I don’t know about you, but I left college in the mid-2000s wide-eyed with my communications and film degree in one hand, debt in the other, and a completely positive outlook that I’d find work in…HOLLYWOOD.
For most mid-west graduates with the intent to join the production industry, you have two choices for post graduation industry cities…New York or sunny sunny LA! I chose the latter and I’ll explain to you why that has not served me well and why I encourage graduates to stay on the east coast…you know…the non-sunny one.
Film LA, a local non-profit that monitors and reports ongoing and active productions by location, both local and abroad, recently reported that drama series (genre) pilot productions increasingly shifted in number count by location; from LA to NYC. Once the entertainment production hub of the world, Los Angeles has slowly down-geared the amount of film, television, and commercial output due to difficult California tax incentive applications and permit difficulties.
Now more than ever jobs are shot on location within the streets of NYC (The Good Wife), Toronto (Hannibal), Atlanta (The Walking Dead), New Orleans (American Horror Story: Coven), and the like…while the streets of Los Angeles increasingly just get more congested from the influx of graduates…who will end up surfing and drinking Starbucks instead of PA-ing. Go to the Big Apple, they have mass transit!
During the 2013-2014 pilot season, 24 drama pilots were filmed in New York, while only 19 were shot here in LA. (This could be one reason for the over-saturation of the unemployment market and WHY I CAN’T FIND A JOB!) Seriously, when I was replacing myself at my old receptionist position at a commercial production house I cut off the job posting after two days, 100+ resumes, at least 4 master degree applicants and one PhD applicant! All this for minimum wage.
The Hollywood Reporter also added to the findings that drama pilots usually budget around $6-$7 million and can employ up to 200+ crew members. That means that in drama pilots alone, LA lost out on more than $30 million comparatively to NYC this past cycle. LA accounted for only 17% of drama pilots this year, a record low. However, Los Angeles still outranks all cities when it comes to comedy pilots…let’s face it, LA will always have the funniest people on the planet; funny looking, funny diet fads, funny sports fans, funny overly expensive cars, houses, and clothes…you get my point.
So as a soldier of the LA entertainment industry, still fighting the good fight…I encourage new graduates to think outside of the box. Bring production to you while California figures out this tax incentive job killer. Go to NYC, ride the subway, see a good sports match, throw a penny off of the Empire State Building, and eat a cronut.