The Hollywood Myth is that in order to be successful in film making in the United States, you need to move to Los Angeles. Lets debunk that crap right now.
So, I was recently doing a think-tank session with some up and coming film makers and one of the most often asked questions during the three day event was “When in my career should I move to Hollywood?” and that got me to thinking.
I’ve taken it for granted that young people should know better by now. I’ve been on this side of the independent film fence for so long that I’ve forgotten that most people still have some tinsel town dream of Hollywood glory and that it is severely handicapping their freedom.
These filmmakers didn’t just suspect they needed to go to Hollywood to be successful, they were betting everything they had (In Tim’s case, literally his entire life savings) in order to get to Hollywood and somehow make it big right away. It was with a rather heavy heart that I had to break Tim’s dreams into a million little pieces when I told him that just moving to Hollywood won’t really do anything for him. The Hollywood Myth is strong in Tim’s mind and a lot of people like him.
You see, a lot of people, like Tim, believe that just by moving to California that they’ll somehow be greeted with the Filmmaker Valkrie who will take them to the halls of Valhalla where they’ll make films forever at the foot of Odin or James Cameron or something. Okay, maybe that got away from me but the point really still stands. There’s no magic carpet ride to success just because you move to Hollywood.
In fact, most of the people who move there looking for honor and glory (by way of filmmaking) generally end up waiting tables while taking minor or extra positions in films while hoping that they’re somehow getting noticed. Or, worse, they put together something awful in hopes of viral status and think that just because they’re in Hollywood someone will take them more seriously.
The point to all of this is that you don’t need to move to get started. In fact, if you think about it, the worse thing you can do is upend your life and your support infrastructure to move to a place where you’ll find literally thousands of people with your exact same story and realize you’ve spent all that time, money, and energy getting to a pace where you don’t really want to be, pursuing a path you don’t need to take.
You can make an epic blockbuster mega uber awesome (…Ok, too much energy drink) film in your own home town, no matter how big or small it is. I live in West Virginia, in a small town of no more than 2,000 people and I’m certain that I could make a great film here if I actually put one together.
Generally speaking, your characters wont be in Hollywood in your film. They’ll be in “Somewhereville” and if you’re smart and crafty, you can make that Somewhereville into just about anything. With a little bit of planning and forethought, you can save yourself the enormous amount of time and money needed to get a project off the ground in Hollywood because A) You’re not going to get A list celebrities right away and B) It costs an utter shit load of money to do anything outside in Hollywood with permission (seriously folks, always get permission!).
So, when I’m asked “When should I move to Hollywood to further my career” my answer is almost always going to be “Never”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are way more opportunities in Hollywood than in Nowhereville, USA, but that doesn’t mean you need to move there to further your career.
Get a filmmaking kit and start making movies. Write awesome scripts, learn about lighting and cinematography, learn how to block out shots and construct your visuals in a way that tells an awesome story and you can make great films just about anywhere. The Hollywood Myth has been around since before the internet. Let that sink in.
Now, a lot of my rants and posts seem to demonize Hollywood and make me out to be some fringe weirdo with a grudge, (maybe?) but I do love a lot of the stuff that comes out of the big box production companies. I’m just not a Koolaide drinking flunky who thinks that the only way to make it big is to make it Hollywood.
I really see places like Netflix and Amazon paving the way for new and exciting origional content as well as people just putting up their own websites and making a go of it themselves. Social media is the king of all marketing these days and I think you’d be hard pressed to find something as awesome as Facebook and Twitter for such a small amount of your film budget.
All in all, don’t believe the hype of the Hollywood Myth more than you believe the hype of anything else. Take it with a grain of salt and ask yourself Do you really want to move to Hollywood, California? If not, don’t, because just moving there won’t get you into magic filmmaker land, it will just make yet another waiter with a script hoping that someone patronizing your tables will take a look at your work.
Harsh? Probably. Wrong? Nope.
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