Should I stay or should I go?
Over the last two days I've made the move from Los Angeles to Seattle. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to think about my experience in Los Angeles and why it was one of the best decisions I've made so far in my career.
Just over two years ago I was living in Seattle and working in commercial production. At the time I believed that there was a way to make a living and a career in the city I love. However, as time passed and I began to freelance my perspective began to change.
Now let me just state for the record that it is possible to make a career working in production in Seattle. I know many people who are currently doing it now including some of my biggest creative influences. I have never held the belief that good work is only restricted to places like New York and Los Angeles. If you have a great idea it can be made anywhere. All it comes down to is the people and how it is executed.
However, as I continued to work in Seattle I grew tired and frustrated with not being able to achieve the things that I wanted to do professionally. I was trying to network and create opportunities to grow my career. But after two years of little progress and limited opportunities I felt like I either had to do something different professionally or make the move to Los Angeles.
I agonized about the idea of moving to LA during the entire 2015 summer. I was terrified about taking the risk and ultimately putting myself in a position that was far outside of my comfort zone. I was afraid what my friends, family and peers would think of my decision. But most importantly, I was afraid of starting over. The thought of failure was overwhelming. However, at the end of the day I knew that if I didn't take the leap of faith and chase my dreams I would wake up one day and regretting it.
In retrospect, I feel that moving to LA was probably one of the best decisions that I could've made. I'm confident that I could've been successful without moving to LA. I probably could've found a way to grow my career without leaving the Pacific Northwest. However, I feel like making the move would give me the opportunity to work on different projects and gain experience that I would not find in Seattle.
Over the course of two years of living and working in LA I feel like I have grown to be a better media professional. I had the privilege to work on a variety of different shoots and work at some major post-production companies. But I feel like the most beneficial thing about my experience in LA was being surrounded by like minded individuals.
In the two years that I spent in LA this was probably the biggest lesson that I learned. It's never been easier to make content that engages with people in new and unexpected ways. It's easy to make great work with very limited equipment and share it online. However, the biggest thing that I've come to learn is that filmmaking is really a team effort. It takes a village of committed individuals to bring great work to life that people love. I feel that the people I've worked with have taught me so much about how to be a professional and make work that matters. It was really the moments in between where I learned the most about the business and how to be successful in my career.
In conclusion, I feel like moving to LA was one of the best things I could've done for my career. If I am ever approached by a college student asking if moving to LA is the right decision I would tell them that moving to LA will put them in a better position if they ever decide to move back to the PNW. Working in production can by grueling. The hours are long and the pay sucks. But if they are ok with these things (at least initially) they would benefit from it.
Who knows, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones who finds their name in lights. But one thing is for certain, it won't happen if you don't try.
Personally, I think you should go for it.