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How to survive moving to LA to conquer Hollywood
Give up once in a while.
For 100 years, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people have moved their lives across the state, country, or world to come to Los Angeles and make their Hollywood dream come true. And most of them have no job, friends, or family when they get to LA.
This edition of Hollywood Scene 7 is written for those people.
If you have no job or support system when you get to LA, you’ll soon find yourself fighting the same Demon that people just like you have fought for the last 100 years.
And that is true whether you’re an actor, a writer, a stunt coordinator, a composer, a director, a production assistant, a lawyer, an executive, or whatever ... it’s all the same journey. And ultimately, that journey involves fighting the same Demon.
And that Demon is fear. But let me be clear here.
The Demon you must face is NOT the fear of failing an audition. Nor the fear of “not” getting that dream job for a while. I know you. You showed up to LA prepared to hear 500 people say no to you before lunch and not give a rat’s ass. You never succumb to rejection. Because if you were the type that gives up on a Hollywood dream, you would still be showcasing excellence in Omaha community theater, no?
AND — it is NOT the fear of failing to work hard enough - you already have the work ethic of Jerry Rice. You never stop working or talking about your work, and everything you do is in pursuit of a Hollywood goal, including social media. That’s how and why you moved to LA. You’re here to fucking conquer Hollywood, and you will not do anything else. full stop.
NARRATOR: So, what’s the problem? Where is this Demon?
The Demon is that lurking behind your incredible heart of a lion, that undeniable work ethic of a 49ers pro bowl receiver, and the bravado of 100% of everybody who storms into LA as you did, is the fear that you will NEVER get your chance in Hollywood. That you will NEVER see your screenplay on the screen, that you will NEVER have a lead role, that you will NEVER work for Disney etc etc etc.
Whatever your Hollywood dream is — insert it here — there is a possibility that it will not happen. Maybe your dream probably will not happen, statistically speaking.
Let’s imagine it will not. Rut-roh.
HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO 6
THINK ABOUT IT — Take any one of the above-described individuals who moved to LA and put their life on the line for Hollywood — actor, writer, animator, director … anybody.
Now imagine sitting them down, for example — and telling them we determined with 100% scientific accuracy (stay with me, pretend) …. there is ZERO chance you will ever be in a movie in Hollywood. And by the way, because of [insert college story] no director will ever hire you to do anything. Game over.
[pretend it is possible to definitely tell someone their Hollywood dream is over. You, for example. Just pretend YOU got that news.]
Now — you know that dark emotion, that sinking feeling in your stomach that would hit in the .3 milliseconds immediately after you got the news — THAT is the Demon lurking behind the bravado of everyone who comes to Hollywood.
That feeling that …. it’s never going to happen.
Very very very very very very very people in Hollywood “never” experience that dark and lonely moment.
THE BIG PROBLEM
ISSUE A - Worrying about failure in Hollywood (or anything else) is a self-fulfilling prophecy. A recipe for disaster.
ISSUE B - Telling you someone who is 7,000 levels beyond passionate about a Hollywood dream “not” to worry about failing is ridiculous and solves nothing. Allowing the pressure to build over time might even set the stage for a future mental breakdown. bad plan.
THE SOLUTION TO SUCCESS - GIVE UP ONCE IN A WHILE
This will sound absolutely ridiculous to the majority of readers, especially if you didn’t just move to LA for a Hollywood career. It’s OK. But it works.
Concept #1 - You MUST treat “inventing” a career in Hollywood as a marathon, not a sprint. Success may come suddenly — anything can happen on any day in Hollywood — but you have to mentally survive the journey if it takes time. You can not simply let the stress of failure build and build and build. At best, it’s not fun and counter-productive.
LIFE — RED ALERT?
If you find yourself “not” making progress in Hollywood for a few years, and the Doom and Pressure suddenly start to get to you, you are stressed, maybe drinking or smoking too much, maybe you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, maybe there is family stress in the mix, you might melt down ….
Here’s a suggested game plan to stay on your feet.
STEP 1 - GIVE UP. QUIT. FAIL.
Trust me on this. First, check out of Hollywood right now. Quit.
Take whatever script that you’re working on and throw it in the garbage. Cancel all upcoming auditions and job interviews. Stop asking people for advice, stop going to stupid seminars, and stop posting goofy inspirational quotes online. Give up for now. Accept that you failed. Make a fucking sign if you need to convince yourself. Surrender. Quit. Leave. Exit stage left. Fuck Hollywood. Ciao.
STEP 2 - FORGIVE YOURSELF
Hollywood is out. And you’re still here. The universe did not end.
Now, forgive yourself. Smile. It’s all going to be fine.
Now, take a week or three out of your life, relax, have fun, and do NOT think of yourself as an “actor” or whatever you were trying to do. That’s over. Enjoy your life. Play video games, read a book, watch movies, go to Italy, hang out with your cat Pinky. Whatever. Do not think about anything related to your career in Hollywood during this time, it’s over. You failed and quit. Who cares.
(Pinky the cat)
STEP 3 - REGROUP AND SUCCEED
When the time is right, and only you will know when — ease back into the Hollywood game. Line up one audition. Send out a job application. etc etc Ramp up slowly but surely. But do not plug and play back into your old plan, do not get back on the hamster wheel. This is not Groundhog Day, the movie.
This is life. You failed and quit, now you’re back and happy.
Improve and move on.
Here’s your new sign.
THE GOOD NEWS — By completely mentally checking out of Hollywood in every way, exactly as I described above, by literally quitting on yourself and Hollywood for a while (which you never ever do, based on your type A+++++++ personality) — you will have finally freed yourself from a great deal of pressure and stress, and the creative and inspirational side of “you” will return. Always.
Now, when you sit down to think about your Hollywood career plan, I can guarantee you with 100% certainty, that your Hollywood plan is going to be different and improved, in ways you could never have seen before, and you’re going to move forward faster than you were doing before. You’ll see.
Good luck, my friends!