One Year in LA
Three hundred and sixty-five days ago my wife and I packed up our whole life into a eight foot by seven foot shipping cube, and drove across country from Orlando to Los Angeles. We gave up two full time performing jobs with zero prospects. It was thrilling and terrifying to metaphorically jump off such a large cliff.
The first couple of months were tough. We watched our nest egg essentially evaporate. We felt even further from home (Michigan) than we had in Florida. And being surrounded by people who had found "success" was both encouraging and heartbreaking.
But instead of being discouraged, we kept pushing ourselves to go out and socialize (not an easy task when you are a natural introvert). We had been lucky to have some family and college friends to be our support network. In cultivating friendships and socializing at the Magic Castle, work opportunities and new friendships began to pop up.
From an outside perspective, especially through social media, it may look like overnight success. But our move was a calculated risk, that we had been preparing for over the past five years. We still have weeks of financial worry. I still take gigs I'd rathe not take. But in a land where everyone is clambering to work in entertainment, you can't be picky.
I don't believe in firm goal setting because I believe it leads to more disappointment in the long run, but I did made a invisible list in my mind. I've been lucky enough to accomplish a large chunk of them. The Magic Castle and The Comedy and Magic Club were two very important achievements.
Let the record show I did not get in the door on my own, besides not stop email blasts, I had great friends who helped put in a good word. That is the greatest lesson and misconception about this town; "It's all who you know," is not entirely correct. The phrase really should read, "It's all the relationships/friendships you cultivate, while working really hard to get better in your craft, as well as being a nice person who does not stab people in the back."
When looking back over the past twelve months, even on tough days when it feels like I am stuck, I can say that I am proud of my wife for pushing us to take such a large risk. She was the driving force, and it made the journey one thousand times easier with a co-pilot.
If you plan to take a giant risk in your life, go for it. Just make sure it is a calculated one.
A few life lessons we have learned in our year here:
Say yes to everything.
If an opportunity arises that you are remotely interested in, move mountains to make it happen. Usually the cooler the gig, the less money you make, but it's usually worth doing.
Be kind to everyone.
I've had to put my cynicism in check. This is a town of gossip, and you don't want to be known as the guy who started the story, or kept the story going.
Be happy for everyone in your field.
If someone gets a gig that you wanted, support them. Jealously only makes things worse.