Two Years in LA, Three Years for 12pt, and Stepping Backwards


Time flies.

Two years ago I packed up everything I owned into a ’94 Honda Accord and drove 2,118 miles to California in pursuit of a job in the film industry. I had $800 in my pocket (half of which I spent on gas and a couple cheap hotels). I knew two people working in LA, I had a couch to sleep on, and I was determined to make this shit happen.

It’s been two years to the day since I arrived in LA. I got those jobs. Worked hard. Made friends. And I moved from PA, to Producer’s Assistant, to Producer on a daytime talk show. I still drive that ’94 Honda, but I’m no longer sleeping on a couch. I have now upgraded to bed status. And damn it feels good. But I don’t feel like I’ve arrived.

The other day I went to a screening for a movie I worked on last summer. My heart was pounding as the credits started to roll. Then I saw it. For the first time. My name, in the credits of a feature film, in a theater. It was an eye-opening experience. This is what I came out here for. This is the pay off. Watching the film I helped create. This is why I went to film school. This is why I drove to LA. This is why I am here. My mouth agape, a lightening bolt hit me in the face. “I have to get out of daytime TV.”

I hate stepping backwards. I am a producer now. I have that title. But daytime TV and feature film development are two completely different beasts. If I am going to jump over to feature world, I’m going to have to get an assistant job. But the longer I wait, the harder it will be. It needs to happen before I get too comfortable. Before I get a raise. So I have to step backwards. And I have to do it now.

I would rather make the jump and fail, or find out I hate it, than never do it all. If I don’t try I will regret it for the rest of my life. And if it’s something I want to do, I guess it’s not really a step backwards. Maybe in title, maybe in pay… but I’d be working where I feel I’m supposed to work. And what is happiness if not the feeling you’re working towards your goals.

So as turns 3 years old… this is where my adventure has taken me, and I’ve figured out where I need to go next.

11 Replies to “Two Years in LA, Three Years for 12pt, and Stepping Backwards”

  1. It’s a tough decision you face — taking a step back in the hope of eventually taking an even bigger step forward. But if the movies are where you want to be, there really isn’t any choice: you’ll have to make the leap of faith. You can always go back to TV if it turns out FeatureLand isn’t all you hoped it would be, or find another niche in the industry. But this Hollywood life is all about change, and you’re on the cusp of a big one.

    You’ve done well thus far — very well indeed — so put that in your pocket and make that leap.

    Good luck…

  2. I’m not a 1,000% fan of Sheryl Sandberg, but she did mention something in her book that stood out to me: success is not a ladder. It is a jungle gym. You rock on with your bad self and leave your day job as soon as you’ve got something promising lined up.

  3. I’m finding myself inadvertently climbing up the same wrong ladder and this post is helping me hold strong to my convictions as I say “no” to what would probably be a lucrative move. Thank you.

  4. Wow, I just came across your blog today, absolutely brilliant and very helpful!

    I have a question for you. I’m in Germany and lat night secured a position as PA (probably as an intern, though) on the set of a B-movie shot by an American director. Do you know whether what you wrote about PAs also holds true for B-movies not made in Hollywood? And more importantly: Now that I am on the crew, how can I be proactive without annoying everyone with asking, What can I do? What do you need me to do?
    Basically I’m wondering what is expected from me at this point. We’re shooting the teaser on August 31st 2013; and the feature film in May 2014, so there is still a bit of time left. Thanks already for replying!

  5. Thank you Jay! I appreciate the compliments.

    I’ve never worked out of the country, but I’m pretty sure PA’s or “runners” are basically the same wherever you are. I wouldn’t worry about having to ask people what to do. I’m sure you’ll be plenty busy. You’ll most likely be reporting directly to the AD’s. So, unless they tell you to help other departments, you’ll probably be taking direction from 1 or 2 people. If you’re working with a Production Assistant who knows what they’re doing, feel free to ask them for advice on set. Just always be there and work really hard. People notice.

  6. Thanks for replying! I already survived my first weekend as PA, which was the trailer shoot. I was the designated driver, so day one passed quickly with driving actors, make-up people, etc. to and from set 😉 Day two was a lot more relaxed and I even had time on my hands which I was able to spend observing the shooting process.
    There was no experienced PA on board, but I did what the AD and production manager told me, was quick on my feet and pro-active regarding problem solving… Now I’m probably allowed to help during pre-production as well 🙂 So that was a success!
    Thanks again for your helpful blog; I wouldn’t have fared so well without you!

  7. I spent many years working in theatre, film, and television. Every time i took a job just for money/security, or stayed for that reason, I regretted it. Every time I made a leap because it was more in alignment with my vision for what I wanted, it was the right choice.

    You are making the right choice.

    It’s not a step backwards. You are working your way around an obstacle.

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