I recently read an article on Yahoo news (I think) that broke down the real costs associated with being on a show such as American Idol. Along with detailing the costs contestants incur, it also broke down the projected payouts they might make as a result of their participation -even if that participation didn’t result in a win. One of the “experts” brought in to comment on the story said something that I found very interesting, something that I believe not only applies to would be musicians but filmmakers too. It was the notion that rather than try and be the next Justin Bieber or Beyonce, many of these talented individuals would do well to parlay their success into lucrative careers at a more regional level.

It’s an interesting concept when you really start to think about it. If simply being an artist is your dream, and that in doing so you can make a decent enough living to support you and yours, then who’s to say you need to come to Hollywood? I’m serious. What are you going to gain by coming to LA that you couldn’t do elsewhere; that is to say if your goal in life is to be a working artist (i.e. filmmaker, musician, etc)? I argue that it’s actually harder to make a living in LA than it is ANYWHERE else. Also it’s actually quite difficult to do anything within the city or county limits as permits, fees and union BS have all but made working in LA an impossibility for many. Unless of course you’re willing to bend the rules and shoot gorilla style all the time, which is an option. Actors I can understand the appeal of coming out to LA, it really is the place to be if you want to try and transcend beyond regional theater and/or the occasional student film, but even then, it’s not the end all, be all everyone makes it out to be. Plus, the market is simply over saturated, meaning it’s up to you and your ability to hustle and grind -and it is a grind. However every year I read more and more stories or hear from friends who have left the confines of LA and traveled elsewhere in pursuit of their passions. And I think it’s great.

From a filmmaking standpoint, I don’t think there is any benefit to being in LA unless of course you’re trying to be the next (name your director) and live the life that comes with such notoriety. While it sounds great it’s often a double edged sword. Plus for many, the life, however grand, is short lived. For every Spielberg there are hundred Kinka Ushers. Who? Exactly. Not to pick on Mr. Usher, who I happen to think is rather talented and the director of one of my favorite guilty pleasures, Mystery Men, but there are more individuals in his situation then there are the other. As a very famous director once told me, “stay out of film jail.” It’s a real thing, especially in Hollywood where the stakes are extremely high, and the old adage, you’re only as good as your last picture, is all too true. You may have the hot reel now, but you’re simply a studio mess away from being Mr. Usher, who’s Mystery Men, a film he didn’t write nor green light, wound up landing him a spot in film jail. Forever.

I’m not suggesting that filmmakers consider more regional based careers out of fear of failure. No. I’m suggesting it because I actually believe it to be smarter, and a more direct route to Hollywood fame and fortune than bussing tables and waiting for your phone to ring. Wait what? The Internet has proven to be a great equalizer in many regards. It’s all but eradicated the barriers to entry in any creative field for with a little effort and gumption any individual can appear to be as big time as they want. Moreover it’s given the individual the power to monetize their own work rather than rely on others who may not have their best interests at heart. While there are scales to Internet based success, I maintain that if  your goals are realistic and you’re willing to invest in yourself,  than a working creative career is possible -and anywhere. How a regional career then translates into a Hollywood one is simple, the more waves you make outside the system the more you appear to be a low risk candidate for Hollywood to potentially back. Just look at Tyler Perry, he went from being a regional playwright and producer to one of Forbes’ highest paid men in entertainment. But he did it outside the system so that when Hollywood came calling he was able to ensure he got what he was worth rather than being overwhelmed, and subsequently foolish, when it came time to sign his first studio deal. After all he had a reputation, fan base and career to protect. Most of the time, it’s not that way as those who bet it all on black need it to be black just to survive. Not the case if you’re an established, regional rock star. You don’t need Hollywood, Hollywood needs you.

As always I thank you so much for reading and for your unwavering support. Until next time, take care and stay tuned…