Ozzywood to Hollywood – Part Deux

So I’m two months into my Los Angeles, Hollywood life and for the most part it’s gone smoothly. There’s been very few hiccups (if any), and you could say it’s been relatively easy to adjust.

by Mark Rasmussen

Perhaps even more remarkably, I am making my way and achieving results.

And that’s great. I need that. I need to know I am on the right path as a writer and uprooting myself from a comfortable, safe life, to that of the unknown and following my heart, has been a good decision.

But it’s a path fraught with danger, rejection and loneliness.

It’s the last part that is the hardest to take. Especially for someone who despite enjoying and loving my own company, loves being social, meeting people, talking and conversing and simply mixing it up.

As humans we need this as it feeds our soul and enriches our lives.

LA’s a lonely city. Not many people walk around. As a writer, I couldn’t have chosen a more solitary pursuit but when mixed with a city that’s all but desolate of life out on the streets (except the freeways which are teeming with people), it’s a lonely city.

LA’s a lonely city. Not many people walk around.
As a writer, I couldn’t have chosen a more solitary pursuit

Thankfully for an outgoing guy like myself, I just get out there, do fun things and talk to everyone. It also helps that I have one or two really great friends who have taken me out and shown me sites and introduced me to people. Without them I would be lost.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, especially to one in particular who is just so inspiring, unique and special. You know who you are but know I am deeply grateful.

I choose not to whine or complain about loneliness, it’s simply the nature of the beast here. On the flip-side, however, things have been going great. Better than expected (if I had any expectations).

I came with the 16th annual Hollywood Pitch Festival in mind. A weekend of pitch meetings with companies and agencies – 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Disney, Henson, ICM, Paradigm – that you would never get the chance to meet let alone sit down in front of and discuss your ideas and scripts.

Despite having five ideas, I soon whittled it down to three but after discussing them with two considered friends in the industry, I decided to pursue my strongest. I’m glad I did as it paid dividends.

After much rehearsing my pitch at home, I was as ready as I was ever going to be. To say that my first ever professional pitching experience was a baptism of fire would be an understatement. But surprisingly I didn’t feel overwhelmed, nervous or afraid. I simply felt I had a very good idea and like almost all the other writers at the event, I belonged.

I went in pitching a family comedy. First company was Disney. Although initially I had wanted to get warmed up and into a routine, another writer merely pointed out that it was good to get them from the get go. They were fresh, hadn’t been swamped with tons of pitches and would be more than enthusiastic.

This is exactly how I approached it. Enthusiastically. Besides, what’s the worse that can happen? They can only say no. My life and my writing do not end on the back of one rejection.

I got such great feedback and input throughout the entire weekend (some even complimenting me on my pitching technique), and from a total of 35 companies that I sat and met with, 20 asked for my one-sheet/synopsis, while two on the day requested my script. With two more after the dust had settled, also asking for it.

That’s a win in any one’s language.

from a total of 35 companies that I sat and met with,
20 asked for my one-sheet/synopsis,
while two on the day requested my script.

Only thing is, I then needed to work my arse off to get a virtually nonexistent script up to scratch and completed. All inside a one-two week timeframe.

Again, no need to panic. I am a writer. I have been taught by a great mentor, guru and friend. I’ve been around other writers who have offered their thoughts and opinions and I had some help from a revered professional screenwriter and master, Blake Snyder (through his books). Sadly, Blake is no longer with us.

I structured it all out first, laid out my beats, had my spine, then created a board of 40 scenes and simply filled in the blanks.

It worked!

As yet, I do not know how well (or how badly) but my script is with four companies. That’s four more than I would have had before coming here and pitching.

My mentor had told me not to rest on my laurels, as “writing is rewriting,” he would say. It’s true. For now, I let it sit for a week as I play catch up with life.

You see, I still have to live. I need to buy food, a car, get a California drivers’ license and find another apartment once this current sublet is up. But all the time I am thinking and writing in my head.

Thinking as I shop at Ralph’s (the US’s major supermarket). Writing, as I test drive a car. Doing both as I set up a US cell phone number or traipse through yet another apartment or room.

All the time I am thinking and writing in my head.

It all helps. It gets me out of my cave and out into the real world. A world that as desolate and lonely as it might appear here in Los Angeles, is fun, enjoyable, exciting, new and real. It really is.

In the two months I have been here, I have had some great, fun conversations. From a guy who told me, “ Don’t forget to push the magic button,” as I waited at the lights, to my very frank conversation with my phone guy about how women in their 40s will want to take me out for dinner, and more.

It’s that contact with everyday people that makes me realise LA is not all that lonely a place to be. It’s like anywhere really.

What you put in, you get out.

In two months, I’ve been on two film sets, one even had the Hollywood sign in the background as we stood on a rooftop filming. That was both a very surreal moment and one of pure joy.

In two months, I have kayaked the LA river. Something only 200 people in all of LA County have ever had the lucky privilege of doing.

In two months, I have spoken with numerous writers, I have pitched to 35 companies, and banged out a script in a week.

In two months, I have smiled, laughed, rejoiced at how far I have come in such a short space of time.

Who knows what will happen in the next two months or the two months after that. One thing I can tell you for certain, this is an incredible journey and I am so grateful to have taken the leap of faith, follow my heart (and passion) and simply embrace life, LA and everyone and everything in it.

The city of Angels a lonely city? Not bloody likely.

-Mark Rasmussen

Mark Rasmussen has been a professional writer for over 15 years covering music, sport, travel, plays, web and more.
In 2011 Mark was involved in six film projects, three of which he wrote, produced or co-produced. One of his films ranked inside the Top 10 of a public vote.
Mark’s currently working on six feature scripts and two shorts and is now based in LA to chase down dreams.

13 thoughts on “Ozzywood to Hollywood – Part Deux”

  1. Thanks for the blog Mark. It’s great hearing about your adventures. I had a brain explosion film idea while reading your paragraph about the conversation with phone guy. Concept – An Australian screenwriter moves to LA to pursue his dreams and accidentally becomes a gigolo. It has a happy ending, unlike Sunset Boulevarde. (and many happy endings throughout!)

  2. So you pitched a script, four people requested it, and only then did you write it… in two weeks…

    Two thoughts here:
    1) perhaps next time you might consider doing the above in a different order.

    2) do you think that people in Hollywood might notice, from reading the script, that you wrote it in two weeks?

    • Was never my intention for it to go this way, Clive. I merely wanted to see if my idea/s had wings first. They did. I had always wanted to have a finished screenplay before the event but well, life. Having said that, if you actually structure a screenplay correctly using the techniques required and needed, it can easily be done in a week. Would I have liked more time to go back and clean it up, yes. But we shall see if Hollywood like what I have or not. It can easily be rewritten and knocked further into shape. I’ll keep you posted. ;-)

      • You can write a script in a day if someone puts a gun to your head. But my point is, why would anybody in the industry want to read it?

        Perhaps you could print ‘It can easily be rewritten and knocked further into shape’ on the front of all your scripts, just in case an industry reader thought that what you’ve submitted is your best work.

        Seriously, though, this blog taps in the idea (very popular amongst beginners) that screenwriting is all about coming up with a brilliant idea that might make a cool film (‘the hard bit’) and then banging out a screenplay in a week (‘the easy bit’). It’s not like that. It’s the other way around. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself this. Why are writers paid the big money for the actual writing, rather than the coming up with the brilliant cool ideas?

        • Point taken. Know this is not how I normally approach my writing, but I will continue to learn, forge ahead, grow and develop. I originally had five to pitch, stuck with one – it worked as I got company interest. But the others I will now write before going further and will indeed do with all my scripts. While this one, will be rewritten and improved all the time whether they bite or not. I know what I need to do and I will do it. :-)

          • To be fair, Clive, this was an idea that has been formulating in my head for 3+ years. I’ve also spent the last year working intensely on the my logline & synopsis, and gotten feedback from other writers for improvements. So know it was no 2minute noodle idea.

          • I’m glad this idea wasn’t something you came up with in the shower on the day of the pitch, but my point still remains:

            Formulating idea in head for 3+ years – good!

            Spent the last year working intensely on logline & synopsis – good!

            wrote script in 1-2 weeks (was it one or two?) and delivered it to the industry – are you insane?!?

            Am I the only one who thinks this? Are there any other professional writers reading this, or am I the only one? Help me out here guys!

          • Clive, sometimes you just gotta strike when the iron’s hot. Of course one wants to deliver the best script possible, but sometimes an idea fits a gap that people have funding for. It does happen. I just had a film financed from a synopsis. So don’t worry about it. You don’t have to do it that way, but I just did.

  3. Great story. An inspiration to us all.

    Can I ask, how did you get a visa? I have often daydreamed about such a move but always came back to the same problem – needing a visa. Or more importantly, needing a job to get a visa.

    • Thanks Paul. There are so many different visa types. It’s well worth looking into them all. Some are easier to get than others but worth the pain of trawling through endless info. Google and a few websites will become your best friend. It’s worth it in the end.

  4. Hey Mark…….Congratulations on all that you have achieved I hope that your next small note to all of us through Karel’s group will tell us you have struck the big time. And one of those scripts will come to fruition. All the best…….Kartia


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