Category Archives: Los Angeles

READER FOLLOW-UP — ANGRY AT THE SYSTEM?

Javier had a question on my last angry rant.

This may come off as petty, but honestly, are you angry about taking the road to get where you are?

This comes up every so often with my fellow PAs: When you get an assistant, will you get a charge out of putting them through the same? Or do you want to re-pave the path, so to speak? I don’t mean baby-ing or hand holding.

Thanks for the question —

I wouldn’t say I am necessarily angry about the road it takes to move up. I worked with a lot of great people, and there is camaraderie in sludging through the trenches with your fellow PAs. You will make friends in those tough times that will hopefully pull you through the rest of your career.

Are there bitter people who abuse the system by abusing PAs, simply because “they paid their dues, and now it’s your time” ? Of course there are — but honestly, I learned the most from some of those guys.

I don’t think I will ever “abuse” my future assistants (if I’m lucky enough to need an assistant someday). I don’t think I would get a “charge” out of it. But I will understand that the system works the way it does because it needs to. The film/tv industry is VERY competitive, and as ALL competitive jobs, you need a system where the best of the best rise to the top.  And the only way the best rise to the top is by NOT making it easy for them. Those who conquer and overcome will succeed.  If you recognize talent — foster it. But if you see someone who can’t handle the heat — you can’t make it easy for them, because then you’re not helping anyone.  You’re not helping them, and you’re not helping the production.

My previous rant was not aimed at the system — it was aimed at Film School students who don’t want to put in the work. Or who don’t understand what they’re in for. Students who think they can easily get a job. I am trying to HELP THEM before they waste all their money on a worthless degree and then find out no one is jumping at the opportunity to give them a job. That in reality, they’re a dime a dozen and just getting a simple PA job is super hard. Even though my rant came out overly harsh, I am TRYING TO HELP. If you’re a film student, and not willing to put in the work to get the job, you need to change your degree. For your own sake. For you future family’s sake.

I hope this answered your question!

-12pt

How do You Get Work in the Film Industry? You Have to Fucking WORK.

There is a symptom that plagues film school students and those who want to work in the film industry. I know this because I’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of film students. That vast majority of them don’t want to work. They don’t want to start at the bottom and crawl their way to the top. They want to make art. Let me tell you something, you want-to-be-filmmakers —

YOU ARE GOING TO FAIL. YOU. YES. YOU.

You’re going to graduate film school and end up switching careers with thousands of dollars in student debt, or work at a local TV station making shitty commercials, or film weddings for the rest of your life. And that’s no one’s fault but yours.

How do you not fail? You work you fucking ass off, that’s how.

I have not made it. Far from it. But I’m a lot further along than the lot of you. And you probably want to be where I am right now. I work for a “big-time” guy in the industry. I frequent film sets during production and have the occasional chat with a celebrity. My scripts are being read “around town”, and I have representation courting me. This is shit I DREAMED about having 7 years ago when I started this blog. I’m STILL not happy with where I am, but that’s another story. THIS story is about how none of this is going to happen to you because you’re a lazy piece of shit.

If you want to work in this industry, you have to be willing to work 18 hours days 6 days a week for minimum wage with an Assistant Director yelling at you over the walkie in front of the entire crew right after you’ve spent the last 2 hours picking up dog shit and used condoms off the side of the road for the art department at 6 in the fucking morning.

If you want to work in this industry, you have to be willing to leave EVERYTHING behind and move to Los Angeles with no money and sleep on a strangers couch that you met on craigslist who smokes weed every day and watches TV until 1 am not letting you get any sleep before you have to wake up at 4am to get to pre-call on set in the middle of sun valley by 6am.

If you want to work in this industry, you have to leave every comfort you know, and jump headfirst into a chaotic environment using equipment you’ve never used before for people you’ve never met before, while all the time trying to prove that you’re the hardest worker in the world so that maybe they will hire you again for the next job.

If you want to work in this industry, you need to be meeting people and spending more time looking for work than actually working because you need to have a job lined up when the current job your working is over.

And then, MAYBE, after you’ve done all this for a few years and find a steady job, you will be able to direct enough shorts or write enough screenplays in your “free time” to get noticed and actually do the shit you really want to be doing out here.

If you’re not willing to do any of this stuff. Then do everyone already working in LA a favor and  GTFO of here so that our commute on these god-forsaken highways is minus one car.

Now get off your lazy piece of shit ass and go do something.

-12pt

Reader Question: How to Get A Job With No Work Experience

Another Question — man, we’re blowing through them today.

So far your website has been extremely helpful and I am grateful. But I would like to know what to do with my resume if I’ve never worked in the film industry beyond student films? My previous work history is in retail (not by choice, it’s something I got stuck in when I was studying and now I’m finding it difficult to get out & I can’t afford to move literally)
You said that no one cares about previous work history outside the film industry. I have none. No one cares about my student films (the only filmmaking experience I have thus far). But you also said that anyone can be a PA, that you don’t need to go to film school to become one, it’s an entry level position. What can you recommend I do to make myself employable by actual production companies with no industry experience and what I can do with limited sparkle on my resume?

Yes. I know it’s confusing and frustrating and irritating. It’s that age-old catch 22. You need work experience to get the job, but you need the job to get work experience. That’s why breaking in is so hard. The answer you’re looking for is one you don’t want to hear.

Know someone.

And if you don’t know anyone. Find someone to know.

When I came out to LA I knew one person out here and knew OF one person out here. That one person I knew of was a friend’s sister who happened to be working in photo shoots. She was able to get me an unpaid job on a photo shoot where I kicked ass and met people in the art department. I then used those contacts to get paid PA work from the art people I met — and so on.

The person I knew OF happened to be someone who went to my film school that I had literally never talked to or met in my life. But I got their number from another person and cold called them. “Hey, it’s so and so. I went to your film school. I’m out in LA now. If there is any way you can get me a PA job it would be really helpful. Lets meet for coffee. I’ll buy.” Etc — etc.  That guy got me a couple shitty PA jobs and some unpaid jobs that eventually — almost 5 years later — has networked me into the job I have now. Yes, I can track the job I have now all the way back to that first job the dude I didn’t even know got me.

You have to get someone to give you a chance. And to do that, you have to find someone who is already out in LA working with connections.

Another story —  I walk into a bar in LA and end up talking to two other guys who work in the industry. Turns out one of them works in production for music videos. I tell them I’m a PA looking for work. We exchange numbers — go our separate ways — a few months later I get a call from someone saying I was recommended for a music video shoot. Turns out it was that guy I met at the bar.

Meet people. Know people.

Does your cousin have a friend whose sister has a friend whose uncle is working in LA? Find them and meet them and ask them for a job.

12pt.

Reader Question – Job Decisions

Hello, hope this Christmas season is treating you well! Back when I was working as a production assistant — Christmas was the worst. I was stuck out in California away from my family with nowhere to go. And guess what, the ENTIRE FUCKING INDUSTRY basically grinds to a halt. Which means no work. Which means no money. Which means… blegh.  So, I feel for you PAs out there. I really do. Hopefully you were able to grab enough work over the past few months to tide you over.

One thing I tried to do every year was find a producer or someone who needed house-sitting over the holidays. A good way to make a little cash over Christmas break. Especially if you’re not going home to visit family or something. But if you CAN go home on your parents dime. DO IT! Free food = the best food when you’re poor.

Anyway — here is a reader question I found in my inbox recently.

Hey, just found your blog and absolutely love it! Anyway I have a big question… I was hired almost 2 months ago at an Agency – I’m finally starting to get everything down and about to hit 2 weeks paid vacation for the holidays. They’ve trained me from being fresh out of college and Pilot season is around the corner. I’m also on REDACTED IMPORTANT PERSON’S desk, which is pretty awesome. The thing is I’ve got a potential job opp for doing what I really want to do, gain experience as a PA on a show. Do I cut and run knowing this opportunity is rare or should I tough it out at the Agency to prevent burning this bridge?
Thanks!

Okay. My first response is DON’T FUCKING LEAVE YOUR JOB. WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY! YOU’RE WORKING A SECURE JOB THAT GIVES YOU PAID, I REPEAT, P-A-I-D, VACATIONS AND YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT LEAVING TO BECOME A SET PA? WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK!?

Okay — now with that out-of-the-way.

What you should be asking yourself is — what is your end goal? Do you want to be an agent? Or do you want to work in production? If you’re not sure what you want to do — maybe talk to some current PAs about production and see if it’s something you really want to do. Or better yet — dip your toes in by offering to work as a PA for free one day — A day that you don’t have to be at your agency job  — just as extra help to get some set experience.

The thing is — Being a PA sucks. There are some (crazy) people out there that actually love being a PA. But most of those people want to become ADs or coordinators. I admit — I REALLY enjoyed being a PA for the first year I moved to LA. But after the initial HOLY SHIT I’M WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY FOR REAL wears off — you will realize you’re just a slave at the bottom of a very long totem pole.  You’re a slave at the bottom with the job you have now, but YOU’RE a slave with PAID vacations. Do you get health insurance at your job as well? — because holy Christ if you do DON’T LEAVE.

Every job in the industry is really hard to get — even the one you have. Working a desk at an agency is super competitive. So if you have ANY desire to become an agent — or hell — even a producer. I would 100% stay at the job you have and milk all the contacts and relationships out of it that you can. PA jobs will come and go. The worst thing (and the most likely thing) to come out of leaving you job for this PA job is — you take the PA job. It lasts what? A few months? Half a year at best? And then you decide you don’t like it. And when the show is over — so is your job. And guess what — there is a new girl sitting at the desk job you used to have. So you’re fucked outta luck, kiddo.

But honestly, if becoming a Set PA is 100% your hearts desire — do it. I just want you to know the risks you’re taking.

END NOTE:

I assume you’re talking about a set pa position, but my reply applies to all PA positions. Except maybe a writer’s PA position. If you want to be a writer and a writer’s PA position becomes available 100% take it.

It All Goes Through Los Angeles

LA

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 cliche 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, €œIf 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!

HELLO FEBRUARY

Forgive this momentary lack of pessimism that so fittingly has glazed this blog all these years. Happiness just happens to be bubbling out of me right now. It’s disgusting. I know. I’m a disgusting person right now. You have no idea. It’s horrible.

Where to start?  This year has been fucking amazing.

THE BOOKS:  I am supposed to read 15 books this year. So far I’ve read 1. I’m kind of behind already. I need to get on that. I have to finish one by the end of this month. It’s going to be hard. But I can do it. I believe in me. Maybe I’ll finally finish book 4 of Game of Thrones.

THE MOVE: I’m moving into a new place downtown. This has me excited. Also kind of nervous. There are crazy people downtown, and the streets smell like ass piss. BUT there are also amazing things about downtown, like not having to drive anywhere. And EVERYTHING delivers. Seriously… we can have a bottle of wine delivered to our door if we want. Restaurants and bars a few blocks from my house. We’re getting Amazon Fresh so that we can get groceries delivered.  I can’t wait. We’re in a loft. And it’s beautiful. I’m sure I’ll still have a lot to complain about. Like noisy neighbors and homeless people shitting on my doorstep. Also we don’t get internet hooked up for a week because FUCKING LA CABLE COMPANIES SUCK DONKEY DICKS ALL DAY — so I’ll have plenty of time to hit my February reading quota.

THE JOB: Has been going great. Learning a lot. I am really enjoying it here and actually look forward to going to work every day. My employers are all amazing people. It’s been a good thing. It takes me an hour in bumper to bumper traffic on the 10 to get to work every morning… and I still look forward to Monday’s. I’m insane.

THE MONEY: I think I’m saving? Either that or I have grand illusions of saving money. I’m not actually getting into the saving saving part yet… I’m still in the slowly pay off my debts phase. Also this move is taking a lot of my money. But… i will work harder on not spending a dime I don’t need to.  I haven’t bought any shoes this year… so that’s saving… right?

THE GIRL: Miss Orlando came to LA for a 5 day visit and it was absolute perfection. She’s moving here to go to school in a few months and this is probably the real root of all my disgusting happiness. We are so gross. Like… if I saw us walking down the street I would be like… eww. That’s how happy we are. It’s seriously disgusting.

THE WRITING: Writing has gone really slow the past few weeks because GIRL and MOVE… but I am so ready to buckle down. I’m halfway through the 2nd round of rewrites and the script is shaping up beautifully. I think after this there will be just one quick touch-up and then I can send it off for notes! So exciting.

ALSO — some places I’ve eaten recently in LA.

Sugarfish – Some fucking fantastic sushi. It was like butter. Just melted on my tongue. It was so fucking good. You have to go. They have a few locations around LA. We got the NOZAWA TRUST ME for only $35. You get like… 9 different items brought to your table one by one. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Casual atmosphere with fancy food.

Westside Tavern – This has been one of my favorite places for a long time. They have great drinks. I recommend the Old Fashionable. They also have a killer Mac and Cheese, a fantastic Calamari, and right now one of their specials is a tuna Poke that is absolutely to die for. They used to have a braised short rib that was orgasmic, I don’t think it’s on their Feb menu. Their flat breads are always amazing. They have a chicken liver mousse — which if you’re daring is so fucking delicious. The humus is so good. Basically everything you have here is so good. The atmosphere is great. Try and grab a table by the window for some people watching. Good for a group, work meeting, or a date.

Laurel Tavern – This place is heaven to me. I used to live near it and it’s been my favorite pub ever since.  A gastropub with an amazing drink selection and even better food. The Pork Belly Skewers literally melt into cream in your mouth. The Steamed Pei Mussels are buttery — dip the toast into the broth and die. The fries are so good. And if you really want to just throw up utter satisfaction all over the place — grab an order of chorizo sliders. Fucking Killer. Wash it all down with a great beer and you won’t be able to get out of your chair.  They also have great burgers. And if you’re not that hungry get their pretzel. So soft — a great snack with a beer.  They recently revamped their whole menu so there are a lot of new items I haven’t tried yet.

Lemon Poppy Kitchen – Some of the most fantastic breakfast food you will ever have. They have curried breakfast potatoes with two eggs on top. It’s … I’m getting too excited. I can’t take it. Everything at the place is amazing. It’s in the middle of nowhere in a ghetto shopping center and it’s seriously the best. It’s always packed and you’ll have to wait for seating most of the time. But it’s worth it. So worth it. Really good for a weekend brunch. I really want the owners to revamp the place. It’s too small and shitty for such good food.

800 Degrees Pizza – Really Great Pizza. Hated the atmosphere. There is no assigned seating and you walk past the make line to order. It’s like an upscale Subway for Pizza. But this causes a ton of crazy people to start fighting over seating. And if you read this blog, you know I pretty much hate people.  Way too chaotic for me. But the pizza was really good — so at least they have that going for them. Don’t know if I’ll return.

Duck Dive Gastropub – This is a little cool spot in Malibu. Nothing fancy near the beach… it’s in a little shopping center. They open right before lunch, so you can go to the coffee shop next door and get a latte and then browse a little bookstore nearby (which contains some epically old and rare books) and then head over to Duck Dive for a nice lunch. They have a really good mac and cheese and their fries are amazing. We got the taco’s which were okay… nothing to write home about. I’ve had their lentil burger before. It was tasty as far as lentil burgers go. I would go again just to try out more of their menu. Not ready to fall in love with it — but a good casual lunch spot if you’re in Malibu.  Their bartenders and wait staff were very nice people. Great service.

There you go! Try out some new places to eat! And if there is somewhere you would like me to try in LA — PLEASE TELL ME. I fucking love eating.

Why I Love LA #1: The Food

rickys_lg

LA gets a lot of shit for a lot of different reasons. Some people love it. Some people hate it. Some people love to hate it but really love it.

I’m sure some of the first things that come to mind when someone says “LA” is traffic and crime. Well, first off, according to this article, LA has dropped in crime for the 10th year in a row. I’m not going to heavily research the facts in that article, but I’m trusting it has some validity. So there you have it… LA’s not that dangerous. As for the traffic… yeah, it’s fucking horrible — don’t let it get you down.

This place only started to grow on me in the last 6 months. For a long time I felt this town was trying its hardest to shit on me. Coming from a small town my whole life — LA was intimidating to say the least. I moved here with basically nothing. Survival mode. But I feel I’m settling in. And I really don’t see myself living anywhere else. I’m starting to love it. It’s beginning to feel like home.

One reason I love LA is because of the food. Some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life comes from this town. I’m not going to go touting that LA is the best place in the world to eat — because I haven’t lived in that many places — but this guy says it pretty well.

The Hungry Metropolis

Yeah, that post was written 4 years ago. But it still holds up.  Or take this post written this past year, highlighting our very own Chef Roi Choi.

Why Los Angeles Is the Best Food Town in America

Did I read both of those articles all the way through? Hell no. But I have eaten in this town. And coming from living somewhere with nothing but chain restaurants… I love eating in LA.

You like burgers? LA has some amazing ones — Including The Office Burger — which finds itself on many lists of the best burgers in America. Just don’t ask for ketchup. They will not give it to you. I promise.

You like Tacos? In this slideshow of the 35 best taco’s in America, at least 6 of them are in Los Angeles. Including their #1 : Ricky’s Fish Tacos.

How about Sushi? I’ve had sushi at 3 or 4 places in LA and they were all amazing. This article puts the top 2 hottest sushi restaurants in America right here in LA. I haven’t been to either — but you better bet I’m going to Sugarfish sometime in the next month.

Who says you can’t get a good pizza in LA? According to this article you can. Yeah… it’s not walk out of your apartment and grab an amazing New York Slice — I mean, it’s LA, of course we’re not going to compete with NY Pizza — no one can. But Pizzeria Mozza is making top 10 lists… so I say we’re doing okay.

Have you heard of Food Trucks? LA is the OG of the food truck scene. Some cities might have caught the trend with style — but we did it first. And LA still has a HOST of food trucks that will cook you up whatever you can think of.

No matter what food you like, you will find somewhere in LA that serves it — and they’ll probably serve it well. We may not top all the charts when it comes to dining, but it’s still a great city for a foodie. Four years ago Esquire put us at #5. Who knows where we are now.  In Esquire’s 21 best new restaurants of 2013 – LA has 3 of them (Marina Del Ray is still LA).

So there you have it. Come to LA and eat a lot of food.