Filmmaking / Directing : Starting a career in film/tv -- East Coast (Atlanta) vs. West Coast (LA) ? by Charlotte Arnold

Starting a career in film/tv -- East Coast (Atlanta) vs. West Coast (LA) ?

I have been planning to head to LA for the past 5 years to go into acting. Now, I am realizing that the Atlanta area is becoming a film/tv center, I already have an agent & family there, & its cost of living is a lot lower, so it seems like it makes more sense for me. I don't know what to do -- which direction should I head? I would appreciate wisdom on this topic, please. Thanks!!

Miguel Guzman

L.A. L.A. L.A. L.A. L.A. L.A. L.A. Trust me. Yeah, they film a lot of stuff in a lot of other places to save a lot of money through tax credits and whatnot, but the guy pressing the button to do that is in an office in Los Angeles. Politics can also change the climate for some regions -- a lot of production left New Orleans once those tax credits disappeared. That will never happen in Los Angeles. Find a good spot and you'll also be completely surrounded by creative people in your field that will inspire you and help you be where you want to be. It can be daunting at first, but we all have to pay our dues. In its own right, L.A. is an enchanting and diverse city that will keep you on your toes but still make you feel like you never want to leave. I'm sure Atlanta is a fun and amazing city as well, but L.A. is where the magic happens -- at least for me! Good luck! -Miguel

Charlotte Arnold

Totally makes sense, thanks! Awesome point about paying our dues -- there aren't really short cuts, right? haha Guess I will just have to take that leap of faith & look for my creative home! Thank you, Miguel

Dan MaxXx

LA or NYC.

Charlotte Arnold

Thanks, Dan!

Carrie M Schriver

I have been struggling with the same issues of whether to move To L.A. or ATL. I came to the conclusion to move to LA and try it there before any other place after writing about it and meditating on it for many months and tons of research. First I looked at the cost of living for both cities, to my surprise they cost about the same. LA housing is more expensive for the Sq footage, but you will be out auditioning and it depends on how much living space you want and where you would like to be. Good areas for actors are Burbank, Silver Lake, Culver City, Echo Park, Glendale, Los Feliz. Here is a breakdown of expenses for both Cities: The other factor is the weather, I cannot stand cold weather, being a native Floridian has completely made me a cold weenie and the winters are longer and colder over there. I love the beach and warmth so that was another check for California for me. This may not be a big deal for you, but something to consider. When movies are made they still hire mostly actors from LA for lead and supporting parts and then do the regional and local hiring from other places. LA has a system that works and has been working for ages. I am not saying Atlanta is bad, but its still new and working out the kinks. They also have a huge actor pool there as well that is flooded, so why not be in the place that knows its stuff. The actors in LA are another bread of human lol after visiting a few times I fell in love with the people and atmosphere. Folks are friendly, creative and super motivated. There are many workshops and groups to join when it comes to the acting craft. I made a checklist of pros and cons and did a lot of research. Take a trip or two to visit and see how you like it if you have never been.

Melissa Butler

LA or NY.... most things get cast form these two places even when they are shoot else where.

Richard "RB" Botto

I'm going to go in a different direction here. With the plethora of projects being filmed in the ATL, it may be easier to break in and build up your credits there first. I can tell you straight out, I know of 5 established L.A. casting directors who have either moved or opened satellite offices in Georgia because of all the filming there. They're not only getting a ton of work, they're discovering new talent. So, if you have no credits and are looking to break in, I would go where the talent pool isn't as established and the competition isn't as great as it is in the big cities.

Charlotte Arnold

This is a complicated issue, & I can't tell you how much I appreciate your input. Wow, Carrie, I am blown away with your amazing info -- clearly alot of time and research went into that. So appreciate you sharing & a huge thank you! RB, I am hearing about talent heading to ATL, but didn't know about CD's going there from LA, so thanks. I am starting to lean toward Atlanta, being pretty new in the business & with a support system basically in place there, but I don't want to let go of my long term focus on LA. Maybe I need to change my plan to add a stop in ATL before heading out west. Thanks to each of you and please stay in touch.

Bill Hartin

To piggy-back on RB's insights, Atlanta, as far as I know, is the only market developing training programs to meet their production needs, so it would seem prudent for you to delve deeper into the Atlanta market - make connections through S-32 - and establish yourself before taking on the highly competitive markets of NYC and Hollywood. Kudos to you for your due diligence. Best of luck.

Richard "RB" Botto

Great thoughts, Bill.

Charlotte Arnold

Thanks, Bill. This is the perfect & safe place for me to learn from industry professionals. Maybe one day I can return the favor! Until then, I want you to know that I really appreciate your help.

Regina Lee

Rhetorical - do you have a network in LA the way you do in ATL? If not, that's a point for ATL. Since you have an agent in ATL, ask him/her if s/he thinks s/he can book work for you in ATL. If the agent says, "heck yeah, I bet I can book you immediately, and that's why I signed you," that's 50 points for ATL. If s/he says, "you're a development client, and you don't have the credits yet to book professional work," then you have no real advantage in one place vs another, and you might simply follow your heart. You might also consider your brand and whether shows that fit you are shooting in ATL or in LA.

Charlotte Arnold

Wow, Regina! That's an angle I hadn't thought of. Makes total sense! Thank you so much!!!

Regina Lee

It's possible you might be pretty green and probably not SAG. And it's awesome that you already have an agent in Atlanta, so you might seriously consider starting there. Why throw that advantage into the trash, right? Based on limited knowledge, we responders have not seen an obvious advantage to starting in a more competitive market like LA. That said, I haven't done the research into how many non-union opportunities there are in LA vs ATL.

Toni Deaver

Being a "big" fish in a substantially smaller pond will give you advantages you won't find in LA where buses of people hoping to be stars arrive every day from all over the country. The airport brings the rest from all over the world. With so many productions headed to GA because it's a right to work state, and you being a local hire, you stand a much better chance of not only building your resume, but also of meeting working producers and directors. Much harder to do in LA or even NYC when so many are vying for your same coveted role.

Tony Cella

The cost of living in Los Angeles is insane. In addition to the high rents, public transportation is far behind Chicago or New York City. Day jobs are also difficult to come by. There are plenty of actors gunning for server, bartender and other positions, in addition to the usual competition from undereducated lower class populations. If you have connections in Atlanta, go there. Competition is less fierce. You'll have a better chance of making ends meet.

Charlotte Arnold

Wow, this is just unbelievably awesome information! This makes total sense. I appreciate your input & can't thank you enough!

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