Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jobless, homeless and on your way to LA

Addie writes: How far before you moved did you start applying for jobs? And did you have someone in LA line up an apartment for you before you got there, or did you hunt online before you left?

I think I started applying for jobs at least a month before I moved to LA, but I heard back about NONE of them. Actually, that's a lie - I got a call about working for HEROES (only because I had an alumni connection) but when I said I was still in Ithaca I nearly got laughed at. "I can be there soon," said Idealist New Graduate Amanda. "How soon is soon?" he asked. And when I computed the states and timezones it didn't quite add up. Guess what - I never worked for HEROES.

As much as you'll want to feel secure before you move here and find a job or at least an interview, it just isn't going to happen. Jobs in this town go VERY quickly, and people will expect you to interview in person immediately. Why should they wait for you or settle for a phone interview when there are dozens of people ready to come in tomorrow? Click on my Job Search label for more of my tales.

Save some money (I wish I took my own advice!), try your best to reassure incredulous relatives and just get in the car. When you get here you can always find temporary jobs like being an extra through Central Casting. Most people I know took about six weeks to find a job in the industry. It's tough - but remember how competitive it is.

When I came out here in college and got internships, I DID set up seven interviews ahead of time. Internships are easier because there's not usually a time deadline the way there is to fill an assistant position. Companies are generally looking for interns at the beginning of the semesters (January or August) or summer (May) - but it shouldn't be too hard to get one at any time of the year. I mean, it's free labor. Keep in mind many companies (especially more corporate places like studios and networks) will require that you receive college credit for your internship. Smaller production companies won't care.

As for the apartment, I was lucky enough to be set with an Oakwood apartment in college (many colleges put their students there, or in Park La Brea), and when I moved out here for good, my roommate was out here already and in charge of finding us a place. I remember standing at a dusty gas station, looking up at power lines that seemed to stretch forever against the cloudless Texas sky and saying sure, Sherman Oaks sounds nice. You can look online at home if you want to: Westside Rentals is the standard here in LA - it's not free, but Craigslist is slim pickins. But like jobs, good apartments get snapped up quickly too. You can peruse the listings anywhere, but it won't do you much good if you can't see what they look like, right? I've also blogged about the different neighborhoods in LA if you're wondering.

And some advice about the drive: Keep the music a little too loud and the AC a little too cold. It's easy to fall asleep in the flat states.

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grave cemetary said...

where is a good place to look at actual/properly formatted spec scripts? preferably something on the internet.


Jason A said...


Drew's Script O Rama is good:


Amanda said...

dave -
join the tvwriters networking email list and there is a nice collection of scripts in the files section:


Jim Cartwright said...

Dear Addie: It never hurts to look at that stuff ahead of time, although definately judging from my peers it seems like slim to none that you'll secure a job or interview or roommate from miles away. But at least you'll have an idea of where to look (what job sites, westside rentals and such for housing). I would say at a minimum have a good friend out here that knows you'll be crashing on their couch for at least a month. Having enough money is key, the more you have the longer you can look for work and sustain your unemployed self. Have enough money to pay for travel(getting out here and moving around LA), food, first month rent (500-800$ depending on your quality of living), and security deposit which is usually equal to one month's rent. Plus have security money or at least a zero balanced creidt card (credit card has saved my ass on many occassions).
My personal adventure started when I was randomly offered an apartment spot and on a whim moved out here from Maryland. I had no job nor tried to line one up. Once out here people recommended background work, which I did, and which was awesome. Doing BG work is great cause you get to explore the city, go on all the different studio lots, and really learn how set productions function. The hours can be super long but you want to be there that long to make that sweet overtime money (it only seems sweet cause you're poor). It paid my first month rent.
I also started doing tons of focus groups, my favorite being Gum Tasting (a whole hour of marking whether the gum still had flavor). You can find many of these postings on craigslist.
Well from there you talk to everyone you can, try and meet a lot of people and find out where the work is. Everyone out here talks about finding work so more often than not you're not immposing to ask if someone's place of business has any openings.
I now work a steady gig in a production Office, taking classes on screenwriting at UCLA extension, and having a pretty good time out here after one year of moving out to LA.

Monsterbeard said...

On the Drive: If you go the Southern route, stop in Flagstaff and visit the historic district. And if you've got time, you can go south from there through Oak Creek Canyon and visit the famous "Slide Rock." Just bring a bathing suit.

finds life hilarious said...

Yeah, I recommend just jumping in the car and driving out here. Ideally you should do it after you've saved up a few grand at least. You'll need to pay for a motel while you apartment hunt if you have nowhere to crash, and you'll need money for first/last month's rent and security deposit. Once you're here it should take you between 1 and 4 weeks to find a job, even if you have no qualifications to speak of.

I also highly recommend getting your hands on the UTA joblist while you're looking for your first job. That's where I got my first three jobs in town.

sallreen said...
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Elton A.R. Alwine said...

In a way, you're my hero Amanda. I tried to pull of something similar, moving to Chicago and heading to school - but I came back home to Baltimore before my third night.

Good for you. You give me hope...

Mery Raquel Vieira said...

Amanda you are the Gospel!