My first week in LA was rough. I was tired; I was wired, and full of nervous energy. My second week was less so once I reminded myself that I had just traveled across the country to start two new jobs in a place I had never been. This made the fact that I had parked in the DMV lot across from Amazon at an ungodly hour before my first day of work feel much more reasonable than it did when I was making eye contact with the early morning lot attendant.
I was fortunate enough to land two internships before making the trip out to LA, one at Amazon Drama Studios as a development intern and the other at Verve Literary & Talent Agency as a mailroom/office intern. I’ve learned so much in the 8 weeks that I have been working that is difficult to decide what has been the most valuable information I have been lucky enough to receive and therefore the most valuable to share.
Both of my internships have elucidated two pretty distinct paths as far as post-grad opportunities go. The first path is courtesy of my experience at Verve and it is also the most linear path I have come across in trying to understand what my next steps should be. The other elucidated path is courtesy of a conversation I had with one of my supervisors at Amazon, and though certainly less defined than the former, it has left me thinking about post-grad in a much different way than I had been thinking about it prior to coming to LA.
Calling, scheduling, – lather, rinse, repeat. Working as an assistant at an agency for a year is full of doing monotonous tasks in a high stress environment in exchange for a much easier transition into what you actually want to do (write, produce, direct, etc.) A year of agency experience gives you the ability to both roll calls and hold your bladder so you do not miss any, while also providing a ton of insight into “the process” that is filmmaking in Hollywood. Whether that means seeking representation or putting together a pitch package is up to your discretion. The less desirable part of this path is that you will be miserable and the pay is less than great and less than good, but we’re young and now is supposedly the time to invest in our own careers. This is a fast track in the loosest sense, but one that for me, is very inline with the work ethic or “grind” that I have always prided myself on - graduate on Friday and start my first real job on Monday - has always been the plan. It’s also the reason I came out to LA – to use the momentum of being in school to give myself the advantage of feeling out opportunities before graduation.
When I sat down with my one of my supervisors at Amazon, he was quick to pickup on my “fast track” plan after he asked me to share some of my aspirations with him. And while he agreed that a year at an agency is certainly a worthwhile experience that I strive for, he advised that I not start work immediately after graduation. Instead, he said I should only come back to LA once I’ve exhausted myself from taking off, whether that means traveling outside the country for several weeks or simply moving back in with my parents. And although this sounds like familiar advice in the vein of taking advantage of being young and jobless, he managed to channel it into a more pertinent conversation about two types of people working in the entertainment industry – ones who work harder than everyone else, who would give their left hand for a project, and definitely spent a year rolling calls. And others who are less task oriented but intelligent, analytical, and insightful beyond just talking about film and television – people who also likely rolled calls, but don’t necessarily place as much emphasis on how hard they worked to get where they are.
This dichotomy is something I picked up on my first day at Amazon, but did not have the experience or the insight to make sense of it in my own mind. I sat in on a development meeting with the Drama executives and coordinators and had a bit of a “wow, I did it, I’m here at the table /in the room moment.” I kept quiet during our first meeting and soaked everything in. But when the second week rolled around, and the nerves wore off, I realized I was having trouble articulating what I thought worked or didn’t work in the scripts we had collectively read the weekend prior.
I had worked incredibly hard to get to LA and now was fumbling to shift my energy towards slowing down and being less concerned with the “grind” of working hard and more with what I was bringing to the table as a development intern. A lot of this just had to with experience, or lack there of, but some of it had to do with deciding what kind of person I want to be in the room – even as an intern. Finding a balance between working hard while giving myself the time and energy to find my voice has defined my time in LA so far.