It’s nothing new and yeah, they come and go – mostly when I’m tuned in to reading about the industry in Los Angeles and how difficult it is for ‘foreigners’ to get into Hollywood. By that I mean every writer who lives outside of the city. It is increasingly difficult the farther you are away from the epicenter. So if you’re a screenwriter in Antarctica, forget it. You’re better off having your own ice cube stand on the corner. Are there corners in Antarctica?
When I started my quest to be a screenwriter, I knew it was going to be an impossible task to break into Los Angeles. Funny, but I’ve heard stories of people trying to break OUT of Los Angeles, but I digress. I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work, sacrifice, money, time and (most important of all) luck. All of this is not lost on me. I am a nobody from nowheresville who knows no one. I try very hard not to lose focus and keep blinders on – ignoring all the unimaginative re-boots that seem to gush from the studios. I keep telling myself: ‘out there somewhere, some day, there is a home for what I have written’.
I told myself that once I had gathered up a solid portfolio of screenplays, then I’d be ready for the real reality check. That time has now come. Part of that process is putting myself and my work out there. Another part is discovering the politics of the industry: who’s buying what, who’s selling what, who’s making what and just the general ‘how things are done’. It’s the how things are done that makes me want to scream.
It’s important to note that I’ve decided to try the LA-Hollywood route. I’m going for the big enchilada. I did consider my own country and the fact that I’m not even going to try speaks volumes about the state of the Canadian film industry which is an entirely different topic. I just can’t see myself making a living as a film screenwriter in Canada. There are those that do for TV and good for them, but it is a very small community – one that is even harder to break into than Hollywood if you can believe that.
The reality of the international spec screenwriter who does not live in LA (or the US for that matter – and trying to work in the US after 9/11 is an entirely different topic) is that reality trumps moving to LA.
We have families that need our support, bills that have to be paid, mortgages, debt, day jobs that pay the bills, loans and health care/insurance that we’d be crazy to give up, etc. There are probably a lot that live paycheque to paycheque. For the financially prudent spec screenwriter in these uncertain financial times, it would be ludicrous to pack up and move to LA to try and make a go of it with the chance of losing everything you have and ending up destitute a distinct possibility – not that I’m writing a screenplay about that right now… hmmmm…
I know that producers/consultants/agents in LA know this, but they are so far removed from the spec screenwriter’s circumstances that they really don’t see the kind of pickle we’re in. Sorry, but I’m not willing to risk everything, to take that one in a million chance. It’s incredibly risky. I’m quite sure things were different ‘back in the day’ when a screenwriter (or even an actor) arrived with nothing in Hollywood and took that chance – they had nothing to lose. People who have already built up savings and have debt on their plate have everything to lose.
BTW, I think it’s great that LA is looking for new, talented writers and I understand the need to be in LA for meetings etc., but if I’m a wanted commodity, I shouldn’t have to bear all the risk of moving to LA for something that may or may not work out. If I’m that talented and that wanted, pay me to take that chance without me having to worry about losing everything that I’ve worked hard for in my life.
So I’ll try to break in outside of LA and if it doesn’t work, I’ll pursue other avenues – the UK, Australia, Bollywood and if that doesn’t work I may just have to do what I was going to do 25 years ago – write novels. Hmmmm…
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