The Film & TV Industry Guide to Moving and Working in Hollywood

Judi Shekoni
2008 Edition

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info@makeitamerica.com www.makeitamerica.com

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INT. Small Apartment. A European City. – DAY We open on a cramped apartment, it’s 5am and the sun is rising. In the hazy early morning light we see a figure packing clothes, another suitcase leaning against the open door. We hear a noise and see a pyjama-clad girl standing by the bedroom doorway. Toni Wow, so this is actually it. What time is your flight? You got everything you need? Figure I got a list, so yeah I think so… Looking through a pile of nearby papers (cont…) Work permit, show reel, C.V. apartment and agent details. Gotta pick up my hire car at the airport, air tickets & passport in my bag. No more excuses. Oh, will you transfer that money into my American bank account when you can, I’ll have to pay Union Dues soon hopefully! Toni Sure, I’ll call you when it’s done. You left your American number? Figure Yeah, it’s on the side. Make

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sure you dial the US code first… Looking out the window, we see a cab waiting. The two friends hug tightly. Toni I am so proud of you, and I know you are going to do so well. Good luck, you’ll kick ass. Figure leaves the house and walks into the cold morning air to the waiting taxi. Weighed down with suitcases, bags and luggage but held high with dreams, opportunities and thoughts of great adventures yet to come… FADE TO BLACK:

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Introduction
I created this book to help anyone who has a dream. A dream which may have started as a child, and now escalated to something which borders on an obsession… an obsession to live and work in Hollywood. Whether you want to work in front of the camera or behind. Whether the desire came from a favourite Hollywood film, the E channel or just the need for good weather and sunshine. Whether you are already an established professional or are planning the daunting task of a new career and a new home. Whether you have a hefty bank account to hit the ground as a media mogul, or prepared to study the cocktail makers handbook to support yourself during the lean times. This book covers all you need to know to make a move to Hollywood, work there and, even more importantly, do so successfully. Dealing primarily with Los Angeles, but also acknowledging New York, we will work through everything: Making that initial decision Preparing Moving

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Living Finding work …setting you well on your way towards your ultimate goal… finding success and happiness in America. This information not just relevant, but essential, to anyone considering a move, be it in 2 weeks, 2 years or even 20 years time. For Hollywood, preparation and timing is everything. I created this book because of my own experiences, because of my own desire and sheer determination to turn it into a reality. Was it hard? Sure. Will it be easier for you? Possibly. Every mistake I made, every lesson I learnt, every tip, nugget of golden information and revelation is shared to enable you to make a move with the most ease, success and least strain on your finances. I researched it in detail for years before going, and have been living here successfully for years. I have gathered information from hundreds of creative people in varying professions who also made the move and the hundreds of people, who through my company Make It America, I have personally helped with the transition. In addition, this book is constantly in a state of revision to provide new information. We welcome experiences you personally may have which you think will be of interest to others. Please email them via info@makeitamerica.com. This book, very much like our careers is constantly a

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“Work in progress…”

DECISIONS DECISIONS…

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Los Angeles Versus New York
Lets get down to basics, we should make sure we know where we are planning to go, before planning to go there… Within the great country of America there really are only two places for people within the entertainment field to be… Los Angeles and New York. Ask anyone who has been to both and they will tell you “You’ll love one and hate the other.” Well, anyone except me, I think I love everything America, always have. New York is a fast, 24-hour city, with a great public transport system and very distinct seasons. LA, runs at a moderate pace, the nightlife has an abrupt stop of 2am, you drive everywhere, and though there are also distinct seasons here… they are not to do with trivial things like the sun and planetary movement, they are the television seasons… when the new shows are aired. Los Angeles Los Angeles is famous for the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry. It falls within the state of California, but the states capital is actually little known Sacramento; home of Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s right, California is the place where they put the Terminator in charge.

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There are numerous cities within LA such as Santa Monica, Century City and Culver City, but it is “Hollywood” that most people are drawn to. Situated in a “basin” surrounded by mountains and sea, Hollywood is probably the most central of the cities. Others worth a mention are Studio city and Burbank, where the majority of the major studios have their film lots. Housing in these areas are slightly cheaper and life often a little more suburban. Beach wise, Santa Monica and Malibu, are probably the best-known cities. Santa Monica houses the biggest English population in California and is one of the few places with pedestrian areas. Malibu meanwhile does not really care about you walking, since it houses a big percentage of the very famous, rich people… who basically own chunks of the beach that your not allowed to walk on! LAX is Los Angeles’ major international airport. Located southwest of Hollywood, there are literally hundreds of flights into LAX a day both nationally and internationally. Again, the best and quite frankly, the only transportation around LA once you’re there, is by car. Almost everyone in LA is there to work in Entertainment, so it can feel like a big university campus, where everyone is somehow interconnected. But then again, as a complete contradiction, it can also be very lonely and isolating, particular if you do not have the car I keep talking about!

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Los Angeles as a whole, is a beautiful, palm-tree lined, beach city, which also just happens to be the epicentre of the worlds film and television. New York Albany is actually the capital of the State of New York, although loud and bright New York City definitely feels more like the capital! Manhattan is NYC’s best-known borough, however other surrounding areas also grab attention and offer great accessibility and cheaper housing, such as nearby Brooklyn. In fact if a lot of your business is in Soho you are much closer to the action living in Brooklyn than in most northern parts of Manhattan. And you’ll probably be considered way ‘cooler’ too. Airports JFK and La Guardia are the primary airports catering for NYC. And yes they are busy, really busy with flights from all over the world and America. The cost of living there is comparable to London, as are its tiny apartments, great nightlife, cosmopolitan outlook and ethnically diverse inhabitants. To live in New York most of us need to work and hard. Here the pace is fast and life pretty expensive, with a lot of people having two jobs or putting in major hours at the one they are have to make a living and live a nice life. If you can afford an apartment to yourself in New York you’re considered a great success! Which could be why the ladies in Sex and the City were so desperate to find a man… its way cheaper!

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There are thousands of actors residing in New York but in my opinion it just is not as strong for television and film as LA, although New York has an incredibly successful theatre industry with both on and off Broadway and world famous musicals. There is a thriving independent film market in New York and a good commercial market due to the major advertising agencies being located there. However the studio film lots and the majority of the major TV programs are still cast and shot in LA. Actors in New York I speak to frequently talk of being put on tape and it being sent to LA. There are a lot of relocated New Yorkers in LA who moved there to further their acting careers. Overall In my opinion, LA is the world capital of Entertainment and although New York may be a great, cool, happening city a move to New York to work in the entertainment industry may only necessitate a move to LA further down the line. I further supplement this advice, by saying I DID JUST THAT. And after moving to New York, I relocated to LA. For this reason this booklet will concentrate predominately on Los Angeles, California.

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What Can You Expect From LA?
The Place Well, America and Los Angeles specifically, definitely has largest film industry in the world. It just has more money, more jobs, and more productions with higher production values. Most people in LA eat, sleep and breathe the industry. Most people in LA have left their family and friends to move there to do just that. There are people who are hungry for success, and yes, unfortunately, people who have become embittered by the lack of it. To generalise, I’ve found people in powerful positions here tend to be like sheep… they will all run in the same direction, so if you are a little successful it can be easy to capitalise on it and get people to jump on board your train, but if you are not it can be hard to get that first bit break. Getting your Break To summarize I have found there are two most likely ways you are going to get your break in LA: As a fresh, new young face. Every power player in LA would like to be the one to ‘Find’ the new hottest thing, to ‘Launch’ his or her career. When you first arrive you are unproven, but more importantly, you are also unknown and undiscovered. From this aspect you should be able to find a fair number of managers and agents who will give you a go, but do beware as Hollywood is

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notorious for eating people up and then spitting them out, which means, if you don’t deliver it wont be long until your out and the next new, young, hot thing is in! The second most likey ‘break’ is when this instant buzz didn’t happen for you, or if it did it went away. This way tends to be the gradual build up, which is where over the course of 6ish years you work your way slower up the ladder to a point where suddenly all the hard work pays off and you’re announced an overnight success. Obviously there are many exceptions to this theories, but the reason I mention it is to see how you need to be prepared, whichever way you look at it, if or when the iron strikes, you better be hot! Ease of Life Los Angeles is a beautiful place to live generally, you will have a nice quality of life, things are relatively cheap, and there is plenty to do. However this leads to a trap you should be careful not to fall into: complacency. Don’t become so relaxed and comfortable with a casual way of life that you lose your motivation and forget why you cam there in the first place. The People Flaky people? Yes. Superficial people? Yes. Liars? Yes. Crazy people? Yes. People who have sold their souls? Yes.

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LA has far and above its quota of crazy. But it equally has its share of reliability, depth, truth and common sense… you just need to dig a little harder to find it. The town can be lonely, but so can anywhere, including your own busy house if you lock yourself in your bedroom! If you want to take part and socialise there is more than enough to keep you busy. Superficiality is an easy bug to catch here… it is everywhere... looks and outward success and achievement hold great importance to most people here and it is a constant struggle to not allow yourself to get caught up in it. However, if you can take it with a grain of salt, find ways and activities to keep you grounded the whole superficiality of it can be entirely fun. I do enjoy driving a convertible down Sunset with my music on, so hate me! Americans do have a different sense of humour to most other people, particular English, however you can find some Americans that get it, and equally if you don’t, there are plenty of your fellow countrymen out there, so if you need to, you can always hunt them down. Having been here for 5 years, I still somehow don’t find LA entirely normal or ‘real’, somehow England still seems more grounded, people talk from a more honest place and there is generally less BS. But for all the other things that LA has to offer, I personally find, for me, it is the best place in the world to live, and England, and ‘reality’ is nice to pop back to for a holiday, preferably in summer, should there be one…

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How To Get There
Well that kind of depends on where you are coming from, doesn’t it? But for most foreigners it’s via plane. The main international airport in LA is LAX. It’s about 30-40 minutes from Hollywood via the ‘405’ and other freeways. It’s cheapest to fly out of season and there are great deals to be had on flights, just try to avoid flights in June/July/August. Try all the usual sources for cheap tickets: Cheaptickets.com, Cheapflights.com, Orbitz.com Expedia.com. Also if you are under 26 or a student try STA travel. I also find the Virgin Atlantic website regular have great offers depending where you are travelling from. Off Season you can find them for $500 return from Europe if you look hard and long enough. June/July/August: You will generally pay around $800 dollars although clever searching can still find you the odd bargain. If you are still unsure about whether New York holds an attraction for you investigate free stopovers in New York on route to LA, depending on where you are flying from.

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New York in on the flight path to LA from England, so some airlines including Virgin, do offer free or cheap stopovers there. IMPORTANT NOTES: When you are in LA you may be able to buy singles for exactly half the price of returns and because the dollar is so weak they are pretty economical. But be warned, you cannot fly into the US without a return ticket UNLESS you have your work permit. So if you don’t have a work permit ALWAYS buy a return even if you don’t know your return date. You can always change your ticket later. Avoid carrying with you any of your headshots, resumes and show reels with you as you travel over. You are travelling on a tourist visa, you cannot work in America until you have a work visa and the US customs take it very seriously if they think otherwise. I have friends who have been sent back and refused entry, as it appeared to the US immigration that they might be planning to live and work there without a visa. Solutions: Find out the flight departures and arrivals and see if you can send your things beforehand. For Example: Flights to LA are normally morning and afternoon from London. So Fed-EX your things you may wish to have with you in the morning, before the flight, to the address you will be staying at. You arrive in

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LA the same day that you leave the UK (on the way back you arrive in UK the following morning) and so you’ll be able to sign and collect them from FedEx yourself the following morning before 12pm when the delivery arrives. Alternatively send them to a friend’s address. Normal mail from England to LA can take anywhere between 3 days and 8 days. Typically, it ends up closer to the latter. The rest of Europe is a similar timeframe, Australia varies depending on what area you are sending to.

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From A-B in LA
Taxis cost $35-$45 to most LA destinations, but make sure you agree on a fee if possible before driving off, there are flat fees of $35 to Hollywood and other cities available. LA traffic means you may sit in traffic for an hour with the meter clocking up nicely! Warning, like every service provider in Los Angeles, they expect a tip – of around 15%. The queue for taxs is usually long. Another great alternative if you have the time and are shorter on cash is the “Roadrunner Shuttle” or the “Blue Super Shuttle”. Upon exiting the airport ask any of the airport staff for either of the Shuttle Services and you will be directed to a mini bus. They pick up a few people at a time going to the same area and will drop you off at your door for approximate $23. They are a fantastic bargain and they run frequently. If you’re going to hire a car you can organise it beforehand on the Internet, or you can do it at the airport. There are car hire buses collecting from various stops outside the baggage claim so choose a stop and the bus will take you to the Avis, Hertz, and Enterprise stations. I recommend Avis and Hertz. My biggest note is YOU CAN BARGAIN AND NEGOTIATE. The sales advisor’s first offer is not his last. I had a convertible Mustang for $139 dollars a week instead of $439. Also they can give you a list of others to call whist you’re there and you can call around to compare prices.

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Tip 1: you can negotiate price by saying you want it for a month but typically they still only charge you by the day so you can bring it back whenever you like and pay the lower price. TIP 2: you need insurance on your hire car every day in LA, which ends up at a rate of at least $15 dollars a day. The only way I have managed to avoid this charge is to get a one-year business travel insurance from American Express. (Telephone 01273 668 300 or try 0870 6001060.) It costs about £110 for the whole year but gives you great health and travel insurance and you save $15 a day guaranteed! You should look to pay around $139 from a regular car hire firm for a basic car … ASK FOR A FREE UPGRADE! This is normally very easy to get. If you’re really on a budget call “Rent a Wreck” in LA, which have a variety of cars - some wrecks, some not. My friend hired a car for $900 for 3 months, which worked out to less than £180 pounds a month. Driving around LA is easy. Yes, they drive on the other side of the road, but there are no roundabouts. Just understand the rules of stop signs – you give way to whoever arrives first. Oh, and of course, in America you can turn right on a red light. For getting to destinations, I HIGHLY recommend using MAPS on www.yahoo.com or www.mapquest.com. You just type in your home address and your final destination and it gives you a

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detailed map, driving directions and the time it will take. It’s incredible!! Other travel planning options are the Thompson guide (LA’s A-Z) which I find it’s too bulky and complicated, and laminated maps from gas/petrol stations or in the stores along Hollywood and Highland. Tom Tom lovers can hire them with the car, or pick up a navigation system for around $300 at a Radio Shack or other electrical stores. Try and know where your going before you set off as LA drivers are generally impatient! Overall LA is grid-like, similar to New York, and really easy to find your way around. Do be aware of not taking enough notice of the building numbers though, as some streets run into the tens of thousands and just driving along the street till you reach the number can take an hour or two!! Sepulveda Blvd for example runs through Los Angeles and up to Sacramento! Also extra tip: Parking ticket wardens go around in cars here searching you out for your little mistakes, they are unscrupulous, fast and methodical. Don’t make mistakes; leaving your car for a minute can easily get you a ticket here. But once you have one, I would try sending it back explaining why it was their mistake not yours! It seems to work!! - Don’t have ANY part of your car parked in the red paint (designated no parking areas) - On a slope, when parking uphill, turns the wheels away from the curb; when parking downhill turn the wheels into the curb.

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Read parking CAREFULLY!!!!

Once you are here for good you will need to buy a car, a used one seems to offer the best deal, and you will be surprised at just how cheap they are, we will talk cars later.

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LA… Hollywood… Where to live!
Okay, so, Hollywood is just a city within LA, okay?. It is not essential to live in Hollywood. In fact many actors live in the other cities surrounding it, which are cheaper, more residential and generally in a better location. You drive everywhere in LA so being totally central is not a necessity. Examples of good cheap areas to live are Studio city, Burbank, West Hollywood, North Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire and Los Feliz. Most auditions are either in the studio lots or at the casting director’s offices. The majority of these tend to be Burbank, Hollywood or Culver City. Living by the beach (Santa Monica or Malibu) is beautiful, but in traffic to get to Hollywood or Burbank it can easily take you an hour or longer. Most actors I know suggest living closer to Hollywood for the first year to get to know it and go to class etc. After the first year then consider a move further out to Malibu when you are more settled, have a manager and agent and of course are a millionaire. Hopefully by this point you will have developed a routine where you don’t need to be in Hollywood every day meeting with people, but just drive in for the actual auditions. In my experience this makes perfect sense and is exactly what I did. Santa Monica has a lot of British residents, even a few British pubs and British shops. British people

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are mainly drawn here as it’s quite a pedestrian friendly area as opposed to the rest of LA where the cars rule. Third Street Promenade is beautiful. Pretty enough to be stuck in traffic for an hour each day to live near?? Only you can decide.

FOR THE FULL BOOK INCLUDING OVER 100 MORE PAGES OF ESSENTIAL INFORMATION PLEASE GO TO: http://www.lulu.com/content/466741 other chapters include: Getting a manager and agent Getting a work visa for the states P/time work When to go Commercials SAG And much much more. Also check out: www.makeitamerica.com

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