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Moving to the big pond (LA)


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#1 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 02:32 PM

Looks like I will be moving to LA in February. I have a decent amount of contacts there but if SAG doesn't get things sorted out it could be rough for a little bit. On the plus side that leaves lots of time for hanging out, drinking and practicing(preferably not all at the same time). So anyone want to get together for drinks, coffee or some steadicam practice when I get there?

Any advice for someone new to town? Anyone want to try to talk me out of it? Unfortunately New Mexico and Louisiana have effectively killed the film market in Texas so you probably won't succeed. I still get plenty of calls for work here but since nothing is coming in it is all peoples personal projects which have no money. I will be keeping busy the next few months doing friends favors but that doesn't really pay the bills. Enough complaining, its time to move on to bigger and better things.

~Jess
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#2 Kevin Andrews SOC

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 08:32 PM

Looks like I will be moving to LA in February. I have a decent amount of contacts there but if SAG doesn't get things sorted out it could be rough for a little bit. On the plus side that leaves lots of time for hanging out, drinking and practicing(preferably not all at the same time). So anyone want to get together for drinks, coffee or some steadicam practice when I get there?

Any advice for someone new to town? Anyone want to try to talk me out of it? Unfortunately New Mexico and Louisiana have effectively killed the film market in Texas so you probably won't succeed. I still get plenty of calls for work here but since nothing is coming in it is all peoples personal projects which have no money. I will be keeping busy the next few months doing friends favors but that doesn't really pay the bills. Enough complaining, its time to move on to bigger and better things.

~Jess



Jess, I just came back from LA after spending the summer there. Nice place, but I couldn't seem to find where the work was. Stepped onto almost every major lot and it was the same story everywhere.....hiring freeze and skeleton crews.

Just my experience. Not saying I won't be back though. ;)

Wish you great success whatever you decide!
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#3 Eric Fletcher S.O.C.

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 12:58 AM

Any advice for someone new to town? Anyone want to try to talk me out of it? Unfortunately New Mexico and Louisiana have effectively killed the film market in Texas so you probably won't succeed. I still get plenty of calls for work here but since nothing is coming in it is all peoples personal projects which have no money. I will be keeping busy the next few months doing friends favors but that doesn't really pay the bills. Enough complaining, its time to move on to bigger and better things.



Are you a union member? if not think twice about LA. also unless you have a job offer and deal memo in hand don't expect to be working on the big shows rightaway.

It's mighty thin work wise in LA right now and in the midst of a recession/depression I'm not certain that I'd be moving from where I was working, no matter how small the work.

If New Mexico an Louisiana are taking your work why don't you go there?
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#4 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 01:12 AM

Looks like I will be moving to LA in February. I have a decent amount of contacts there but if SAG doesn't get things sorted out it could be rough for a little bit. On the plus side that leaves lots of time for hanging out, drinking and practicing(preferably not all at the same time). So anyone want to get together for drinks, coffee or some steadicam practice when I get there?

Any advice for someone new to town? Anyone want to try to talk me out of it? Unfortunately New Mexico and Louisiana have effectively killed the film market in Texas so you probably won't succeed. I still get plenty of calls for work here but since nothing is coming in it is all peoples personal projects which have no money. I will be keeping busy the next few months doing friends favors but that doesn't really pay the bills. Enough complaining, its time to move on to bigger and better things.

~Jess



Hey Jess,
Unfortunately Eric is sorta right, Dec. Jan Feb are lean months and recession isn't helping, but that being said, if lack of work and higher cost of living is your thing then check out www.Southbayrentals.com, and www.westsiderentals.com if nothing else it'll give you the average market.

And if your not union then you'll end up searching for reality shows.

All the best
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#5 Robert Starling SOC

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 11:03 AM

First, get a really good touch screen GPS.

Getting on the Industry Experience Roster, getting your Safety Passport and then into the Union is arduous and very time consuming; ask anybody. I've heard nightmare stories from most everyone about dealing with the Contract Services Trust Fund Administration; with that in mind I went in well prepared and organized and it only took a week for me... and a check for about $7200.00 to the 600. I've heard a few say it took them six months and heard one story of lost paperwork. By all means keep duplicates of everything. If you're already 600, you still have to get on the Roster and do your Safety Passport training.

There's work but like Eric or Rob said it's thin right now; working LA and Las Vegas helps as does the very kind operators who call me to fill-in for them on shows or send referrals my way.

Housing with parking was my biggest challenge. Coming in late at night and having to load-in and load-out at home with a short turn around meant street parking was not an option. Finding a garage or underground to park the Hummer in a safe location with kit inside at night was tough too. Yes, the Hummer is a guzzler and those little SmartCars like Rob Vuona has keep getting stuck between my tire and the wheel well ;-} but it's paid for.
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#6 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 09 December 2008 - 01:08 PM

Thanks for the advice.

I am not union yet although I would really like to be. I don't expect to be working on the big shows in LA but I am hoping for things like commercials, music videos and indie features. I would like to become union and do bigger features and TV shows but I realize that will take some time to develop.

I currently am willing to work just about anywhere and I don't really expect that to change. I expect that when things pick up I will get some job offers in Texas and if any of them are worthwhile and I don't have enough going on in LA I am leaving a car in Austin and have plenty of couches to sleep on. Working in Vegas is also something I would really like to do and I have been hitting up the one film person I know there for work. I am spending the holidays in NYC and am also going to be attempting to drum up any work I can there.

Through a friend of a friend it looks like we have a cheap sublet in the venice beach area from February through mid May. I would prefer to go a little later to give time for SAG to get their act together and work to pick up but my girlfriend is a little more gung ho about the whole thing and this sublet seems like a good opportunity. Our main goal for going to LA is really to make more work connections so being there while things are slow might not be the worst thing in the world since it should be a good time to meet people.

As far as going to Louisiana or New Mexico goes they are already losing work to Michigan so that may be drying up a bit too. This whole incentive game is a bit ridiculous and I really don't feel like chasing around the lateast incentives by jumping from one small pond to another is going to be worthwhile.

The truth of the matter is that almost all of these films hire people they know from LA to fill the good positions anyway. My main goal for working in LA is actually to find enough connections that I can also get hired on projects elsewhere.

I am really not looking to just do steadicam. I also know how to do things like operate a camera on sticks or my shoulder and even underwater. I also DP stuff from time to time although I wouldn't expect making it as a DP to be any easier than as a camera op. If I have to I can always go back to doing grip/electric work to make some money I just want to try to avoid getting pigeon holed as a grip/electric guy because what I really want to be doing is camera oping. That being said I have done a lot of it including juicing on union features and gaffing indie features. I am also a scuba instructor so could probably be a dive bum for a while if work is really bad. Unfortunately that doesn't pay the bills but it is fun :-)

~Jess
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#7 Michael Stumpf

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 02:40 PM

As the others have said, good luck.
Town is swamped with steadicam operators as it is, and work is few and far between right now.
With all the other states offering so many incentives, many go elsewhere.

To be honest, New York is the place to go.
They are absolutely swamped with work.
They NEED steadicam operators there. Many of the steadicam operators that lived there, packed up and moved to LA a few years ago when their work was slow due to the runaway production and all the jobs were going to Toronto.

I was recently told that New York could use 15-20 more operators there and all would be working.
I have gotten a couple opportunites to go to New York myself for work recently but they ended up finding people on the east coast and brought them into New York for the jobs instead.

Most commercials are union these days and same with music videos that pay any decent rate.
Only small crappy paying indie films (less than $1 million budget) are non union.
The union has low budget agreements for movies as low as $1.5 million budget these days, so it'll be even tougher for you to find jobs that pay more than a couple hundred bucks a day.

Don't want to scare you away, just being realistic.
There have got to be 200 Steadicam Operators in the LA area and many of them have years of experience and aren't working or are taking low budget shows to keep busy.

New Mexico, Louisana, New York, Michigan, North Carolina, etc all need operators.
They might be a more wise place to consider developing your skills and so forth.

Again, good luck.
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#8 Aaron Medick SOC

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 05:38 PM

I would say it is not exactly true that NY is swamped with work. I finish my job next Friday, I'm Union, on the Roster in LA( I do have to take the safety courses) and I have nothing lined up. Another Op is on a well deserved vacation. Which we all know we don't take when there is work to be had. Those of my freinds working do have all the work they can handle. We do have more episodics shooting here then ever before.
I know it is bad in LA. When I was out there for the Emerging Cinematographers Awards only a few of the DPs I met were working with any consistancy. The recession is definitely thinning the herd, so to speak. All the feature guys I know are hurting. I didn't do any features this year. I worked on 6 last year. If we can all hang in there, it will get better.
Good Luck Jess, it is hard to find work in LA if you are not in the union, especially now. The first time I went to LA I was not yet in 600. I had just been Nominated for an Emmy for a Children's show I was the DP of. I knocked on some agents doors and they all politely and some not so politely told me congratulations come back when you are union. I bought a steadicam a few months later and started operating and DPing everything I could. I got into 600 a bought a year later.
You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. Keep working toward your goals and you will make it. Nothing is easy that is worth doing.

Best,
Aaron

By the Way, if anyone knows who is looking for an Op in NY let me know.
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#9 Jess Haas SOC

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 02:10 PM

I had actually heard that things are rather slow in NY right now. I will be up there for the holidays and do have a place to stay there anytime I want so I plan on trying to drum up some future work while I am there. I would also love to meet up with some NY steadicam operators.

~Jess
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#10 RonBaldwin

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 09:39 PM

NY isn't exactly super busy right now, but there's a good amount going on. I'm not sure what will happen when things get really busy in the spring. There will most likely be a problem getting good crew members, let alone experienced steadicam ops with all the pilots and features that will probably be taking advantage of the tax incentives here.

rb
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#11 Rob Vuona SOC

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 10:15 PM

NY isn't exactly super busy right now, but there's a good amount going on. I'm not sure what will happen when things get really busy in the spring. There will most likely be a problem getting good crew members, let alone experienced steadicam ops with all the pilots and features that will probably be taking advantage of the tax incentives here.

rb



Ron, you kill me . . .LOL . . .
One of these days were definitely having drinks!
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#12 BJMcDonnell SOC

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 08:19 PM

Hey Jess,


Give me a call when you get to LA. Maybe we can have a steadicam guild meeting at Gladstones or somewhere. Ron, Brad, and I will show you Jumbos clown room. FYI there are no clowns there except for us.
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#13 William Demeritt

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Posted 02 January 2009 - 09:30 PM

Ron, Brad, and I will show you Jumbos clown room. FYI there are no clowns there except for us.


It's a trap!! Ha ha ha!! Ahh, Jumbos, just a quick google search will let you know just what you can expect... but it is a Los Angeles staple.
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#14 geoff shotz

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 01:23 PM

be careful jess! bj, brad, and ron are the three best looking girls in that place!

geoff

p.s. don't forget to call me with a meeting time!
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#15 RonBaldwin

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 02:24 PM

be careful jess! bj, brad, and ron are the three best looking girls in that place!

geoff

p.s. don't forget to call me with a meeting time!


you bitch!
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