I’m new to LA – WTF am I supposed to be doing with myself?
Here is a little list that might help those indie filmmakers who are new to Los Angeles, or even just coming here to visit, and a nice little reminder for those of us who have forgotten WTF to do with this city:
- Everyone says they hate LA, it’s boring, stop saying it, we don’t care anymore. (We secretly hate things about it too.)
- You need to be out, a lot. (Leave your couch.)
- You need to be ready to get a job if someone offers it to you. (Facebook friend contacts asap and have stuff to send them.)
- You need to be going to as many screenings as you can get out to.
- You need to join Film Independent asap and go to all their events. (Call Evan Ward-Henninger in membership asap.)
- You need to be making films constantly.
- You need to be writing constantly or coming up with new ideas.
- You need good titles.
- You need to take people up on their offers (well most of them anyway).
- You need to go where you’re invited. (That means actually going, not just saying you’re going.)
- You need to take care of yourself, so you look like you know how to take care of stuff.
- If you say you’re going to do something, you actually have to do it. Writing a script, write that script. Making a movie, make that movie. People get tired very quickly of people who just say they’re doing something and never do any of it.
- You need to stop being a dick.
- Again, stop talking about how much you hate LA.
- You need to take care of your car, if your car looks like s**t why would someone give you 2 million dollars to take care of their s**t?
- You need a mentor.
- You need to say thank you.
- You need to know when someone is doing you a favor how much of a favor it actually is.
- If you don’t know, ask your friends, if they don’t know, don’t ask them again.
- You need to do lots of favors for everyone you can, then lots of people will do favors for you.
- You need to not care if people don’t return favors – people will see that you do everyone favors anyway.
- You don’t need to lie to get jobs, but you don’t need to talk so much about all the times you’ve been fired.
- Meet your deadlines, and if you’re not going to meet them don’t be such a dick about it.
- Try and remember peoples names – I suck at this. I met Ashley Judd before she was Ashley Judd and she remembered everyone’s names 4 hours later after being introduced to like 15 people at once. No wonder she ended up being Ashley Judd.
- Keep your drinking and drugging to a minimum and out of public view.
- Stop sleeping with everyone. (Unless they’re George Clooney, you know the Clooney Clause.)
- Someone very close to me said last year that, “it is just as easy to fall in love with someone who has a jet and a Bentley as it is to fall in love with someone who has a beat up Chevy.” I say this is bullshit and disgusting. Date who you love, even if they don’t know Ewan McGregor yet.
- Sunblock. Daily.
- Stop telling everyone about every famous person you’ve ever met in your life or run into. (I ran into Chris Nolan and Emma Thomas last night, btw.)
- Go to every panel and class you can get into.
- Talk to people on panels, then Facebook friend them or follow them on twitter.
- Don’t ask dumb questions at panels, you don’t want to stand out that badly.
- Make more movies.
- Shut up, you love LA, you know it.
See you at that Starbucks over by that other Starbucks!
Heidi Van Lier is a filmmaker living in Los Angeles. She has directed 3 feature films, with another one on the way. Her first film, Chi Girl, won the Slamdance Film Festival in 1999. She has written a film school textbook called The Indie Film Rule Book, available on Amazon.com. She has been a programmer for the Slamdance Film Festival, and on juries and panels at countless festivals around the country. She has an expensive 8-year-old daughter, send help.