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What are some mistakes people make when trying to "make it" in Los Angeles?

I just recently moved here, and while I don't work in Hollywood, one of the things I've noticed that is so many people still seem to think that LA will be the solution to their career. They think all they have to do is know the right people and do the right projects and BAM!, they'll become successful.

While I'm sure that's part of the process, it seems that too many people in LA are the SAME. They don't stand out--not in looks and not in the work they're producing. And when you're competing with 10394203948039 other people, wouldn't it do a person well to at least stand out from the pack?

It also seems that people are too dependent on the Powers That Be in Hollywood. Unless you're trying to be an actor, I don't see why you would wait around for someone ELSE to pick you for a project. I don't know--write your own script, shoot your own movie, write a song. Do SOMETHING proactive. Because even as an outsider, I have a feeling that Hollywood/the entertainment business doesn't really give a damn about anyone until they make a name for themselves. The days of promoting random people as "stars" or working your way up the directing/screenwriting ladder seem over. You have to do it yourself first.


replies 53Feb 19, 2015 9:57 AM +00:00

Sorry, meant to say "one of the things I've noticed is that so many people still seem to think..."

replies 1Feb 19, 2015 9:58 AM +00:00

Your best bet is to go directly to the studio and ask to speak to the president. Tell him you've got pluck and don't mind working in the chorus until you catch your big break. Make friends with the wardrobe and makeup gals and be sure to remember the little people.

replies 2Feb 19, 2015 10:03 AM +00:00

Networking is the pathway to success in LA (Entertainment Industry). People associate the industry with acting but in actuality that makes up a very small portion of the actual marketplace. There are jobs galore including positions in development, creative services, production, post production, sales, distribution, IT, computer graphics, photography, web design, HR, accounting, legal, music licensing, marketing and communications, vault/inventory services, editorial, QC etc.

It used to be easy to get a foot in the door by taking temp jobs. Disney contracted Apple One in Glendale quite a bit. Get a job anywhere and start networking. Get to know your work associates, attend get togethers. It's hard to meet people in LA so take classes and meet up for events, food truck runs at night, movies and cocktails. Join applicable organizations like ATAS, writers groups, book reading clubs, hiking groups and foodie things like wine tasting events, walking food tours etc.

Once you get a foot in the door your success in LA is probable 60% related to your oersonality and subsequent friendships/associations. A lot of advancements are made possible by word of mouth (find out about the opportunity from friends) and references.

replies 3Feb 19, 2015 10:17 AM +00:00

I think you could say the same thing about NY, R3. It's all about who you know. And unlike the OP, I believe you can be totally mediocre, which about 80% of the film business people are, but you will gain success if the right people help you out. It's all LUCK. Talent... not so much, though it's good to have some.

replies 4Feb 19, 2015 10:20 AM +00:00

Not being bilingual.

replies 5Feb 19, 2015 10:27 AM +00:00

Joining Scientology after they say they can help your career, for starters

replies 6Feb 19, 2015 10:31 AM +00:00

Don't get me wrong; I'm sure connections are still 80% of what drives success in LA. But I also think the other 20% can be helped by being different or unique in some way. So many actresses, actors, directors, and writers are the SAME from what I've seen. They dress the same, they talk about the same shit in the same way. Even if they get connections, I can't imagine how people would be entertained by the shit they produce.

replies 7Feb 19, 2015 10:56 AM +00:00

Be original?

replies 8Feb 19, 2015 11:01 AM +00:00

Really OP? You see Hollywood as a place of diversity and variety? "Hollywood" is people who try really hard to not be responsible for any decision making, even when decision making is their job (remember the leaked Sony emails), so taking a chance on anything different is something they do not do. They all run away from taking a risk, but will gladly support a rehash of the same idea or a talent that is "just like that other talent".

replies 9Feb 19, 2015 11:02 AM +00:00

Getting involved with Bryan Singer.

--Ask Skyler Taylor
replies 10Feb 19, 2015 11:04 AM +00:00

I was so self confident and arrogant. My attitude was "you owe me". When they found I did porn, the doors closed so fast it'd make your head spin.

I left with my tail between my legs. Hard town to crack.

replies 11Feb 19, 2015 11:04 AM +00:00

R4/R9: But wouldn't that be all the more reason TO take risks, especially if you're just starting out? Like I said, I'm just an outsider. I don't know anything about the inner workings of Hollywood, so I could be wrong. I can see why a high-flying studio exec would be afraid to take risks. But all these young, hungry 20-somethings? They're so desperate for success, yet they're all vying for it in the exact same way. What risk is there to try to look and produce something different when you're that low on the totem pole?

replies 12Feb 19, 2015 11:09 AM +00:00


replies 13Feb 19, 2015 2:25 PM +00:00

Ducking David Geffen

replies 14Feb 19, 2015 2:28 PM +00:00
I have a feeling that Hollywood/the entertainment business doesn't really give a damn about anyone until they make a name for themselves.

Such deep insight!

replies 15Feb 19, 2015 2:58 PM +00:00

Getting your car fixed at the wrong place. It took me three visits to realize they were breaking something every time they fixed something.

replies 16Feb 19, 2015 3:11 PM +00:00

It looks like 10 year olds can now start threads on DL.

replies 17Feb 19, 2015 3:12 PM +00:00

Everything R3 said is true for any industry. Networking is how you land a good job. Period. Great advice.

replies 18Feb 19, 2015 3:15 PM +00:00

They aren't doing enough synchronized dancing flash mobs outside studio gates in an effort to win that multi-picture contract. It's evidence they don't have enough of the fame flame burning in their hearts and eyes, that's all

replies 19Feb 19, 2015 3:17 PM +00:00

going out to hollywood without your talent by your side

--mrs patsey ramsey, formerly of boulder co
replies 20Feb 19, 2015 3:17 PM +00:00

The reason Hollywood is unoriginal is because the public is unoriginal. If the public wants to see comic book movies aimed at young boys, that is what Hollywood will produce

replies 21Feb 19, 2015 3:30 PM +00:00

Don't go out to LA. Go work local theater in Phoenix. Take direction well, be prepared, don't be a ham. Go to some film festivals because you've also done FREE indie work with local film makers. At least you can get a reel out of it. Don't forget acting is work, so try out for anything you can that pays. DON'T get involved in porn. Social media will find you out and it's not the 70's where a FEW can overcome such decisions. ALSO, sin up with local, reputable talent agencies. In Arizona, some might pass you off to a TA in LA. AND, if a popular casting director comes thru to do classes and Q&A, go! They have some of the best experience to draw from. And don't be a rat to anyone. Class will outlast ass.

replies 22Feb 19, 2015 3:31 PM +00:00

That's nonsense R21. Nepotism caused Hollywood's disturbingly low standards and lack of creativity. It's internal rot and that's why its influence worldwide is tiny compared to what it was in the 70s.

replies 23Feb 19, 2015 3:54 PM +00:00

Here's what to do. First, you need a modicum of talent but not much more than that. Be focused and ruthless. Don't get caught up in the drama of your restaurant job cause that's where you're bound to stay. Then kiss ass, especially the right ass. Never hang with anyone below your status, only your status and above. If somebody around you fucks up or falls out of fashion, cut them out of your life like a cancer. It's no place for loyalty. Flirt and fuck but smartly; nobody respects a slut. Look good; even the lowliest jobs are cast with an eye on the physical. And if and when you do make it, never offer to help anyone that actually needs your help.

--20 year hollywood veteran who now can't get arrested.
replies 24Feb 19, 2015 3:55 PM +00:00

R24: does your advice apply just to people who want to be actors or writers and directors? It seems like OP is right that writers and directors aren't as dependent on others for projects as actors. At least writers and directors can start projects on their own.

replies 25Feb 19, 2015 4:00 PM +00:00

[25] It applies to EVERYONE, son. Writers and directors only get meetings if they play the game 24/7.

--20 year vet
replies 26Feb 19, 2015 4:04 PM +00:00

OP saying you can you can DIY is magical thinking. There are tons of entertaining. skillful, original, blah blah videos floating around. Who cares? No one's gonna really see them unless you get some money and influence behind them. You can a big shit in Philly or wherever but without very skillfully doing the Hollywood dance, that's exactly where you're gonna stay. Honestly, some of these posters sound like they've never been west of San Bernardino.

--20 year hollywood vet who's about to start drinking
replies 27Feb 19, 2015 4:24 PM +00:00
Everything [R3] said is true for any industry. Networking is how you land a good job. Period.

I've found some great six-figure tech jobs merely because my resume was well written and I interviewed well. Networking can help, but it's not necessary to land a good job. Knowing what you're doing and being presentable is important, too.

replies 28Feb 19, 2015 4:45 PM +00:00

If you're trying to be an actor in L.A. knowing what you are doing isn't the top priority.

Let's face it, actors are just monkeys mouthing someone else's creativity (or lack of it, but pretty pretty monkeys.)

Here's how to succeed (or at least not fail) in the rest of L.A. - get a job BEFORE you move there.

Worked in L.A. for a decade and every summer saw the migration of pretty young idiots who stuck around a year or two then ended up back in Minnesota going to junior college.

replies 29Feb 19, 2015 4:56 PM +00:00
Nepotism caused Hollywood's disturbingly low standards and lack of creativity. It's internal rot and that's why its influence worldwide is tiny compared to what it was in the 70s

R23's wisdom cannot be repeated enough.

replies 30Feb 21, 2015 3:16 AM +00:00

IMHO the reason they "all look the same", is that nobody inside The Industry will take a newcomer seriously unless they have bleached hair, veneered teeth, a visible nose job, a spray tan, a size 0/six-pack bod, and a "designer" wardrobe.

Of course that's always been true for actors, but it's also true of a lot of behind-the-scene types as well. And of course it hurts the product, if none of the actors look like human beings.

replies 31Feb 21, 2015 11:52 AM +00:00



--it had to be said
replies 32Feb 21, 2015 12:17 PM +00:00

Okay, but what about people who don't want to be actors? No screenwriters or directors out there?

replies 33Feb 23, 2015 8:12 AM +00:00

First, convert to Judaism or Scientology. Either/or.

replies 34Feb 23, 2015 9:39 AM +00:00
And if and when you do make it, never offer to help anyone that actually needs your help.

Two related points:

(1) Help someone if it'll make you look good, just make sure they lack talent and/or gumption and won't be your competition.

(2) Steal smart. There are a lot of people out there without connections or much visibility who do decent work. Get "inspired" by them at will.

(2a) If you work in a genre or business that has a lot of SJWs or internet fans, DON'T steal, because people online all day every day will find that shit out fast, and they'll out you with glee.

replies 35Feb 23, 2015 9:52 AM +00:00
No screenwriters or directors out there?

For screenwriters, it works if you sound gay, but are actually straight.

replies 36Feb 23, 2015 9:56 AM +00:00

R34, Does Scientology still have that much influence in entertainment? If so, in what areas? I'm just curious, as I'd never take a class.

replies 37Feb 23, 2015 9:59 AM +00:00

If you look waspy, darken your hair.

--Alejandro Irritating.
replies 38Feb 23, 2015 11:03 AM +00:00

What's wrong with helping people that need help?

replies 39Feb 23, 2015 2:47 PM +00:00
I don't know--write your own script, shoot your own movie, write a song. Do SOMETHING proactive.

What a revolutionary idea!! (oh wait never mind.... see youtube, kickstarter, gofundme etc.)

replies 40Feb 23, 2015 2:54 PM +00:00
food truck runs at night

really r3?

I mean food trucks?!?

Can you imagine?, born this way
replies 41Feb 23, 2015 2:58 PM +00:00

Most of these "mistakes" aren't mistakes at all -- those who have problems making it now are up against nepotism and tribalism.

Don't worry -- we will remember what they did.

replies 42Feb 24, 2015 3:48 AM +00:00

Meeting Michael Lucas

replies 43Feb 24, 2015 3:49 AM +00:00

Doesn't Hollywood happen elsewhere these days? Almost all this years Oscar contenders were independent features, often developed & shot far from Hollywood. And if you manage to climb in the insider's greasy pole in Hollywood what is the thrill at the top these days: greenlighting or working on some superhero or game driven shit for the chinese market? What's the point?

replies 44Feb 24, 2015 4:04 AM +00:00

W&W for you R2! I wet myself laffing.

replies 45Feb 24, 2015 4:13 AM +00:00

R44, from what I can see, people who want to be actors still need to be in Hollywood given the number of productions that are here. I can imagine that anyone else (i.e. writers, directors, etc.) can be wherever they can find a team and the space.

replies 46Feb 25, 2015 8:33 AM +00:00

OP, they say ‘if you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with your bullshit’. Become one of those legendary looks of Sunset Strip, get a gimmick with a costume. Sounds crazy but people will remember it, and therefore will remember you. Eccentrics are also considered genius...

replies 47Dec 6, 2017 1:22 PM +00:00

going to LA to make it......

replies 48Dec 6, 2017 1:27 PM +00:00

Sleeping with the Producer/Director.

The crying #MeToo when they don't get the part.

replies 49Dec 6, 2017 1:29 PM +00:00

watch "get shorty" and "the player" back to back. you'll see how they operate.

replies 50Dec 6, 2017 1:30 PM +00:00

Not being 20-30 years old, not having a solid 8 inches, not "sharing" your ass generously.

replies 51Dec 6, 2017 1:40 PM +00:00

Don't get into the pron industry.

replies 52Dec 6, 2017 1:47 PM +00:00

Get one of those gourmet food trucks. Then park it outside one of the studios. Start networking with the hungry studio folks!
replies 53Dec 6, 2017 1:59 PM +00:00