Through a very unlikely contact I was able to get my spec script read by a Hollywood producer with a strong track record. We spoke over the phone a few times about my script, and more specifically about what it is I want to do career-wise. I guess I chose my words wisely on our phone conversations because he’s hired me to be his assistant. I am beyond ecstatic that once his current assistant leaves in two weeks I begin my employment. So my bags are packed and my wife and I are driving across the country this weekend to chase my dream.
And I’m a little anxious about this transition. Once I get to Los Angeles my life is going to become very busy very fast. I am more than prepared for that. However I find myself stressing over the inevitable stress this is going to put on my relationship with my wife.
Any tips on being able to balance a 25-hour work schedule and a spouse at home? My wife has been MORE than supportive, and we’ve discussed the reality of the amount of time I’m going to (not) be around. But I still feel this is a cause for concern. Especially given the fact we are not going to know anyone when we first get there.
First off, congrats on the new gig.
You’re right: you will probably be working your ass off, both in the official components of your job and all the peripheral aspects — meeting folks, learning the landscape, and of course, writing more screenplays.
But I don’t know that starting your new job in Hollywood is much different than getting hired as an investment banker in New York, as a coder at a start-up in San Francisco or as a fighter pilot for the Air Force. It’s long hours and a lot of stress, regardless of the actual field you’re working in. It can take its toll on relationships.
So this advice applies to anyone moving somewhere new with a loved one.
You’re getting a shot to do what you dream of doing, and while it’s great that she’s joining you, she shouldn’t simply be +1 to your ambitions. So I’d encourage your wife to make a list of what she’d most want to do if time/money/geography weren’t a factor. And then do them.
If she wants to teach karate, she should teach. If she wants to travel through Europe, she should probably travel through Europe — as inexpensively as possible. At some point, you’ll probably have kids and everything will get twenty times more complicated. If there are things she wants to do, she should do them now-ish.
Moving to Los Angeles isn’t like moving to a small town in Kansas, where there’s pretty much one experience. LA can be a vastly different place based on where you choose to live. But there’s one commonality: almost everyone here moved from someplace else. It’s a city of dreamers — though I feel a little nauseous just typing that.
When I hired Ryan as my Director of Digital Things, he moved from Missouri. On the blog, we talked about where he should live — and that’s a factor for you and your wife. You want an area that matches your goals and interests, filled with people roughly your age. Upon moving in, knock on doors and meet your neighbors. My experience is that LA people are generally friendly, but shy to introduce themselves. Take the initiative. Don’t just make passing eye contact on your way to the car. Get a grill. Make burgers. Borrow someone’s stepladder.
Your wife should get a job with people she likes. I know that in a tough economy any employment can seem like a luxury, but a shittier job with cooler people is absolutely worth it when you’re new to a place. A few work-friends will inevitably become actual-friends.
Finally, don’t build a giant wall between work and home. If you have to stay late at the office, she can bring dinner to eat together. Read scripts together. Quality time isn’t as important as face time.
Hollywood isn’t the CIA. Let her know what happens at work, and include your home life in work conversation. I’ve known all my assistants’ husbands and wives, girlfriends and significant someones. I’ve met most of their parents. Your wife won’t feel as isolated if you involve her in your work life.