What if you can’t move to L.A. to be a writer?


This is a question that has come up a lot since I first took up pen and decided I was a writer. If I am to become a successful writer, do I have to move to L.A.? Can I write from my living room/office/bedroom/coffee shop in the UK, Spain, Russia, Africa, Australia or wherever, and still break into the Hollywood scene?

Popular thinking would suggest not or, at least, suggest that you are going to have your work cut out if you don’t. The majority of people with extensive experience of working within the industry would likely insist that you absolutely MUST move to L.A. to be a successful screenwriter. The reason this has come back into my mind was catching some of the tweets resulting from a recent post from Bitter Script Reader which reiterates the need to be in L.A. in order to foster the relationships and do the leg work that is required to make it.

There are exceptions, as you will know if you are interested in the business and read the post from BSR. However, these are exceptions that, generally, prove the rule – they are not exceptions that are going to prove to you that you will make it if you don’t move.

While BSR states that moving to L.A. is the easy bit in the quest to becoming a successful screenwriter (and I am not arguing against that assertion) it is, regardless of what anyone says, an impossibility for some of us. Regardless of whether I have the desire to pack my bags and cross the Atlantic, I have a job and family here in the UK and could not make the move now in any way as easily as I could have done 20 years ago. However, I am the first to admit that I would make the move if I could turn back the clock.

But where does that leave those of us that don’t live in L.A. and have no real means to make that move?

Well, if you are reading a lot of the posts and advice about this, it wouldn’t be surprising if you just gave up. Insurmountable odds, a day job and family are enough to make you reappraise your desire to write. However, frustrating as it is, I try not to look at it this way. If I just give up, surely that shows I wasn’t serious enough? Knowing that moving to L.A. is key to making it as a screenwriter drives it home that I have to try harder. I know the odds are stacked against me, but that just means I have to write the hell out of any ideas I develop and set my screenplays out from the crowd.

I may not do it. It may turn out that I just don’t have what it takes to write well enough to break in from a distance. If not, so be it, at least I’m having a lot of fun and meeting a lot of great people, just having a go at it. I would rather struggle against the odds and gasp my last knowing I tried, as opposed to regretting never having given it a go.

Don’t get me wrong, although I am not a professional and don’t know the business well, if you are in a situation where you are fully able to move to L.A. and have a great adventure, then do it, don’t think twice – if this is your dream go for it, do everything you can to make it happen.

But if you can’t make the move, well… the same advice stands, – go for it, do everything you can, from wherever you are, to make your dream happen.

See it as a challenge and step up your game.

I’m in if you are.

How has moving to L.A. helped your career?

Have you managed to “make it” from a distance?

Please feel free to comment below and share your experiences.


Posted on March 28, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Mystery Failure

    This: ” I would rather struggle against the odds and gasp my last knowing I tried, as opposed to regretting never having given it a go.”

    Amen to that, Mark.

    Be realistic though – don’t sacrifice the life of your family on a lowball opportunity. But – you only have one life………at least it’s warm and they speak reasonably good English.

    Maybe bust a gut for a few years to try and break out from the UK/wherever, then reappraise.
    Perhaps re-train during this period for a normal sort of professional job that already exists in LA – then relocate on a green card for a couple years to be closer to the action (is that possible???? I don’t know).

    I’m not religious – but the quote that comes to mind is this – and it’s actually from a film, Evan Almighty, though it’s a beautiful piece of dialog:

    “God: Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

    So – get in the game and look out for those opportunities!


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