So you want to work in Hollywood?
The best advice I got was simple, too simple for me to apply for almost 10 years. It goes like this- Figure out what you want, because that is what you are going to get.
Applying this isnt as easy as it sounds. LA is a jungle with a river of gold in the middle. The gold might be the literal wealth, or it may be some sort of personal satisfaction of fame, accomplishment, landmark achievement, maybe just a regular job in a trade, whatever. Along your path in the jungle there are beautiful and exotic flowers and animals that can enthrall you, kill you, enlighten you, or merely drug you into stupor. There are slimy and shaky rocks, that you must climb over and on to get to the next solid step. There are predators, from the Greyhound station to the executive suites. There are more distractions than the amusement parks. The jungle eats the ambitious achiever as well or as often as the incompetent crook.
Once you have an idea what you want, tell everybody you meet. Be willing to do what it takes to stay alive any given day, but make sure everyone knows what you want.
The more fun you can be to be around the better. So have a great attitude, or get yours adjusted. Flirt with everyone, and sleep with nobody (in the biz, unless it is good for your biz .If you arent sure its good for your biz, it isnt). Always have a believable quasi - legitimate out (This is the only redeeming value to herpes). And the more fun you are to be around, the more fun you have, and if you arent having fun, you ought to go home.
Do everything you can to support other people being and getting what they want. This can be a lot of fun too.
Dont ask for anything from someone who cant say yes. There are two types of people in any biz. The two types are Juniors and Heavies. In Hollywood, Juniors have all the accessories that make them look like they have significance and can say yes. But they cant. Juniors waste a lot of your time, especially if they think they can sleep with you, which they will if your are being any fun to be around at all (see above).
Heavies dont waste your time or theirs. They have real lives, with real mates, and can afford real pleasures. They walk around wishing someone would come up with something they can say yes to. Heavies walk the plank if they say yes to the wrong stuff, so they need to be sold complete, ready to eat, cost effective, profit producing, not in development, ideas (even if development is their biz).
Dont ask for something you cant take the next step with. Rehearse the next step like a mother, and when someone says yes, put on the performance of your life.
Heavies often look like nobodies, so you better study up on everybody you meet. I wish Id bought a contact manager the first time someone said to. I wish I had the number of the producer I bell-hopped on my summer job about eight years later when I had a script and he had a deal with money and no property. Wish I had just kept up every relationship with every person I worked with as I went along. The town is small and every contact can weave the good reputation that will get you the opportunity to ask, and be told yes. It can take years to build a rep, and one misstep to destroy it. Bad news travels fast. So the contact with you has to be positive, and they have to know what you want.
Dont think that your success or failure has anything to do with your talent, ability, skill, or lack of any of those or other qualities. Do approach your success as having a lot to do with statistical probability and do everything you can to help your odds (see all of above).
On any given day how many people know: you, what you can do, what you want, and need any of what you have to offer? Of those who might know you and be in a position to need you, how long since they heard from you? I lived four years in this biz either working, vacationing, or making 50 calls a day or until I got a job offer. I never made 50 calls before I got an offer. I might not like the job, but then it was my choice, if the bank account needed it or not, surf was up, whatever. While doing anything, or while turning it down, do it really well. Be as enjoyable as hell to be around. Love everybody. Make sure they all know what you want.
On any assignment, two things will make all the difference in the world- 1)be on time- this is so obvious and so rarely done that it boggles the mind. 2) Admit your errors, especially early on, and clean them up. These two things are so rare because everybody wants to win, but hardly anybody is willing to practice. Since success is just going from failure to failure with enthusiasm, get good at failing, and either landing on your feet, or getting up and going on.
Do these things enough and you will get offered more challenging and interesting work, maybe even stuff you dont know how to do. People with something at stake value these behaviors so much that you will be around higher quality situations naturally.
After awhile you might actually get to be what you want a bit. Be great at it, or be great when you fail at it.
While all this is going on, make sure you leave town monthly. Go into nature or just normal life often enough to be able to recognize the game for what it is. This also helps correct your bullshit meter, which you need to have calibrated. Like the rest of human anatomy, your bs meter gets acclimated to the predominant atmosphere, rendering it worse than useless- dangerous.
Take care of yourself. Do not be fooled into thinking you can run at 110% all the time. Run at 80% so you can kick it up a level when called upon. Do learn to stay up all night, because at some point you will need to be your best and it will be at 4:30am after a 20 hour day. At one point I stayed up one night a week, whether I needed to or not. Combine this with being a lot of fun to be around and flirting. Do not party the night before any new assignment. (see "be on time").
Live above what a friend of mine calls the "bum line". The bum line is that altitude above which no bum or criminal,(who are basically too incompetent to figure out how to get their own gold, so they want to take yours) will go. This can be in the many hills around, or just up enough stairs to be inconvenient to bums. Have parking as part of your housing set-up. Street parking does not count.
Lots of folks melt down at the point of getting what they want. When you get what you want, know what you are going to do next. Then do it.
Know that it is possible to live a whole life, be a successful ,creative, well compensated, talented human, and never have anybody say yes to you. You create what you want anyhow. And what you wanted what you have you created.