In this week’s vlog from Zachary Rowell, the winner of SoCreate’s “So, Write Your Bills Away Sweepstakes,” he’s laying down some truths about leaving Dallas and “making it” in L.A. It’s all part of the journey, after all, to become a working screenwriter. While you don’t have to move to Hollywood in this age of easy communication, it certainly helps.
Zachary made the move a couple of years ago, and he’s got some advice for screenwriters who are considering a move themselves. Plus, he’s telling us about progress on his feature-length script, and why the movie’s ending forced him to take a writing break last week.
Zachary will wrap up the first full month of his 90-day screenplay challenge this week. As our sweepstakes winner, we promised to pay his bills each month if he promised to write 30 pages of his script every 30 days. He’s on track, with 50 pages done so far. Join our Facebook group for more updates from Zachary, samples from his screenplay project, and a chance to share your feedback with him while he writes his bills away!
“Hello, and we’re back for another edition of the screenwriting blogs. So, I think it’s the fourth week. Things are going well. I’ve crossed the 50-page mark, so pat on my back. I had to take a day off, I believe it was Friday because I was worried about my ending. I had two different endings in mind for this movie, and in order to do one of them, I would need to start setting it up now, dropping little clues, little hints, so I needed to figure it out now before I got too far into my second act. I need to figure out which ending I’m going to do.
One’s a little bit of a more simple ending, I guess you would say, and then one I kind of have to set up a bit of a twist. I don’t want to spoil anything, in case you do read the script after I’ve finished it. So I had to figure that out. I ended up going with the more complicated ending, so there were some things that I needed to just nail down. I don’t know. It’s hard to talk about without giving too much away, but I figured it out. I don’t think I’ll have any more hiccups in the near future. I feel like I have things pretty much, you know, they’re outlined, I don’t think I have any more questions about the script, I have my ending. I just gotta’ write it! I gotta write. And then, rewrite. Hopefully, I’ll get some rewriting done before the 90-day challenge is up so you won’t be looking at a complete first draft. Hopefully, it will be a second draft, or a first and a half draft, I don’t know.
So, I wanted to talk a little today about living in Los Angeles, making the move to L.A. I know there’s a lot of aspiring screenwriters out there who want to make the move and maybe they’re afraid they can’t afford it, worried about finding a job, I don’t know.
So, L.A. is expensive. The rent, rent is out of control. That’s the biggest difference. I moved to Los Angeles from Dallas two years ago. And, you know, entertainment prices for like movies or bowling – I like bowling a lot – anything you do for fun, and also food prices, they’re pretty comparable. There’s not too much of a difference there. But when it comes to rent, gas prices, that’s where you see the increase. Right now, we pay $1,600 for a studio, a pretty small studio. We live on the third floor, no elevator, we have some questionable neighbors. I can talk about that at a later date if anybody cares to know. Our laundry room is in the basement, and I’m pretty sure it’s haunted. Maybe I can insert a clip of me walking down there. No parking, we have to find parking on the street, fight for parking, but that’s me complaining. It’s actually not that bad of a place. The studio is actually pretty nice inside. You can look at some photos here, wherever they pop up. Kitchen’s nice. Bug-free. Can’t complain. I mean, I did, I just complained, but it’s really not that bad. But it is a small space. $1,600, back where I used to live that would get me a pretty nice one- to two-bedroom, but you know, not out here.
But I don’t need that big of a space, I’m fine. I feel more comfortable in small spaces. That’s why I’m always in the car.
The neighborhood I live in is on the border of East Hollywood and Los Feliz. Don’t know if I said that right. I’ve heard like three different pronunciations of that neighborhood. I don’t want to say it again. I feel like I was close the first time. I don’t want to stretch it. It’s a nice neighborhood. We’re within walking distance to lots of cool little cafes, restaurants, little shops. Vista Theater is just right down the road, the place where Jeff Goldblum plays jazz, also within walking distance. Griffith Park, it’s within walking distance, you can see it. It’s not a bad area. But it took a while to find this place.
There are places around here that are similar in pricing, maybe a tad bit cheaper, but from what we saw, they all had roach problems. That’s a big thing you have to look out for. You might come out here and do some searching, and you’ll be like, there’s a studio for $1,395, it’s perfect for me. And then you do a little research, and you find out there are roaches or bed bugs. Do your research, that’s one thing I would like to … eh, I had a phrase in mind. Everything gets left in here, ok? There’s not a lot of editing going on. You see everything. But yeah, do your research, look at reviews. Sometimes, apartments don’t have a name around here, so what you want to do is get the address, type in the address on Google, search for it, and see what pops up. You might be surprised.
What else can I say about that? I would suggest, if you’re moving out here and you’re young, you don’t have a family, get a roommate. Find roommates. I think there’s a Facebook group. Maybe you can link to it in the description. There’s also a subreddit, L.A. List, or something like that. That’s the smart thing to do. You can find a nice room in a nice neighborhood for under $1,000 if you’re really looking. So, that’s what I would suggest. Find a roommate, that way, you’re not breaking the bank, you know.
If you’re coming out here all on your own, and you want to live on your own, it’s going to be hard. Unless you’re a baller, you know, you’ve got them deep pockets.
So, a car. Will you need a car? I don’t want to say yes, like 100-percent, you absolutely have to have a car. But it’s going to make your life a lot easier. Los Angeles doesn’t have the best public transportation. Unless you live downtown, you might be able to get away with it. But I would recommend having a car. It’s just, you don’t want to be paying for Uber and Lyft all the time. And you could always ride a bike, but it looks dangerous. I see people riding bikes all the time, but it looks very dangerous. I’d be afraid to ride a bike around here. But lots of people do it. Also, I’m scared of most things. Don’t let my fear hold you back. Live your life.
Grocery shopping, I recommend Trader Joe’s, if we’re getting this deep into it (laughs). Trader Joe’s is where it’s at. Affordable prices. They have great baked goods, delicious cookies, vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They give out free samples, the cashiers are nice most of the time, a little talkative. Parking – people will complain about Trader Joe’s parking – rightfully so, it’s a nightmare. But try to go, if you can, early in the morning, between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., on a weekday. That’s when it’s pretty calm. It’s never calm at Trader Joe’s, but it’s ok.
You’ll be fine. It’s not as hard as some people make it out to be. A lot of people will kind of exaggerate things a little bit to try and like, you know, “do you really want to come? Do you really want to do this?” I guess they want you to be cautious with it. But it’s not THAT expensive. It’s expensive, but it’s doable. Especially if you live with other people, as long as you’re employed, I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be able to do it, as long as you don’t have a family. If you have a family, if you have kids, I don’t have experience, I can barely afford a dog. So, good luck to you. Hopefully you have a good job.
Yeah, so you can do it. I believe in you. If I can do it, you can do it. I know I hate when other people say that, but really, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m 27, 28, actually. I’m 28, and I feel like I’m like 13. So, if I’m making it out here, I know you can.
I think that’s about it. There’s a wildfire currently going on, not too far away. It’s far away enough. But there’s smoke, and I’m probably breathing it in, so I should probably end this now, and I’ll see you next week.” – Screenwriter Zachary Rowell, “So, Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes Winner