Here’s a question a lot of people ask: Do I need to live in L.A. to be successful in the film business?
The simple answer is no. Or, maybe. Well, probably so. Like everything else in life, it just depends. On what? Lots of things. (Thanks, Dave-o. Can you be any more friggin’ vague?)
There are numerous factors as to a decision to being in L.A. (money and time being the biggest two). But even if you have those, do you need to spend them here? The best question for that is: What do you want to do?
If you’re looking to make local commercials, documentaries or that one indie you’ve been working on for eight years then, no. It’s probably not necessary to be in L.A. very often.
Even if your ambition is to make an indie here and there, then living in L.A. is not necessary. But being in L.A. regularly can make a lot of difference. And thus, in my opinion, is necessary. Many moviemakers live in Austin, Toronto, Vancouver… all over. And of course New York. The key is, the vast majority of the film/TV deals are made in L.A. So you can make your flick wherever, but if you need major attachments or distribution, then ya just gotta be in L.A. regularly.
Let me give you an example. For one of the BlueRun Productions films, I’m looking to cast a very well known ex-TV star. He and I have been talking on the phone for several months now, but then he disappeared (off to a set overseas). I’ve been mildly frustrated because I need to talk with him… but I’ll wait on his return. (What’s that? Talk to his agent you say? You know me and agents.)
Anyway, the other day I’m in the FedEx/Kinkos on Riverside, in Burbank, printing some stuff. As I sit there in the computer kiosk, the guy next to me is on his phone, getting really upset because of his inability to get in touch with that very same actor. After he finished the call and caught his breath, he and I started talking. Before you knew it we’d shared some project ideas and made a new professional connection (the currency in this town). What will come of it? Probably nothing. But you just never know, and that’s the point. So what are the odds of that happening in a Spokane FedEx/Kinkos? Very slim.
You can see my point. There’s no need to live and die in L.A. But you ‘ve got to be able to be here when the need arises. And in the between times, you need to make the need arise. Remember the adage that holds as true today as it did 1,000 years ago: To be victorious in battle, you must put “boots on the ground.” You have to be there to hold that territory, to really advance further.
David Marlett is a writer and director currently producing and directing the feature film, Of Kings & Cowboys. Marlett’s desire to direct and control his own work led him to create BlueRun Productions in 2007. He’s been acting for most of his life, and is also a non-practicing (“recovering”) attorney and CPA, with 20-plus years experience consulting and managing a wide assortment of companies in industries spanning from healthcare to entertainment. The Spring 2009 issue features his latest installment of his print column, Marlett & Me, with this sister blog on MovieMaker.com.