2. Los Angeles, California
The City of Angels is still the de facto magnet for aspiring film professionals, and the reason why bears repeating: It’s a place where all levels of moviemaking take place on a daily basis, from shows with the most infinitesimal of microbudgets to the most expensive technological spectacles. Wherever your interests lie, the infrastructure is in place to pursue that.
No, it’s not all sunshine: The cost of living in Los Angeles is 44 percent higher than the national average. And all that Hollywood “glamour” can be accompanied by competition not only for locations (FilmL.A., the city’s film commission, is actively working on streamlining the permitting process because of the number of jurisdictions involved), but also to break through and find steady work.
And between employments it’s possible to rub shoulders with Academy members on your journey to joining their ranks. One of LA’s pleasures is enjoying the city’s unbeatable cinephile offerings, with world-class film festivals like AFI Fest, the Los Angeles Film Festival, and Outfest; numerous independent theaters like the Nuart, Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Theater, Cinefamily, American Cinematheque at the Aero and the Egyptian; and outdoor screenings to last you all summer—like Cinespia’s series held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s a real challenge to be bored in L.A., and we haven’t even mentioned the zeitgeisty art, music, food, and fashion scenes in this modern metropolis. Just make sure you have a car (and then be prepared to spend hours in it).
The key for survival as an independent in L.A. is persistence and being open to options you may not have considered (and no, we don’t mean of the Dirk Diggler variety). Actress Hope Levy tells her story of finding modest success in Tinseltown. She had an extensive background in theatre and bit parts in television, but she hadn’t quite landed yet. A new path opened when she went to an audition for an animated project at HBO called The Caveman.
“It was my first voice-over. It was with Tim Curry and Charlie Adler,” she said. “I don’t think it even aired, but it gave me the incentive to say, ‘Wow, maybe I could work in animation.’” Levy took several classes in voice work and continued to audition for live action, securing parts on Knott’s Landing, Party of Five and General Hospital, and steady work in animation with roles on shows such as Rugrats, The Simpsons, and dozens of video games.