Frank Pasquine is an award-winning screenwriter, freelance writer, and Director of Social Media for New York Film Academy. He wrote up a great article on why it is important to live in Los Angeles if you want to write for TV or film.
It’s no secret that the majority of the films you see on television or the big screen have at some point gone through someone’s hands in Los Angeles. Given the power of the major studios, production companies, and talent agencies such as CAA, WME, and UTA, projects that have any hope of funding are typically packaged in Los Angeles. That’s just the nature of the business. You may argue that films are always being shot in New York, Canada, or wherever, but the players behind these productions are working out of LA.
First off, before you do anything, if you want to be a screenwriter, you must write a professionally polished script. No typos. No formatting errors. It must have a strong leading character, a strong story arch, great structure, and have that certain “X-factor.” But you know this already.
Now, you may have the best script in the world, but often it takes an A-List actor to attach him or herself in order for the project to move forward. Not to mention an experienced producing team, director, cinematographer, and so on. So, how do you get your script to the powers that be in the first place? Simple. You need a friend at one of these agencies or production companies. (Okay, maybe not so simple.) You’re not friends with anyone at one of these talent agencies or production companies? Make friends with one! And that means moving to Los Angeles.
Networking in Los Angeles is the most valuable tool you have in your screenwriting arsenal. After all, people want to work with people they come to know and associate with. If you live in Minnesota and have just as good as or perhaps an even better script than someone who lives in Los Angeles, who do you think will get an agent, manager, or producer’s attention first? Your query email has no shot against human interaction at some swanky Los Angeles party or restaurant.
Once you’ve made the move to Los Angeles and you have the perfect script and the right network of friends, write another perfect script. And while you’re at it, write another one. And throw in an original TV pilot to the mix. As the cliché goes, if you want to be a writer, you need to write everyday like a full-time job. That first script that finally gets you some attention will most likely only act as a calling card and not actually get made. So have two other scripts that are just as good to back it up. Keep throwing darts at the dartboard until something sticks. And never stop.
If you’re willing to dedicate years of sacrifice, many hours of writing a day, working crummy jobs to pay the bills, and countless rejection letters, that’s a good start. Even after you pay all of your dues in Los Angeles, there are no guarantees. As Tom Hanks once put it, “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
While you’re on your quest to become a working screenwriter, check out some of the great courses the New York Film Academy has to offer on screenwriting.
NYC Classes - http://www.nyfa.edu/screenwriting-school/
LA Classes - http://www.nyfa.edu/los-angeles/screenwriting-school/
Online Classses - http://www.nyfa.edu/online-screenwriting/
Good luck out there!