Ah Hollywood, the land of the hopes and dreams for many an entertainer. As so many entertain the idea of relocating their life to the land of milk and honey, we must ask ourselves, is this the right career move or not? This is a question of so many aspiring actors. Let us endeavor to indulge ourselves in this pursuit of answers, food, fun and funkery. Ok, maybe simply share some ideas…lol
First, and for an interesting part, a bit of fun and brief history. Around 1853 what stood where Hollywood of today exists was a single adobe hut with yet no name of Hollywood. Mostly agriculture and farming land this area thrived through to the mid 1870’s with no added population. Then came along Harvey Henderson Wilcox and his wife Daeida who purchased 160 acres outside of LA to begin their Ranch. No, this would not be the Harvey of the Harvey House Hotels that sprawled the west in the 1880’s. That would be Fred Harvey. Many of his Hotels are refurbished and still exist to this day. Wonderful places to visit as well. Ok, pulling my ever-wondering thoughts back to Hollywood…. So, Harvey Wilcox and Daeida purchase this Ranchland I am guessing to start a Ranch? It seems however that maybe Harvey had a town in mind. Now while Harvey is working out the details, his wife Daeida is on a train headed back east where along the way she has shared life discussion with this gal from Ohio who speaks of her lovely home in a Dutch settlement of Hollywood Ohio. Hence the name Hollywood. Sounds cute right? Well, who knows if it is true or not because some other Dude says he named it that while he and wifey honeymooned in the area. There was also a time that Holly was planted on said land. That being said, which is true? I have no idea, but I like Daeida’s version…lol So anywho, Harvey purchased this Cahuenga Valley land for ranching of which he failed. Then he decided to parcel it and name it Hollywood. He filed the plat in LA County Feb,1 1887. By 1900 the population was about 500 and by around 1911 Filmmakers started moving in from nearby LA. In 1919 the first Film Studio was built in what is present day Hollywood. Now it seems that much of the Biz was going on back East in New York and New Jersey. The only issue was that whenever someone filmed a movie, old man Edison (Thomas Edison) or Tommy as us friends call him, would sue them since he held much of the motion picture patents at the time. Well, these film makers hauled it to LA to distance themselves from Edison. When his attorneys would travel to Cali to pursue legal action, the filmmakers would high tail it to Old Mexico to evade prosecution. Of course, as time went on there were other patents and old Edison became more irrelevant. Well, these filmmakers that fled to LA soon became interested in this little town of Hollywood and so the fun began with Cecil B DeMille and Charlie Chaplin building some of the first movie studios there. On to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the rest is much a colorful history with surprises at every corner.
Since then and all the years to follow Hollywood and LA have been the destination for all aspiring Actors, Artists, etc. Fleeing there in hopes and dreams of new beginnings and stardom. In the booming days and even to recent decades I would say that this was probably a good move. Now in our wonderful glory days of technology I will differ though. In so many a dreamer’s mind LA is the place to be. You have access to so many talent agents, film auditions, the yearly Pilot season. Oh my God, if you can just get there you can be discovered and with hard work, you will be a working actor in no time. Then on your way to fame and fortune. Slow down Turbo, not so fast. Now I am one of the biggest dreamers out there, but one must also face reality. Unlike the Golden Age there are now as a good estimate between 150,000.00 to 200,000.00 working and aspiring actors in the LA area alone. This would encompass Union as well as Non-Union actors. Some established and yet so many not established looking for the same dream. One must take a serious look at this and how much you will be able to stand out of such a large crowd or even get your foot in the door. Then you must take a look at expenses to live in that area. The rents and cost of living are out of this world for an upstart. I once knew of a couple in the LA area who were renting a 600 sqr. Ft studio apartment in a rough spot of town for close to $2000 a month. Food, groceries, gas, everything is quite a bit more than many are accustomed to as well. Needless to say, you will have several jobs and roommates to exist! Where is your time to study your craft and pursue these auditions? Yes, it sounds wonderful to tell your friends and family that you are trekking to LA and Hollywood for your dream but come on let’s get real! It is/was considered that 80 percent of the acting work is in LA. I would say now that this has changed quite a bit. Your added markets of Georgia, New Mexico and others have made a huge dent in this figure. Those are just a few of the biggies. There are many other film States now with the addition of so many tax incentives. An actor can currently find many opportunities in more affordable areas. Always pursue your dream but my advice is to investigate these other film markets that are closer to you and more accessible. I have seen so many actors travel out to only return with much dismay. There are also many actors leaving LA to relocate in these other markets. Food for thought.
In my beginnings I spoke wheeled out of New Mexico where my home was. It is a thriving film market even though I film more nationally and internationally my start was there. Your local pool of talent in these smaller markets is much less and your chances of being noticed are much greater. If you do not live in one of these states do not worry. You are most likely close enough to submit to and work from your area to one of these markets. You will have much more time and money to invest in training and honing your fine craft. Just imagine submitting up against 50 or less other actors as compared to hundreds or thousands in the LA market. Do keep in mind that most roles cast to local markets are bit parts or U5’s (under five lines) but all parts are parts and there are no small parts. This is good training and a better way to be noticed especially if you have the skills. Skills of which you have the time to fine tune. Even in the larger markets of LA and NY actors start from humble role beginnings. As you build this resume then you can work to the larger roles. With todays technology you can submit for roles from anywhere. Establish your base and expand out virtually to the other markets. It worked for me and it can for you!
Even before these recent difficult times many auditions were becoming virtual. In the local markets they were still in person but in the larger it was moving to self-tapes. When I first began, I studied self-taping more than many actors in my NM market as I saw where it was going. It gave me a bit of a head start and has brought me to where I am today. I stopped submitting locally as I wanted those larger meaty type of roles as I am a meaty actor…lol Now with things the way they are, almost every company from Studios to Casting Directors will be going the self-taping route. This will benefit you greatly in the pursuit of your Dream. My advice to you is to stay in your area. if you really want to move then do some research and adventure out to one of these other film markets. As I stated earlier, some of the larger film studios have located in GA and NM. Do your due diligence and find what suits you. Spend your time and money on perfecting self-taping and your craft. Your money is better spent there rather than a move to LA. Do not become an actor who takes a bad role just to pay the rent. I call it the mortgage role. #smh In the end, after it is all said and done, keep your hopes high, your spirit strong and contemplate your next move carefully in the Actor’s life game of Chess.
Always feel free to reach out to me with questions, suggestions or a simple hello at the links below. Cheers and Good on Ya!