So I am sitting at the Kitchen, a restaurant that joins on to the Akbar, a club in Silverlake. I am doing a bit of work before I go to my friend David’s table reading of a new screenplay where I will be reading a character.
Killing time and eating a tofu plate, around the corner come Zach and Masi, walking their dogs. These two guys are my two favorite actors on Heroes, which in 2007 was the absolutely huge series about regular people who discover that they have superpowers.
Zach plays the evil Silas and has the eyebrows to match. Masi is the plucky Japanese guy that can bend time. And apparently, when they are not wreaking havoc/saving the world, they walk their dogs together in Silverlake.
And sit at the next table to famous writers, like me.
They order and in not to long a space of time, people start stopping their cars to take photographs, people call at them from the street; it’s kind of weird to stand on the periphery of that kind of fame. Masi in particular is a star for all the geeks out there; he was a top CGI/computer guy and worked on the effects for a bunch of big films before swapping to acting. And hey, he’s Japanese; cool factor up.
We meet by dog, they have some pretty cute canines and I start patting them and soon we start talking about my old beagles and Rottweiler and then about the biz.
I mention that I was watching a lot of their show recently, not just because I like it, but also that I was doing research…
And I let those three dots hang like a chandelier.
Research for what they inquire. Funny you guys should ask. And without much more prompting I start telling them about Diary of a Superhero and Jeremy Sisto and Jeff Renfroe and the next thing they are asking about the film and what’s the story and to my amazement, they are really into it.
And they love Jeremy Sisto, like everyone in this town. It’s a weird thing when you have a project that an actor everyone respects is attached to. You are legitimized in a way that normally only happens when you rehearse your acceptance speech in the mirror.
So it’s a weird but wonderful thing when you are talking to two people who you really like the work of and the conversations ends with them listening to you talk about your stuff that no one has ever seen.
We chat for a while before I have to leave, telling them that I have to go and read the part of a drag queen now. Which actually was true. Talking to superheroes before I run around the corner and turn into a female impersonator, I love this town.
But as I was leaving Zach asked me how long I’d been in LA. I had to think about it.
Me: Just over a year
Zach: (really surprised) And you didn’t know anyone when you arrived?
Me: No. Just me and a suitcase of clothes.
Zach: Then I’d say that’s been a pretty good year.
And I had to agree.
Dear Readers, a moment please as I pull on my beige cardigan and fill my pipe from the comfort of the Chesterfield by the bearskin rug, stroke my beard and get to thinking.
It’s been a most incredible rollercoaster of a ride here in LA. But I get why people don’t make it to the end.
Following your dreams is really tough. You have to hurdle your ego again and again.
You have to give up a secure income; I used to miss the ad dollars a lot, not so much these days, except when I visit the Apple Shop.
You have to completely change your life and lifestyle; I live in a little studio just off Venice beach, on about a tenth of what I used to throw around in the ad days. I found my couch on the street. I’m minding a TV for a friend. KITT is soldiering on despite the fact that the dash lights, air con, left side speaker, trunk trigger, and radio don’t work. And it’s still bashed in on the left side where that guy hit me last year.
You have to deal with doubt; in fact it’s more like, “Hello Doubt, my old friend…”. It’s like a dog that follows you wherever you go. To the pool, to the shower, out at night. Constantly cocking its leg on all your good times.
You have to deal with other people’s shit, mostly well intentioned, but other people’s advice usually reflects their own fears and anxieties. And I have plenty of my own. Boxes of the stuff.
And the hardest part is starting all over again. This I mean on two levels. One is starting at the bottom of a new career, when you were pretty comfortable in your old one. In Berlin, I’d presented to the worldwide board of BMW, our team won the account and we were written up in the trade press all over Europe. Then you come back to LA where the only person waiting for you at the airport, is Doubt, “Hey Dude, where you been? Lot of people sold scripts while you were gone…”
And on the other level, it’s starting again on everything you work on. For every DIARY OF A SUPERHERO script you write, there’s three other treatments you can’t quite make work and two specs that you finished a year ago that you re-read and discover they are not even close to being as good as you remember. The good news is that you’re a better writer. The bad news is, you have a lot of rewriting to do.
So, I don’t think anyone ever really makes it here in LA. When you reach one summit, there’s always the next one to go. And Doubt has a cousin that lives there, knows you’re on your way and is putting the kettle on.
But I think instead you get used to, and then comfortable with, the idea that you will always be climbing. And then you start to enjoy that climb. And every now and again you stop and check the view to see how far you’ve come.
Arriving, getting a licence, getting a writing routine going, not dying on the freeways, getting people to read your stuff, discovering that you won’t be discovered in six months, your first meeting, the day you drove around without looking at the map book, getting a semi finalist in a pretty decent competition, getting hired to do a shit film, getting hired to do a real film, bargaining the Chinese dude down to $5 instead of $5.14 for the All Bran.
So I get why people don’t stay; you can lose heart at any moment and it just all gets on top of you.
But despite all the above, I love LA and the life here and I can’t imagine doing anything else other than what I’m doing now. Except freelancing in advertising to pay my bills.
And the days where I’m really blue, I just have to remember one thing. I’m not an actress. They, hands down, have the toughest gig in LA.