able to write things that someone will buy. And you can learn to be a good writer anywhere, writing anything. Even in Florida. Think of it as farm team for the big leagues. Writing doesn't have a lot of apprenticeship opportunities, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to learn.

On a practical note: of course you need to learn how to drive a car. You can survive without one, probably, but it will consume so much of your time and energy that its not worth it. I'm not even sure what you're visualizing in real terms - you fly into LAX and get a cab to... where? And it'll be easier to learn in Florida than LA. Also $9,000 is not a lot of money. And the Hollywood streets are a lot less paved with gold than they used to be. (Where did I just read an article or op/ed about how hard things are in Hollywood these days; the author's neighbor had just had her house foreclosed and everyone is living on what they made in the 90s but not willing to admit it. Basically: the era of the big spec script sale is over.)

In summary, my advice - admittedly cranky early morning caffeine hasn't kicked in advice but based in part on my own personal and painful experiences in life - is: stay in Florida. Write. Make your writing public on a blog or whatever. Try to get people to pay money for what you write. The local paper or something. Or at least published in something that is edited or curated in some way, so that there is someone else making decisions about what is good. Keep working in the bakery. Write some screenplays. Start sending them out. Post them on websites where they get comments. Take writing classes. Watch everything you submit get rejected. Learn to drive a car. Write more. Start on your 10,000 hours. Try to make some contacts in the industry by email or whatever. Write more. Keep working in the bakery. Then when some real person with a real industry job says, hey, this is pretty good, what else do you have? Take a couple of weeks off from the bakery job and fly to LA, rent a car (yes, rent a car), go see that person and anyone else you might have gotten to know, get a feeling for what its like and then go back to Florida, think about it and then decide if its for you.

Mods - feel free to delete if this is too harsh or rambling.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:16 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't see it as harsh, more so using my first question on MeFi against me (and believe me, I have moved on from that) and using that to provide a baseline. And while your advice might be well-intentioned, that's just not something I can do. Staying here would lead me absolutely nowhere, and I'm not talking about in regards to a screenwriting career.

I did get some good advice here, and I will take it. The biggest issue here seems to be the car, which was not even related to my question. It wasn't even in my question last time. But it is brought up because if I want to succeed in doing this, then I definitely need a car.

But ... one more time, and not that I'm not taking this certain advice, but I will not be having a car at all.

And if you think I'm not in the right state of mind to move, or I'm not ready to move, then that's your opinion. I know that 4 years ago I wasn't ready to move, but there's no reason I'm not now. I know me.

I guess this serves me right to not ask any more Los Angeles-related questions, because the car issue will just come up again and again. Had I not been into the screenwriting thing and just wanted to move somewhere, I suppose this would be a different conversation. Or if I did ultimately did decide to move elsewhere and wanted advice on said city, then I'm sure it would be a different situation and I'd be getting good advice here.

Not to sound rude or defensive, but I'm really not driving at all. And I know the only reason people keep bringing it up is because they want to help me, and know that the best way to try a screenwriting career in L.A. is with a car. I know that. But from the get-go I was dead-set on no car, regardless how hard it might be.

Thanks to those who helped.
posted by signondiego at 7:53 AM on February 24, 2012


I guess this serves me right to not ask any more Los Angeles-related questions, because the car issue will just come up again and again.

There's a reason for that. You should listen.

I have a friend who lived in LA without a car. It's actually not so bad if you have a steady job that you go to in the morning and return from in the evening. It's less appropriate for supporting yourself with a hodge-podge of part time jobs that involve running errands and trying to build a career where you will have to have multiple meetings with people while maintaining an active social life.

If someone asked how best to find and interview for a professional job, one would answer, "well, what you need is to wear a suit and tie." If the reply was, "I'm 100% not going to buy a suit or learn how to tie a tie, full stop," it would seem a bit pointlessly obtuse.

You have a lot of the markers associated with someone has not quite made the transition from adolescence to adulthood-- you talk about never having lived on your own before, not knowing how to drive (and a stubborn refusal to learn when the need was pointed out), talk about how you want to be "a writer" but without much stated connection to the field, etc. People in MeFi give a lot of advice about how someone should teach english abroad or travel or something, and that isn't always helpful. But I think it might do you some good to teach English in Asia, get a job working in a youth hostel, etc. Something that would help you grow up, meet more people, and give you some more experience when it comes to moving to a new city. I'd say your biggest risk is that you move to LA, burn through your money, and then have nothing to show for it, forcing you to move back to Florida.
posted by deanc at 8:17 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just do it. You can always move again. I know people in L.A. who have given up their cars and now mainly bike. It's long and annoying, but it can be done. Just try to live as central to the industry as you can. It's not the best solution, in terms of practicality, time best spent, etc. but it sounds like you have a personal reason for not driving a car that is a non-negotiable for reasons that you would like to keep private. That's fine. All you can do is try. The only problem is that you will have to compromise in other ways, such as having to live near industry people, instead of many other fun options that exist in L.A.

(but yes, I do think you need to be in L.A.)
posted by Vaike at 8:25 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Its not my main point but I guess I'm curious: Was there some childhood trauma involving a car? Is it a political/environmental thing? How does that work out for you in Florida? Anyway at some point you can decide how much you're into the screenwriting thing versus how much you're not into the car thing.

My main point is that being a writer is hard. It is a skill you need to develop. It's not something that you can just assert without evidence. (And maybe knowing how hard people work towards that skill and the fact that I'm struggling right now with my own much-less-creative writing project is what gets me a little worked up about your approach to this.)

If you were to post a question like this: "I have been working towards my goal of being a screenwriter since I was a kid. I spent most of my teens either reading screenplays or pushing fast forward and pause in order to recreate my own scripts of TV shows and movies I love. I have taken classes on writing and screenwriting and everyone says my work shows real promise. I have entered my work in screenwriting contests and had some success. My favorite screenwriters are xxxxx and xxxxx, but I don't like xxxx or xxxxx. I have been submitting samples of work to agencies and production companies for the last couple of years and haven't had anything accepted but gotten some positive feedback from people in the industry and they encourage me to send more work and stop to see them when I'm in LA. I've also written short stories and essays and while those have also gotten good feedback for my narrative skills what I really want to do is write screenplays like xxxxx and xxxxxx. I have read everything I can get my hands or browser on about the industry and know how readers, agents, production companies look at scripts and have a clear idea of who I'm targeting. I know who wrote which scripts. People say I have a unique voice and approach to characters that reminds them of the first time they read something by Diablo Cody. I figure that while I am struggling to succeed in LA I'll work in a bakery, since I have a whole month of experience doing that. In fact I'm writing about that experience now. The only thing is that I live in Florida and can't drive a car because of xxxxx. Should I move to LA and try to be a screenwriter even though I can't drive?"

If that were your question, then I and I imagine many others here might offer some cautious hints but in general would be applauding enthusiastically and cheering you on and giving you ideas for where to go in LA and how to get around without a car and names of people to talk to.

Sorry if that doesn't seem helpful. Maybe others are right: just do it. If it works out you'll have an amazing story to tell about how many anonymous internet knowitall cynics told you it wasn't possible but you came out and did it anyway and succeeded beyond your wildest dreams. With no snark or irony at all I sincerely hope that's how your story turns out.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2012


Write some screenplays. Start sending them out. Post them on websites where they get comments. Take writing classes. Watch everything you submit get rejected. Learn to drive a car. Write more. Start on your 10,000 hours. Try to make some contacts in the industry by email or whatever. Write more. Keep working in the bakery.

Definitely do this. People who actually end up making careers as writers in entertainment work really, really, really hard on it - often for ten or so years before anything comes of it.

I do think a creative community is crucial - you'll want to write for some aspiring directors and learn the craft in general. I know a few people who started their careers in other cities (NYC and Austin come to mind) and then eventually moved to Los Angeles because that's where screenwriting jobs actually are. There is an element of networking that is very important.

Have you visited LA? (it seems like you might be viewing the city is a quite stereotypical and not realistic way - it's a great city.) Visiting is a good way to start. Try to meet with people and explore the city and go from there.

If you need something more tangible to bring you to LA, maybe start applying to the studio writing programs like this one:

http://writersworkshop.warnerbros.com/web/index.jsp

They are competitive. It may take several years of trying to get anywhere. (and yes, you need a car).
posted by rainydayfilms at 9:51 AM on February 24, 2012


Yes, you will probably need to live in LA to be a screenwriter.

You will most likely find the most traction by getting a job in the industry.

It will be very difficult to get a job in the industry directly associated with movie production, especially one like a PA, without a car.

It is more expensive to live somewhere with decent public transportation, like Hollywood.

However, do it. Move, try it out. Do it NOW when you're 22, and single, and able to work in a coffee shop, or customer support, or some other job that allows you to give chasing this dream a real shot.
posted by sawdustbear at 9:52 AM on February 24, 2012


What are your actual expectations? You say that you don't have a job plan outside of selling a script. But, you do plan to get other work once you get here, right?

Anecdote time. I am not in the industry, but several acquaintenances are. A group of my friends graduated from a well-known film school's writing program. Not one of them has sold a script, 5 years later. There was a little traction on one, she got an agent and a B-list actor interested, but then it fizzled out. Most of them work odd jobs now and wouldn't be surviving in LA without support from either their parents or a spouse who works a full-time job. These are very talented, intelligent, and funny people. It's just not easy to do.

It's been asked, but never answered. Have you ever been to Los Angeles before? If you kept your eye on airfare, you could take a long weekend for $600 or so. Make sure that the town is actually what you think it is before diving in head first. Sure, it pushes back your date of moving while you re-build your savings by that much, but it's a small cost for a little insurance.

And BTW, you do ask in this question about the car in your eighth paragraph below the jump. You'll be able to decide for yourself if you can make it without a car by visiting first.
posted by hwyengr at 10:40 AM on February 24, 2012


Yeah yeah, I KNOW YOU DON'T WANNA DRIVE A CAR. I have had driving issues myself since I turned 16 and it took me 16 years to get a license. I totally know how that feels. But seriously, you are freaking shooting yourself in both feet and hands to not drive if you live in most locations. Yes, definitely LA (especially if you spend all your time going back and forth rather than to one office all day long), but most places in general. Most places in the world are not set up so that you can reach everything without a car. I live in one of the few, and even then I still run into problems like every time I go to the stupid GP and get told I have to go to the specialist--guess what, over in the next city and no public transport goes over there. Public transport usually isn't that good in most places.

It really, really limits your adult life. Not driving at 16 is the dumbest goddamned thing and biggest mistake I ever made in my life. You need to at least learn how to drive if you want to be an adult. It severely limits your options for places to live and work, and you can't drive someone to the ER if you had to. Even if you never move to LA, even if you don't want to be a regular driver, you need that option in your life. Hell, you may not have to own a car, you could probably rent a Zipcar if you lived in LA if you had to.

My advice to you is that since you don't want to move to LA quite yet, I'd say to learn to drive first and then spend a lot of time practicing before you move. I've had my license for a year, and I went to SoCal for Christmas break this year and realized that my newbie driving skills are probably not up to snuff for spending all day, every day, on the world's most hardcore freeways. So I'm going to spend a lot more time and probably a year or two more practicing my driving with the aforementioned Zipcar before I move. I have to second the "go visit LA and see exactly what you're dealing with" response above as well, because hoo boy, I didn't think that shit out beforehand too well and it had been several years since I'd been to SoCal.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:06 AM on February 24, 2012


Not to sound rude or defensive, but I'm really not driving at all. And I know the only reason people keep bringing it up is because they want to help me, and know that the best way to try a screenwriting career in L.A. is with a car. I know that. But from the get-go I was dead-set on no car, regardless how hard it might be.

Then seriously:

It would be a mistake for you to move to Los Angeles and become a screenwriter.

Move somewhere else and write in another medium or get over the car thing.
posted by incessant at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just remember this: LA can be a great place to live. So can most other places. But to love life, you have to do whatever it takes in order to have the life you want. As soon as you start putting absolute conditions on what you will or won't do, you close yourself off from the possibility of loving any kind of life that requires you to do or not do the thing about which you've put your foot down.

If you want to succeed at anything, you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to have that success. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have a career as a screenwriter? What if that means learning to drive a car? In the highly-likely event that you never have any success as a screenwriter, no matter how good at it you are, are you willing to do whatever it takes to succeed at something else that will make you happy? In the 100% inevitable event that you live in Los Angeles for somewhere between 5 and 10 years before seeing enough money from screenwriting to finance your existence, are you willing to do whatever it takes to survive and live an existence that does not make you miserable?

Will learning to drive and getting a car make you, personally, more miserable than the alternatives in Los Angeles - even if those alternatives include failure to reach your career goal? Only you can answer that question.
posted by The World Famous at 11:15 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are you against a) driving or b) car ownership? And why? It would help people answer your question if you explained where you are coming from.
posted by ArgyleMarionette at 11:43 AM on February 24, 2012


If you want to be a screenwriter and don't want to drive, move to New York!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


You have a lot of the markers associated with someone has not quite made the transition from adolescence to adulthood-- you talk about never having lived on your own before, not knowing how to drive

Most places in the world are not set up so that you can reach everything without a car....It really, really limits your adult life...You need to at least learn how to drive if you want to be an adult. It severely limits your options for places to live and work

I know from experience that California isn't built for pedestrians, but in many many places outside the US young people owning/using cars is the exception and not the norm. I know exactly why people are encouraging the OP to drive, but it's unfair to suggest that by not driving or choosing not to drive, he is somehow placing himself into extended adolescence. I live in a major world city, I don't drive (never learned then medical reasons prevented me from doing so) and it's only an issue when someone I know is moving house. Most of my friends with licenses never drive. It's just not needed and it's expensive - not ideal if you move somewhere without a firm job and the expectation of living hand to mouth.

It surprises me that you can't get to where you need to go in a city as big as LA without using public transport. Even Michael Bluth used a bike!
posted by mippy at 4:50 PM on February 24, 2012


Michael Bluth was just riding around Newport Beach. There aren't any mountains in Newport Beach. Try riding a bike from Studio City to Santa Monica for a meeting about your screenplay. Not impossible, but you better be in good shape and be prepared for a sweaty meeting.
posted by The World Famous at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2012


If you want to be a screenwriter and don't want to drive, move to New York!

You'll still need to drive when you come to Los Angeles, and you will *have* to come to Los Angeles.
posted by incessant at 7:21 PM on February 24, 2012


[i]You have a lot of the markers associated with someone has not quite made the transition from adolescence to adulthood-- you talk about never having lived on your own before, not knowing how to drive (and a stubborn refusal to learn when the need was pointed out), talk about how you want to be "a writer" but without much stated connection to the field, etc. People in MeFi give a lot of advice about how someone should teach english abroad or travel or something, and that isn't always helpful. But I think it might do you some good to teach English in Asia, get a job working in a youth hostel, etc. Something that would help you grow up, meet more people, and give you some more experience when it comes to moving to a new city. I'd say your biggest risk is that you move to LA, burn through your money, and then have nothing to show for it, forcing you to move back to Florida.[/i]

I know I am ready. I almost moved a couple years ago, but ended up not because I knew I wasn't ready. But now I have made that transition.

For my connection to writing, I have been writing for most of my life. I have done journalism for a media outlet previously, and also wrote for a big company's website. I got into the screenwriting craft 5 years ago.

Teaching English abroad is something I did consider awhile back, and trying to get a job working at a hostel is not a bad idea at all. Stayed in those multiple times.
posted by signondiego at 8:38 PM on February 24, 2012


Constructive criticism, exactly what I was looking for. It may sound like I am ignoring the advice I am given, but you should know that isn't the case. I come to ask this question here because I don't have all the answers, and I would like feedback to better make my decision.

For why I do not want to drive, while there is no big personal or traumatic thing going on here, it basically boils down to this: I have been in two car accidents already, although I don't think that would be the deterrent for me not wanting to drive.

I do not want the costs associated with a car, and I just don't like cars in general. I like urban cities, and everything about automobiles I do not like. I will avoid learning how to drive for as long as I possibly can, and I can confidently say right now that if I do move to Los Angeles, I would not be doing it with a car.

Maybe there will come a day down the road where I decide to learn how to drive, but as of now and in the immediate future I am staying put. And there is really nothing that will change my stance on that, even if it will be 100x easier to accomplish my goals. Call it stubborn or me unwilling to understand or realize how important it would be to have a car out there, but my decision on driving is not something that's going to change.

I have not been to Los Angeles, but I don't have this hugely negative opinion of the city either. I have no doubt it's a great city with lots to do, but because it's so spread out I am just making sure I would enjoy it. Versus a denser city.

I will be taking an exploration trip in the summer, whether that be to Los Angeles or somewhere else.

It is ultimately a decision I will have to make, do I value pursuing a screenwriting career in Los Angeles (without a car) over moving to a city more up my alley? And at the same time, do I feel comfortable living in L.A. for the long term even if the writing thing doesn't pan out?

That's something I have to decide for myself. But I am going to just do it one way or the other.

Thanks again. And this does certainly help in processing my decision. Some of you may think I'm frustrated with the answers I've been given, but I am not.
posted by signondiego at 8:57 PM on February 24, 2012


It's kinda troubling how much of this has focused on trying to convince you to learn how to drive and no one has really prodded you on the kind of work you want to do.

So, what would that be? Television? Movies? Sitcoms? Are you looking to do funny, indie stuff? Is the endgame for you like, huge action movies? What about animation?

Some of these paths necessitate living in LA more than others. If you have a single DIY bone in your body writing and shooting your own stuff is a valid path- and one that can be done anywhere and shared everywhere. This is an advantage that previous generations didn't have.

You do sound kinda stubborn, and you're young. I'd say go for it. If you hate it and bust your ass and get nowhere, you'll be what, 24 or something? You have a lot of time to take these chances and do other stuff if they don't work out.
posted by tremspeed at 1:10 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


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