Poor noob going to LA. Suggestions... ?
March 17, 2010 8:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of going to LA for the first week in May. I've never been there before, don't have a full driver's license, and am low on funds. A director has expressed mild interest in my writing (read one of my screenplays, doesn't want to buy it, wants to discuss my writing in general)--he's in Venice Beach. Where should I stay? Also, what kind of license would I need to rent a Vespa type scooter?

A few years ago I read about a hotel that gave cut rates to out of work actors... any idea what this hotel is and is there something similar for writers?

Regarding lodgings... I thought about hitting Craigslist for a sublet or something but don't know shit about where to look for, geography-wise.
posted by dobbs to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, LA (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You would need a driver's license with a motorcycle endorse. You're probably better off relying on cabs.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:39 PM on March 17, 2010

I may be totally missing something here...but couldn't you just discuss your writing on the phone or Skype? What necessitates a full week in Los Angeles? I could see if he were considering buying your screenplay, you might want to come meet him to show you were serious and official and such, but if all he's going to do is mentor you on your writing he could easily do that remotely and I would think he'd be happy to, given how entirely non-cheap it is to come here and stay awhile.

I mean, if you want to come hang out here anyway, that's another thing. You'll spend a lot of time on the bus, though.
posted by little light-giver at 8:45 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's your cheap way to get to Venice from LAX.
posted by slidell at 8:52 PM on March 17, 2010

Here's the Venice Beach Hostel, at $22 / night. It'll be hectic, but I would be (very pleasantly) surprised if anyone knows of anything cheaper.
posted by slidell at 8:54 PM on March 17, 2010

Oh, couchsurfing would be cheaper.
posted by slidell at 8:55 PM on March 17, 2010

The main purpose of the trip is just that I have always wanted to go there. I'd be going if I wasn't meeting the director. And of course we have already discussed the writing on the phone.

Chocolate Pickle... are you saying there's no such thing as a motorcycle-only license in California? One has to have a car license to ride a motorcycle?

Thanks for the answers thus far.
posted by dobbs at 8:57 PM on March 17, 2010

How mild is this mild interest? Did he specifically ask you to come out? Does he know you'd be coming from as far away as Toronto? How much time does he want to spend talking to you? Do you have anything else to do while you're in LA or any other reason to be there?

I don't mean to sound cynical or dismissive, but if you're tight on funds and can't drive yourself around the city, this may not be a worthwhile investment for you. It's true that networking is key in entertainment, and that sometimes fantastic opportunities can come out of just this sort of situation. But in my experience, LA industry types can be extremely flaky about making plans (most of the lunch meetings I've had out there were arranged after a moderate amount of hassling on my part and weren't firmed up until an hour or two before they happened) and unless you want to spend your entire trip within walking distance of this guy's house, it may be difficult for you to pin him down in the timeframe and with the resources available to you. And if you can arrange a meeting, I wouldn't count on more than an hour or two of his time unless he's given you unambiguous reasons to expect otherwise. Is a short lunch meeting worth the time and effort to you? I mean, I'll be honest, I've dragged myself up to LA for the afternoon for exactly that kind of thing, but I was staying in San Diego and I had a car.

I'd strongly suggest talking to him on the phone first if you haven't already, and gauging how interested he really is in you and in your writing. Is he willing to take the time to look over some other writing samples and discuss them with you? Will he spend more than ten minutes with you on the phone and call when he say he will? If after speaking with him you feel like you're really connecting and he's invested in helping you out, the trip may very well be worth it.

If not...I mean, obviously do what you feel you have to to pursue your career. But this situation has a lot of potential for disappointment.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:09 PM on March 17, 2010

are you saying there's no such thing as a motorcycle-only license in California? One has to have a car license to ride a motorcycle?

posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:13 PM on March 17, 2010

The main purpose of the trip is just that I have always wanted to go there. I'd be going if I wasn't meeting the director. And of course we have already discussed the writing on the phone.

Of course, I saw this after I posted! Ugh. Well, disregard whatever doesn't apply!

If you end up renting a scooter and have a little extra cash, I'd highly recommend investing in a Thomas Guide. It has extremely detailed and easy to use maps of the city, organized with an intuitive and quick to learn system, and has been INVALUABLE to me during my stays in LA. In particular, it would make it much easier for you to stick to surface streets instead of the freeways, which are 1) probably a better match for a Vespa, and 2) often faster and much less clogged with traffic, particularly when you're not going very far.

Best of luck! I hope something fantastic comes out of this.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:18 PM on March 17, 2010

California requires its scooter-driving residents to have a class M2 license, the Class C requirement was dropped in 2006*. Visitors are allowed to use their home state license so if you're licensed to drive a scooter there, you're licensed to drive a scooter here. However, a scooter rental place might have its own rules about what kind of documentation they require so once you narrow your plans down, call ahead and ask the scooter place.

*still need a Class C if you have a side car but that's unlikely on a moped.
posted by jamaro at 9:18 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Remember the saying: "Hollywood's the only town where you can die of encouragement."

If you can't find a definitive answer about the licensing (do you have a motorcycle license in your home state?) maybe you could email or call a LA scooter rental place?

posted by elsietheeel at 9:19 PM on March 17, 2010

Ah, that makes more sense then. You really should've just said "How can I vacation in Los Angeles on the cheap-like?" and not even mentioned the screenplay, cause it totally distracted me.

Never stayed in the HI Los Angeles, but it's $28 per night the first week of May (+ $3 per night if you aren't a member of Hostelling International) and the location is excellent. It's a very safe area, lots of foot traffic, lots of bars and restaurants (though mst not cheap), and near the transit hub in Santa Monica, and it really is a block from the beach. You can take the Big Blue Bus there from the airport, I'm sure, and you might actually be able to rent a bicycle to get around if that's something you might be interested in doing. Venice is definitely biking distance from this hostel.
posted by little light-giver at 9:20 PM on March 17, 2010

The Venice Hostel is probably your cheapest bet, but if you're looking on Craigslist and so on, Google Maps is your friend. Most people coming to Los Angeles for the first time don't have a good grasp on the sheer scale of the city, and can accidentally end up staying hours away from their intended destination. Put an address (not just a city or zip code) into Google Maps (or your mapping site of choice) before you seriously consider staying at a particular location. Then understand that any driving time can easily triple around rush hour. In Craigslist, you'd look under the "Westside-SouthBay" subsection of rentals, and search for keywords like "Venice Beach." Depending on where in Venice this is, the south part of Santa Monica or north part of Marina Del Rey would also be possibilities.

Hosteling International also has a place in downtown Santa Monica that you might want to consider, depending on what else you want to do in LA while you're visiting. Santa Monica will offer more convenient bus routes to the big museums, as well as downtown and places to the east, than Venice if you don't end up having your own vehicle. From there to Venice would be a longish walk or a shortish bus ride/drive.

Or, on preview, I second little light-giver.
posted by unsub at 9:38 PM on March 17, 2010

I went to LA last year and had absolutely no problems getting around on the bus and metro, as a first-timer. Plus, it costs $5 for an all-day pass. Yes, it takes ages to get around, but you get to see a bit of the city and I also had a few great chit-chats with the locals.
posted by different at 2:00 AM on March 18, 2010

Just my opinion, but anyone who rides a Vespa in LA is insanely suicidal.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:53 PM on March 18, 2010

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