Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Hollywood Myth

DISCLAIMER: This is not a critique or review of any studios or people in the film industry that I personally came into contact with during my time in LA. This is an appraisal of a city, it's reputation, and the industry that it became famous for.

Many people pursue their art education (particularly animation and visual effects) under the impression that once the degree is completed, they'll move to Los Angeles and pursue their professional art career. Hollywood is after all, the city of dreams right?

At the risk of coming off as a massive downer, I'm going to be dreadfully honest here. It is my belief that armed with the following knowledge a person could adjust their expectations low enough to actually be relatively happy living in Los Angeles.

Let me be clear, LA is a black hole.

Let's start with the city itself.
No bones about it, Los Angeles is a racially-divided war zone, a smog-encircled pillar of smugness, a storm cloud of car fumes, and a desert of concrete, litter, and vehicles.

The only way a human being could thrive in such an environment is by being paid exorbitant sums of money or Stockholm syndrome.
Despite this, here are several things to keep in mind when making the jump to the west coast.

1) Prepare to Sit

The first thing I noticed upon doing some serious driving around LA is that the very notion of travel is an almost laughable construct. Don't expect to go anywhere without standstill traffic unless you carefully plan your route ahead of time (the route you must take to avoid multi-hours of stop and go traffic will depend on the time of day and month).

Notice the motorcycle in the photo riding between the lanes of cars. This happens constantly and often quite a bit faster than the speed limit. It's been my experience that local police don't seem to do much about it.

If you can avoid driving anywhere, do so.
Parking is limited regardless of where you are in the city so expect to pay a ridiculous amount for parking tickets and parking garages.
It will happen.

2) Don't Breathe

It's good advice to say "don't drink the water" in reference to LA, but I've yet to find a good workaround for breathing the city's air.

Asthmatic? Allergic?
Los Angeles will be quite the living hell for your lungs.
Other than being prepared mentally, there's very little to be done.

The amount of litter and general garbage laying around the streets and neighborhoods of LA/Hollywood is borderline obscene. Park your car for the night and come back in the morning to find a smattering of advertisements ranging from strippers to insurance under the windshield wipers, in the door handle, and stuck in every crack possible.

Some places have seasons. 
Los Angeles has waves of garbage.

3) Rent

Be prepared to pay through the nose for a small apartment in a terrible neighborhood. Subsections of Los Angeles are broken into racial divides and finding an apartment in an area where you are unfamiliar with local language and gang clothes can be dangerous to your health.

Unfortunately, rent rates are only rising.

4) Create a Community

Without friends nearby (and I mean close, the traffic is so bad most people are hard pressed to drive very far), it is possible to slowly whither. 

The general temperament of the populace in LA is not particularly friendly and, given the reasons listed here, it seems almost self-evident. 

5) The VFX/Animation Industry is Choking to Death

Unless you are very far removed from any post-production news over the past decade, you already know about how much trouble the entire post-production industry is in both financially and artistically.

This doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon to be honest.

In summery, all of these points may seem very negative and dire.
Rest assured, this is only because the current climate in the industry as well as the city that made it famous is entirely negative and dire.

Unless you are a visual rock star right out of the gate with deep industry connections and a large trust fund, expect to fight tooth and nail for that entry level job.

Josh Evans


  1. Thanks for the insight, Josh. Just another reason to find a job in a factory.

    1. Can't say I recommend factories per say.
      However, finding a studio outside of LA is always a good bet. :3