Ozzywood to Hollywood (No. 3) - No more comfortable cushion
(First written March 30, 2013)
Hello. Yes, it has been a while I know, slack of me but I guarantee this will be one of the best, most honest reads you’ll have in the months I have been absent.
by Mark Rasmussen
But let me first take the time to apologise and say sorry. When you read below you will know why. So strap yourself in and let’s go on a wild emotional rollercoaster ride shall we. Ready?
Looking back, it’s been six months since I last wrote. Wow, has it really been that long? So what has happened in that time, in the half a year I went missing. Well, lots and even more than that still.
Firstly, I realised a valuable lesson. While my approach was one full of enthusiasm it should have been more about professionalism. So lesson learned after my first submitted script to the companies that showed interest way back in July became silent.
No worries. Learn from it and move on.
Since I last wrote I have set up a home here, bought a car, successfully passed my Californian driver’s licence, been on a few more film sets and lastly, made friends. That last one was always a given but still, it’s nice to know people genuinely respond in kind and like me.
All the hugs I lacked when moving here have been more than made up. I really do seem to attract the right kinds of kindred spirits and like-minded, warm, affectionate souls.
Two of the film sets I found myself on contained a multi-award winning writer/director/producer whose last film won over 30 awards, as well as the brother of a very famous A-list actor. And no, I won’t tell you so don’t ask. But that was a fantastic experience and the start of a wonderful relationship between the director and myself.
But that was back in October.
At the same time I was turning 40 and hitting my goal of being in the best possible place and space mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually (all of which I achieved), I was also facing the very real and frightening realisation that I would eventually run out of money.
Setting up a life in a new country does not come cheap. But that’s life, you either sink or swim. Laugh or cry.
So when December rolled around and this normally thriving town began to shut down for the holiday period, I was staring at my dwindling bank balance wondering, what now?
For the first time in years I no longer had a comfortable cushion of over $10,000+. I was staring down the barrel and looking at a balance of just $400. Four hundred dollars! Can you imagine that? Add the fact that rent is $1000, without including living expenses, and you see my predicament.
Amazingly, and this may surprise most of you, I never panicked. Sure, there were one to two weeks at the start of December where a little worry crept in, wondering what I would do, but I had done a huge amount of work on myself that I simply “Zen-ed” myself through it and didn’t think about it. That’s right, I didn’t think about it. Crazy right?
But it worked. As fearless and positive as I am, this just represented a new challenge. One that I was more than up for.
Strangely, Bob Marley and his beautiful song, ‘Three Little Birds’ constantly entered my mind with the very memorable chorus, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” And it was.
After those first two weeks I simply let it go knowing something would turn up. It always does.
In the meantime, I had a belated birthday present/early Christmas gift to myself to enjoy. Two days in Disneyland with my best friend here. It came at a fantastic time.
Any dark clouds which may have been circling overhead simply evaporated. How could they not right? I was in the happiest place on Earth.
It was exactly what I needed. Running around with someone I love who was just as much a big kid as me, was fantastic. I had my photo taken with Mickey, high-fived any other Disney characters I saw, played on all the rides – big and small – and simply had fun, laughing, smiling and lovin’ life all the way around the park.
Guess what? Something did turn up.
Just as the end of 2012 was reaching its climax, an unexpected New Year’s gift came my way. Some work, and a highly paid one. And no it didn’t involve me having to go sell my arse down on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. But thank you for thinking it. I’m sure it would fetch a high price all the same.
But nope, this guy is making it as cleanly and purely as possible and by remaining calm and not worrying it all worked out.
That job, which was five days of work from a man I am deeply grateful for back home, scored me enough money to last until, well, now.
How are my nerves? Ice-cold calm. I’ve been here before and some great things are cooking. I am making my way in more ways than one and I am excited by what lies ahead.
January through February was a whirlwind of activity. I met an elderly guy who has been in the industry for over 30 years, and is both someone extremely well known and respected by many.
He required a volunteer. I jumped at the chance. As a result, by doing some simple tasks I have fast-tracked my career.
You see, he runs a very unique college here for writers. I say “college” because he doesn’t teach you how to write, he simply sets up small, intimate meetings with top production companies, agencies and managers for a select few aspiring writers to be part of.
People are paying $500 for this privilege to have their one-sheets taken away. My price? Write up a few letters and emails, make some phone calls and be of assistance. And who did I meet in the two separate weeks I attended?
Clint Eastwood’s company, Reese Witherspoon’s, Natalie Portman’s, Morgan Freeman’s, Joel Schumacher’s, ICM, Paradigm, Gersh, WME, Paul Haggis’s manager, among others.
I was given unprecedented access to some of the top production companies, agencies and managers here in Hollywood. In the process, developing a relationship and rapport, and if you know this industry, it really is all about who you know.
Imagine that? Me, in front of the best people, the best companies and listening to them talk and asking them questions for the best part of an hour every time.
Here’s everyone else struggling to get a single meeting and I’m having six or seven a day for three to four days straight on more than one occasion. And I have their emails and phone numbers. What’s not to love?
Another little thing. One of the companies I met is keen on one of my new ideas as a result. Taking what I learned back in July and August, this time I am taking my time with it. I have given myself two months to write. That’s an outline, that’s several drafts and that’s a completed, highly professional script.
But that hasn’t been all. Yes, if this was a Demtel commercial, then it really would be a case of, “Wait, there’s more.” Where’s Tim Shaw when I need him?
That relationship I told you about earlier, the award winning writer/director/producer. Well, she found out I was a writer. Her co-producer, a great friend of mine here, wants to shoot a short film. Guess who’s writing it?
Not only that, she has access to named talent here in LA, so it will be a short film with named people and award winners attached. Not bad for a kid whose humble beginnings began back in a little room above a pub.
And what of the money and work? I agree, it’s a tough economic climate here in the US, so everyone hustles. But I am using that to my advantage also and it looks like I have all but secured a job, one that not only pays very well for US standards but where I can freelance, work part-time, cover all my expenses and affords me the luxury of what it is I came here for – my writing. Thank you Universe, Hello love.
Most recently I contributed to the pre-production of a TV game show, which was fun, fun, fun. That all came about through a guy from a writing course I took late last year which has not only taken my writing to a whole other level, but also turned up a great, blossoming friendship that continues to grow.
While Karel may not like to hear this, I have a new man-hug lover in my circle of friends. Happy days.
I have also befriended the producers of critically acclaimed film, The Sessions. Two of the very funniest people you’re ever likely to meet. The fact that they are Australian helped. I also ran into Jackie Weaver who took my business card and complimented me on it.
Thank you Universe, and indeed thank you life. For just as others may crack and wilt under less, I have continued to thrive and shine.
Great people, great experiences and a lifetime of memories are flooding my life. While I won’t reveal all aspects, some things will remain private and personal, know that this Aussie kid is doing the best he can, and smiling my way through it all.
If you can remember my very first blog, I said I would make it here. That now rings louder and truer than ever.
LA is very much home. Every day I stare in wonder at the beauty that surrounds me. The mountains which encase this great city. The constant warm sunshine filtering down (even in winter). The people opening up their minds and hearts to me.
I feel a real sense of belonging, something I have not felt for a long time. So much so, I have renamed Los Angeles, Love Angeles.
So as the adventure continues, here’s to every dreamer and believer following their own passion and path. Every day I am here is one step closer to realising mine.