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PAYING YOUR DUES

paying your hollywood duesAnyone with even a modicum of good ol’ fashioned common sense will know, without having to be told, that a career in Hollywood (at least in the early stages) is going to cost some serious money. If you think you can do it on a shoestring budget, you’re in for some rather worrisome surprises. Let’s try to open your eyes, before it’s too late.

Before you even consider leaving home to start building your acting career in Hollywood, you need to understand something very clearly:

Los Angeles is a very, very expensive city and becoming costlier every year. If you follow our advice on the MAKING THE MOVE page and get yourself a subscription to the L.A. Times, you can scan the classified rental ads to start getting a handle on living costs. Another excellent resource is the CraigsList for this area (concentrate on the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, Burbank and Hollywood listings). Gasoline has become a major concern lately, so you really need to live somewhere that’s centrally located for the acting community and avoid making too many unnecessary long-distance car trips.

As go the housing and transportation costs, so (we assume) go the food and clothing prices, in comparison to wherever you live now. Then there are car insurance and registration (you can’t get the second without the first), which you must have and which probably don’t compare favorably with what you’re paying now. Healthcare? Don’t get us started.

Oh, we know that L.A. isn’t the only expensive city in the U.S., but it’s the one in which you plan to live for quite some time. We’ve seen far too many people (and not just young ones!) turn tail and run after only a few months, because they misjudged their finances in relation to their living expenses.

Where you can really find yourself in trouble, acting-wise, is in the cost of the various necessities for your career that you may not have anticipated before leaving home. For example:

ACTING TEACHERS/COACHES/SCHOOLS

CASTING DIRECTOR COLD READING WORKSHOPS

THE UNIONS (GUILDS)

AGENTS AND MANAGERS

If you consider the monthly costs of any and all of these, you will be able to put together a sensible budget for yourself, prior to making any decisions about moving to Hollywood. As we’ve noted in other sections of Hollywood Passport, much of this can be done from home. For example, you could arrange to audit a few classes before you ever set foot on the airplane that will bring you to L.A., so that you begin right away with your research. You could join one or two of the networking sites, so that you could be submitting yourself for possible auditions once you arrive.

Since day jobs may or may not be easy for you to find, you need to be prepared to survive for several months without a steady income. Here’s a handy-dandy little form to get you started:

MY HOLLYWOOD BUDGET

Good luck!

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