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Is living in Arizona almost as good as living in Los Angeles for screenwriting?

I got this question recently:

“I live in Arizona and having read everything you posted on living in LA to be a screenwriter, I wonder if us Arizonians are viewed a bit differently in light that we’re just 6 hours from LA. Of course, I would be missing the whole idea and point of making contacts, meeting the right people and networking but as far as an agent or production company wanting to set up meetings, would they still look at an Arizonian as an ‘amateur’ and not worth the hassle?”

If you haven’t read my posts on Living in Los Angeles, you should take a look at them. You can find them here: http://www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/tag/living-in-los-angeles/

To answer your question, no, I don’t think that living in AZ is any better than living in any other city outside of LA. While you’re right there is some proximity to LA, a large part of it is just the perception that people who are really serious about screenwriting, especially people who are trying to break in, live in Los Angeles. There’s really no getting around this fact mainly because it’s true. Now with that said, there are plenty of screenwriter’s who have made it even though they didn’t live in LA… I can’t think of any off the top of my head but I’m sure there are some.

The thing is, the point is not just to have a physical LA address and phone number, you could get those two things for probably less than $20 / month. The main point to being in LA is just being around the business. You run into professionals and up-and-comers like yourself on a daily basis everywhere you go that you can network with, you see productions taking place around the city whenever you go out, the 5 o’clock news spends more time on entertainment then most other cities, you see movies at Mann’s Chinese theater, there are lots of screenings where the filmmakers show up. There are countless small little things like this that you simply can’t get anywhere else. Living in LA immerses you in the business, almost without trying, and I think this is very valuable.