To all the young men and women who arrive in Hollywood looking for stardom, this post is for you.
It’s not the very thorough advice I give my students at UCLA nor is it as involved as the conversations I have with young actors I meet daily at coffee shops all over Hollywood.
I don’t want to piss on your dreams, I merely want to help a legion of unprepared youngsters before they arrive in California. To help them avoid the wholly avoidable traps so many young people fall into when they arrive in Los Angeles expecting to ‘make it’ in the film industry.
Firstly, listen to this. How ever brave you may think you are, Hollywood is not for the fainthearted nor for the under-prepared.
Remember these two important words: INDUSTRY and BUSINESS.
The youngsters who make it Hollywood, those who get to make movies (of any kind) are naturally inclined businessmen and businesswomen. These serious men and women want to do business with the like minded and make it their business to sort out the winners from the losers.
Business. Money. Industry.
Young film maker/actor/actress there are a few things you urgently need to know:
Firstly, if you live outside of the greater LA area don’t even think about packing your bags and coming here unless you are:
a) Invited by a reputable agent/manager because you have ‘made it’ else where.
b) You have thoroughly researched your move to Hollywood before you arrive.
Too many people arrive in LA thinking that life is just one long episode of Entourage punctuated by Entertainment Tonight type red carpet appearances. They believe that they will be ‘discovered’ in an instantaneous ‘America’s Got Talent’ kind of way and become household names within a year of moving into what is one of the most heartless cities in the whole world.
Remember this: You Will Not Be Discovered.
Let me say again: Don’t come to LA and expect to be ‘discovered’. It won’t happen.
Oh, actually, you will be discovered but not by the people you expect to be ‘discovered’ by or in a way you’ll be writing home to mother any time soon. It is sadly true that for every young, good-looking boy and girl who arrives in Hollywood there is a predator waiting to fuck you. who will mercilessly lie and cheat you out of your integrity and your virginity.
This post, I hope, will help you keep your dignity and your virginity intact.
These perfectly charming predators (with fabulously important jobs) will show you their huge houses, take you to premieres and parties but the outcome is always the same: Another suitcase in another hall.
Prepared to be totally washed up in no time at all if you fuck anyone who promises you anything. Even people who should know better end up having clandestine dinners with well-known married producers discussing projects that will never, ever happen.
Of course there are some aspiring actors/actresses who think that blowing the occasional producer in their hot tub is a perfectly reasonable trade. Indeed, they may think that it is the driving force behind Hollywood’s star making machine.
They site Marilyn Monroe as the archetypal ‘career for sex’ success story.
This reciprocal arrangement is both rare and undignified. It seldom leads to anything other than STDs and a stint in the rooms of AA.
If you feel you have acting talent… think about taking acting classes before you get to Hollywood. Any advantage you have over the thousands of willing hopefuls who arrive in LA everyday will get you closer to your goal. If, say, Brad Pitt is your hero, study his life and how he got to where he is today.
READ BETWEEN THE LINES!
This information will help you decide if Hollywood may work for you.
If you genuinely want to be an actor or actress be sure, before you get here, that you have researched the industry you want to be part of. Read these trade papers/web sites: Variety , The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline Hollywood. From these publications you will learn everything you need to know about Hollywood, the way it works, what is being made and where.
Get yourself a copy of The Hollywood Creative Directory and read it.
If you want to be a film actor research the directors you like, find out who produced their films, the casting directors who cast them and what they are doing next.
If you want to be a TV actor learn the names of all the casting directors at all the Networks.
See how you can get close to the people you want to do business with.
My low budget film making students at UCLA laugh at me when I tell them to precision bomb when making decisions about their careers. Carpet-bombing is expensive, risky and often misses the mark.
(This applies only to those of you who have demonstrable talent.)
I tell actors to print 500 head shots and 500 resumé, buy 500 envelopes and 500 stamps. Address them to all the usual film industry suspects. Reserve all but ten. Take the 490 stamped and addressed head shots and resumé and tear them into tiny pieces and put directly into the trash.
At least you get the satisfaction of throwing them away rather than some bored assistant.
With the ten reserved head shots and resumé take them directly to the industry people you want to do business with.
It works, it really does.
I used to say to actors, “Never take no for an answer.” I don’t tell them that any more.
I reserve that advice for directors and producers.
Remember, actors/directors, you are the only asset at the company you are about to create in your own name. To make your dream come true requires tenacity, an encyclopedic knowledge of the film industry and a keen sense of direction.
Life in LA can be very lonely. You may be surrounded by many ‘friends’ but you will not be able to trust any one of them. Nobody but you wants you to succeed in Hollywood.
If you have been kicking around LA for a year or so waiting tables, don’t have an agent or a manager and have not been seriously considered for any sort of acting role in a legitimate film production: go home.
Most roles being cast in Hollywood today are for actors between the ages of 35-45 years old. Go home have a decent life… then, if you are still hankering after Hollywood, return when you are 35.
Frankly, you will have more chance of making it then.