LA FIRSTS is an interview series at ATW&SB that shines a spotlight on just a few of the countless people who make the brave and absurd decision to move to Los Angeles to write for film or TV. We talk about what got them packing boxes, the realities that hit when they first came to L.A. and important milestones they finally achieved.
Cody Lyons is a creative exec at Outlier who's also working on his own scripts.
When did you first decide to move to LA? What made you decide to go for it?
I'm from Washington State. I met some friends in there who were from the LA area and were moving back. It was a now-or-never situation. I had been saving money and writing scripts prior, but had no real plan of execution until they told me they were moving back.
Where/What was your first apartment like?
I jumped around the Long Beach/Orange County area for a year or two. I've lived in Fullerton for a few years now. Everyone asks about the commute, and while it's impossible to figure out LA traffic, it's not too bad. I feel living in Orange County keeps me sane, while at the same time I sometimes wonder if I'm missing out on making LA friends or networking opportunities.
Where I live in Orange County it just seems easier to get around. I can run to a store or grab food and not have to deal with the kind of traffic you would have to deal with making a short trip down La Cienega. Parking is also quadrillion times easier in Orange County.
I can also go out and have drinks and not have to worry if I'm at the best place for networking or the trendiest spot.
What was your first industry job? How'd you get it?
I moved to the LA area at quite possibly the worst time: the writer's strike. I applied for every industry job that I saw an ad for and went a couple interviews, but had no bites. I had saved more money than any other time in life when I made the move, but it was dwindling fast. So, I took another job and then fell into a place where I was comfortable, but soon realized I wasn't going to accomplish anything without taking a chance. I was able to get an internship at a new production company and was later hired on as a creative exec.
Do you remember reading a particular script that inspired you or made you think you had to be a writer?
It wasn't necessarily a script. I started writing a novel my freshman year, but gave it up pretty quickly. I then floundered through high school without any real direction. It was the spring after I graduated--everyone in my incredibly boring criminal justice class was talking about something in a hatch--could it be parallel universe, a Nazi bunker? That's when I discovered LOST. I had to find out who created this show and how they went about it. There were no film classes at my local college, so I bought every screenwriting book I could get my hands on and ponied up for Final Draft 7.
What was your first celebrity sighting or a time you saw/met someone you admired?
I had lunch with Kyle Killen (Mind Games, Awake) we had exchanged a few emails and I asked him to lunch. At that time in my life I was basically just writing pilots, sharing with my screenwriting group and putting them in drawers. He basically lit a fire under my ass and said I had to get into the industry in some way. That's when I started looking into the internships.
I also almost ran over Ed O'Neill at Counter Burger in Santa Monica.