An English Writer In Los Angeles!

Well, my trip is over, and it’s time to share the results of my experiences! What’s it really like to be a British writer on your first trip to LA? Here are a few thoughts…

LA is probably an easier town to live in than to visit. What I mean by that is: if you live here, then unless you suddenly produce the hottest spec in town, you’re probably only taking a couple of meetings a week. But if you’re visiting, you’re trying to pack in as many as possible, and that’s going to give you an inaccurate view of how hard it is to get around and how stressful the general atmosphere of the city is.

So bear in mind that what you’re experiencing isn’t necessarily how things are for everyone else. Don’t try to pack in too much unnecessary stuff like sightseeing – enjoy your trip, sure, but remember there’ll be plenty of time to see the sights when you’re a famous writer living in the Hollywood Hills!

LA does have public transport (though people will look shocked if you tell them you’re using it!) It’s even cheap – twenty dollars for a weekly pass on the basic bus network and the Metro (excluding some local or express services). What it will cost you is time. You can get anywhere, including the big studio lots in Burbank and elsewhere, by bus – the question is, will you have enough time between meetings? Basically, if you’re not driving, you’re going to need to use cabs to keep to your schedule, so carry several cab numbers and plenty of cash.

If you are driving, you have the advantage, but even so, time will be against you. Freeway congestion seems to spring up at random, and the speed limit on major routes through town can be as low as 25 mph. Plan meticulously!

The meeting culture is a little different to the UK. Over here, where the TV industry is scattered round the country and writers often live some distance from London, meetings are confirmed at least a week beforehand. In LA, where writers live in and around the city and execs’ schedules are constantly in flux, meetings are only arranged a few days in advance, confirmed the day before, and changes of time on the day are entirely possible. If you’re used to having everything set in stone a week beforehand, that’s disconcerting at first, but you’ll soon settle into it.

Everyone does everything. The traditional barriers between film and television are breaking down, and every company wants to generate all kinds of content. We’re seeing some of that in the UK, but as you’d expect, LA is way ahead of the curve on this. Be prepared to pitch any project at any meeting. And also have a few books, short stories etc that you’d be interested in adapting. Everyone loves pre-existing material!

Prepare for anything. You’ll need sun screen, decent sunglasses, lip balm and a good moisturiser, as well as a plentiful supply of bottled water. But LA is a desert city, and nights are chilly, especially this time of year. If your meeting is in Santa Monica or Venice, remember that ocean breeze and take an extra layer (especially if you don’t have a warm car to get back into).

If by some miracle you get to the vicinity of your meeting early, and decide to get out of the heat, you’re going to have to go further to find a coffee shop than you would in London. It’s not uncommon for several blocks of LA to be offices or housing, with no shops or cafes, especially off the main routes. It’s worth keeping an eye out for somewhere as you approach the building, so you have a place to circle back to. Again, it’s all about the planning!

And lastly – and mostly importantly to a British writer – yes, you really can get a decent cup of tea in LA!

11 comments on “An English Writer In Los Angeles!

  1. Ian Scales says:

    These posts are a fascinating insight into the life of a writer in the modern world. Cheers. On a private note, would be interesting to see you writing for Doctor Who some day, or do you prefer writing your own concepts!

  2. lizholliday says:

    “As low as 25mph”? To a Londoner, that sounds like bliss!

    Can I just second Ian on both points – great blog, and I’d LOVE to see your take on the Doctor!

  3. Leech-Briscoe, Nell says:

    Thanks!!!! I’ve always wished to see LA right npw I’m green with envy!

  4. scriptangel says:

    Reblogged this on Scriptangel's Blog and commented:
    A terrific blog post from Debbie Moon (creator of CBBC hit ‘Wolfblood’) on being a Brit writer on their first trip to Los Angeles.

  5. ldlagarino says:

    It seems somewhat ironic that a native born American who has lived his entire life in New York would look to a Brit to learn about LA.

  6. sgiado says:

    Good to know all of this Debbie. I am a driver but I’ve heard that LA is a lot like Dubai, traffic-wise – which is not a good thing!

  7. Ok…Where did you get that decent cup of tea? I’m American and frankly, I can’t tell the difference. However, my British in-laws just visited for three weeks and there was endless complaining about the tea, even though they brought tea over, bought a proper tea pot and made it themselves!

    • debbiemoon says:

      I thought the tea at the Coffee Bean was pretty good. But maybe I’m just not as fussy as the average British person!

      • I couldn’t understand exactly how they wanted their tea. Even my husband couldn’t make it right for them and they raised him! I love Coffee Bean, but we never took them there. They are really fussy about places like Coffee Bean and Starbucks, even though they have not really experienced them. It’s a source of great pride that they avoid the Starbucks and Costa Coffee in their hometown.

  8. willc88 says:

    Great post, on my first trip to LA I wasn’t old enough to rent a car in the states and tried walking around. Won’t be making that mistake again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s