SENSE OF BELONGING
Growing up I was obsessed with art and crafts, storytelling, and making d-grade movies (clearly not worthy of the b-grade notability) on my mum’s JVC camcorder. I was always a visual learner and steered towards the arts and humanities subjects unlike my science and mathematical counterparts. Naturally I didn’t quite fit in. When I finally spoke to the careers advisor about wanting to be a film director he simply told me to “be more realistic” and focus on a grounded career path like teaching... Fair enough. I didn’t know the first thing about being a director but, at that stage I was not going to let some middle aged man with a receding hairline, coffee stained shirt and a crooked back from slouching at the computer tell me what to do with my life.
Years later, I completed an undergrad degree, organised a working visa, and saved up enough money to move to the States. It wasn’t until I was set-up in Los Angeles, staying in a large creative-living house full of artists, that I felt like I truly belonged. I was home. Allowed to be the artsy person I felt constricted of being back home in the ‘burbs.
Los Angeles is the place to be if you’re wanting to delve into the creative sphere. Whether it be film, fashion, music, art, writing, photography, dancing, etc, you are bound to find people you can connect or collaborate with on a professional and/or personal level.
Creativity really does flourish here, just on a money-fuelled level.
NIGHTLIFE IS AWESOME
I love L.A. nightlife, there are so many cool, quirky bars and speakeasies to discover, often nestled between fast food joints and 7/11’s. Some of my favourites include: Good Times at Davey Wayne’s a 70s retro bar in Hollywood where you must walk through a bar fridge to enter, and Clifton’s Republic in downtown Los Angeles - with nature dioramas surrounding the dance floor, a giant tree shooting towards the third storey, and a jazz floor and tiki bar on separate levels.
MOTIVATES YOU TO WORK HARD
Things move VERY quickly here. As I’ve stated before, "Los Angeles is vast and rapid, constantly moving forward - big Hollywood deals are made over the phone in a heartbeat." Seeing just how hard people work, and how hard you have to work to get to where you want to be, ignites the motivation to stay focused and strive to succeed.
You realise just how far you're capable of pushing yourself, till eventually, you crash and burn. But still, what an exhilarating experience...!
ALWAYS SOMETHING TO DO
You are bound to find some sort of activity or event happening that day or night, after all Los Angeles is the epicentre for entertainment. Here are a few suggestions:
Music festivals, events, concerts. Some are even free like Twilight on the Pier in Santa Monica.
Basketball games at the Staples Centre or baseball games at Dodger Stadium - but seriously who even watches baseball? I presume people just go for the $1 hotdogs cause those games are just as boring as cricket.
Movie premieres and film festivals run throughout the year. Free test screenings are also pretty common around Burbank, you just have to fill out a survey after the movie. One day I even received a random invitation via LinkedIn to a screening of Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at Sony Pictures Studios. I took a friend and we rode in a golf cart around the lot giving ourselves our own private tour before the screening - it was such a great day, and I'm still surprised nobody came and told us off.
Free live audience experiences. You can attend some of your favourite talk shows for free just by applying to 1iota or tvtickets.com - Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden, Ellen Degeneres, Dr. Phil, just to name a few, but be prepared for the wait times. I've also heard some even pay you to sit in their audience - try Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party for some easy money.
Movie/T.V. Pop-ups. When the 3rd season of Stranger Things came out a carnival pop-up in Santa Monica was created, Breaking Bad's El Camino Netflix film also had its very own restaurant & bar experience set up in Weho with novelty food, drinks, and props, and IT Chapter Two put together a Derry Canal Days Festival featuring 10 interactive spaces drawn from scenes of the upcoming thriller.
The Breaking Bad Experience
The rumours are true. I now work with Gus at Los Pollos Hermanos.
SURROUNDED BY YOUTH
We all know that young people generally live in the city so it’ll be a rarity to come across a child or elderly person over the course of a day in L.A.. It’s not that I don’t like families or elderly people. Well, to be fair, screaming children suck, and the elderly are chill just not behind the wheel.
It’s a nice change being surrounded by young adults who are all navigating their way through adulthood; partying together, attending social events, sharing their struggles to pay rent/book an appointment at the DMV, or figuring out how to get their UberEats promo code to work. No way are we going to pay a measly $1.99 on delivery fees. Gotta save for those fresh pair of Yeezys bro.
LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION.
What other major city is within a 40 minute drive from the beach to the mountain ranges? Ok, maybe an hour drive, depending on traffic. Anyway, the location here is great.
You want dry, arid desert? Drive 2hrs to Joshua Tree.
You want snow? Drive 2hrs to Big Bear Lake.
What about a weekend destination trip? For boozed up gambling head 4hrs to Vegas, or for a family getaway head 3hrs down south to San Diego.
Before I even stepped foot in the US I had always heard that everything was bigger, better, and a little over the top. Now that I'm here, I must say I absolutely love that about the States!
The festive parades are larger than life featuring eclectic marching bands led by baton twirling dancers and giant floats covered in floral designs. The Rose Parade every New Years Day in Pasadena is a must-see and great way to start the year. I've definitely never experienced anything like it back home in Oz.
At The Grove mall, the annual Christmas tree stands at 100ft and is brought in by a number of trucks, spray painted an even darker shade of green, and then lit with hundreds of baubles and lights. Not to mention, fake snow falls from the roofs of the surrounding shops each night during the Christmas period. It really is beautiful!
Fireworks for NYE and 4th of July could literally blow me away.
Beautifully designed shopping malls or strips such as the tranquil Century City Westfield or the opulence of Rodeo Drive. I can never afford anything at these places but they sure are lovely to walk around.
Fairy lights twirled perfectly around trees seems excessive but in Beverly Hills what isn't? Driving down these lit up streets is truly magical, as though you are the star of your own Hollywood movie. I don't think I've ever seen one bulb out of place or broken. I wonder if there is a specific person they employ to maintain all those lights, and hopefully they’re solar powered…?
There you have it, just a few of the reasons I love Los Angeles.
Let me know what you love about this unique city in the comments below.
Caitlin is a 20-something broad from Australia with a passion for filmmaking, writing and exploring the world.