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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

End of an Era (BIG Announcement)

Big changes afoot here in Fun Joel territory! Where to begin?

For the last few years I have happily been working as what would liberally be called a "full-time freelancer." I've loved it. I've loved the flexible and erratic schedule. I've loved working from home (largely). I've loved the variety.

However, of late I've been growing a bit fed up with it all, as if I've had enough of this lifestyle. I've been able to make a living, but just barely so. And that would be 100% fine with me, if it meant that I would have the ability to use my other time to work on my own writing. But the truth is that more and more I've seen that it has been taking so much time and energy for me to just (barely) pay my bills, that I'm left with none of either to dedicate to my writing.

So the status quo has been (a) not really making a living, paired with (b) not writing (at least not as much as I want to/should be).

Thus, I started thinking it was time to change the status quo. Time to start looking for a new job. I had few main requirements for this job:

  • generally regular hours
  • enough pay to cover my expenses (hopefully plus enough to let me save something)
  • ideally something that I'd enjoy, and that uses my skills
I wasn't going to take just any old job that came along, but at the same time I was open to considering anything. It certainly did not have to be within "the industry," and was actually more likely to not be, as I think an industry job would be less likely to meet my first two requirements.

I definitely was willing to "think outside the box." Some of the jobs I considered to one degree or another (either for interim part time work or for longer term) included: substitute teacher, notary, screenwriter's assistant, and mailman.

But then a friend mentioned a job at her company to me. She felt that it would be great for me and I agreed. Not important what exactly it is, but I interviewed, was offered, and accepted the job. I will be doing a lot of writing in the job, but not particularly creative stuff. This will certainly use my skill base, and I hope it will help me further hone my use of language, while also not tapping too much of my creativity.

Other pros to the job:

  • Good pay. While not an exorbitant amount by any means, the best I've ever made, and about a 75% increase over last year, which was not my best year. (Since I've never made a lot of money, to say that it is not that much, but also more than I've ever made is not an oxymoron. Though it is a lot by my relative standards.)
  • Very good benefits.
  • Good location. Conveniently located, which is especially important since I am one of those odd people in L.A. who, even after more than 2 1/2 years here, still does not own a car. (Yet. Hopefully after a few months, I'll be able to afford to buy one.)
  • Good working atmosphere. Everyone in the department is creative -- other screenwriter and novelist types who, just like me, were looking for some more stability. In fact, there's even a guy there who sits by himself in the break room each day and writes his screenplay for an hour at lunch. Maybe I can use him as my painter. I also have a few friends who work at the company, which is nice as well.
  • Regular hours. Which means I will ideally have time to write.
What does this mean for the blog? Absolutely nothing. I will continue to post here regularly, just as I did. If anything, I guess the change will be more posts at night, instead of during the day!

What does this mean for my work? I would like to continue doing some freelancing, and the job actually allows me to do that. I'll still write for scr(i)pt, will still do my own script reading as I've advertised on here, and I hope to still do some reading for the companies I currently read for, just to keep up with things. But of course, that will be the main area that I cut back on.

What does this mean for my career? Ideally, I hope this allows me to really focus on my writing. I hope to finish and/or revise a few scripts, and take my career to the next step. And if not? Well, the way I see things, I'm currently not really making a living and not really writing. So even if I fail to meet my ideal, at least I will have gotten rid of one of those two "nots."

I start the new job after I return from New York and New Jersey, 1st week of July. So as I said, big changes for me and my life. Exciting changes. But hopefully not much that will change the way you and I interact (until, of course, it allows me to take my career to the next level, and you start getting advice from a pro screenwriter!). I'm excited for this next phase in my life's adventure.

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Blogger oneslackmartian said...

whoo hooo! good luck, man. change is always good. well, unless it’s because eleven people said “guilty”

5:20 AM  
Blogger Melanie said...

Congratulations, that's great news. Enjoy the increased income!

5:46 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

mazel tov! drinks at the Formosa sound appropriate.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Congrats! Have fun!!

And, I think I had a dream about meeting you after "Bukowsical!" the other night.


Have a great break-before-the-new-job trip.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

Excellent, good going, man!

BTW, "mailman?" You're "Fun Joel," not "Pyscho Joel."

2:41 AM  
Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Good for you. Really. I've walked in your moccassins.

5:27 AM  
Blogger John David Roberts said...


That's great news. Insecurity and scrambling do not make us "creative" or "free." They make us tired. Looking forward to hearing about the job satisfactions that you hadn't anticipated.


2:10 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Good luck.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Thanks everyone for your good wishes! It's great to have the support!

Martian -- very funny!

Chris -- drinks sound good after I return from "Back East"

Bonnie -- I'm sure that dream was purely platonic! :-) I'm honored.

Procrastinator -- "going postal" is more for those who work in the sorting area, etc. I love to be out and about, walkign around, etc.

Everyone else -- just thanks. :-D

11:00 PM  
Anonymous Eddie said...

Awesome. Good luck, man. (Late)

2:35 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

Hee! It was, Joel. We talked about the play, I introduced you to Christy (my date for the play), and she thanked you for inspiring me to do the 14-Day Screenplay thing, since I in turn inspired her to do it... and she actually DID it.

We then started talking about producing a play she has written and which theatre in LA would be the best space for it.

It's clear you've entered my subconscious as a Hollywood power player. So there! ;)

11:18 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Ha ha. Right on, Bon. From your subconscious to God's ears! :-D

11:37 AM  
Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I do have some questions to throw out there.

You say that your company is filled with other aspiring writers. How honest were you with your new employer when interviewing? Do they know you are an aspiring screenwriter?

In general, I don't think it would look good if I tell a prospective company that I'm looking to move to LA to make it as a screewriter (and your company looks good for me to bide my time with while I make it big). So I'm wondering what I would say in an interview when they ask me why I'm moving to LA.

I realize that you can throw a rock and hit an aspiring screenwriter in LA (throw it hard) and that for many the job they take to bid their time, they could end up retiring at, but I'd still like to know the mentality of companies in LA.

Any of this blabbering make sense?

7:35 PM  
Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Crymes, your blathering never makes sense.

My work (home inspector - go figure) knows I'm not in it for the long haul and want to write for a living, they also have known this for the last 5 years as I've worked with them for that long but are cool about if I (hopefully) get my pilot off the ground I'm outta there - although they've been good to me so I'll give plenty of notice....how's 5 minutes?

Seriously, good luck with this new direction and I hope it does give you some flexibility to write your ass off.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Sal said...

Good luck, Joel, I hope this works out the way you want it to - let us know how it goes!

11:06 PM  
Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I was specifically referring to a person outside of LA interviewing for LA positions. I wondered what the sentiment within LA businesses typically was towards hiring aspiring screenwriters. Or is there no typically?

4:24 AM  
Blogger TM (Jewlicious) said...

Hey Fun Joel, I just decided to come in and visit after so many months and your life is undergoing some significant changes. Good for you and best of luck in this new job. And best of luck with your continuing writing - I hope you'll find the time and focus.

10:36 AM  
Blogger Esther Kustanowitz said...

Very exciting news...I understand wanting to leave freelancing behind, especially for the right job. May it be all you want it to be!

10:36 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Sorry for the delay in following up.

Crymes -- first and foremost, I must direct you to my first post ever (you can find the link in my side bar under "What Makes You Fun, Joel?"). I have a strong dislike of the phrase, "aspiring screenwriter."

That being said, I did not in any way hide my goals from my employer. In fact, they were the ones to tell me of the others who do it, and the fact that many people still freelance while they are there. This is not seen as a liability, but a plus. Sure, if someone hits it big and leaves, they will need to be replaced. However, they know that good quality writers will want to be doing other writing, and they accept it. Instead, they get the use of their skills for as long as the person stays at the job, which is a good thing for everyone involved.

I think it comes down to perspective. It's not, "I'm just sticking it out at your company until I really hit it." Everyone knows that no matter how good you are, the odds are stacked against us all. So what are the chances that all of us would hit it. And if one does, then everyone is happy for their success! The perspective is, "yes, there are other things I'm trying to do as well, but in the meantime, I'm really happy to be doing this job and doing it well, and you (the company) get good work out of me."

Does that make sense at all?

So, in terms of how that compares to someone moving to LA and applying for jobs, I'm sure it is slightly different, but I'd say the song generally remains the same. You can be honest about your goals, but you must have the right attitude about it all. "Should I make it big as a screenwriter, I won't still be working for you. But although that is my long term goal, I don't expect that to be happening any time in the immediate future."

TM -- Should you come back again soon, thanks! You'll remember that you (encouragingly) berated me the last time you were here. :-)

Esther -- thanks. I know you're going through much of the same at the moment, so I hope things click well for you too.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

My apologies for the "aspiring" moniker, and I agree in principle with your reasoning. I hope you also know that I intended no disrespect, but you are Fun Joel, so I expect you took it in stride and are not a member of the "Ban Tom Crymes from Hollywood" pressure group (their numbers are growing!).

Hopefully I can meet your funness if ever I get out to the left coast.

Last question. What if the job you are going for isn't in the writing field (I'm a programmer)? Do you think the rules change in this respect?

5:10 AM  
Blogger TM (Jewlicious) said...

Ouch, I "berated" you? Hee hee, I've been known to do that. I hope it was a positive berating.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Crymes -- no idea if it is any different! Sorry.

3:01 AM  

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