Welcome! I'm Katie Toomey, a freelance video editor living here in Los Angeles, CA. I started this “Get Moving” interview series in what feels like a long overdue fashion. After having many approach me about my own moving blog and how helpful it was to have another experience to read about or relate to, it sparked me to interview others in our industry who have made a move somewhere for their own work.
My aim is to help broaden the reach to share these stories for others out there, like me, who wanted to hear more perspectives to help build confidence, to relate to planning worries and execution woes, and to understand the struggles and even successes more fully. This series will hopefully help you gain wisdom to be better informed when and if taking that risk and leap for yourself.
I myself have made a rather large move (the biggest I've ever done to date) moving from the East coast in NC to the West coast to LA just last year. I wrote my “East to West Coast Moving Adventure” on Creative Cow very soon afterwards to document the process. I've been living in LA ever since. All these experiences will combine to make a collective resource that anyone can access - from any where, at any time. If you don’t know anyone who’s done this sort of thing, it can feel very isolating and impossible to manage on your own. You shouldn’t have to face this alone - and now, you won’t have to.
Andy Young is a director and video editor, primarily working in comedy. He’s 27 years old and moved from Austin, TX to Los Angeles, CA back in 2016. Originally, he was born and raised in from New Orleans, LA from 1991 onward. Then, in 1998, Andy moved to Sugar Land, TX for his father’s work, lived there until his high school graduation, and then moved towards Montana to study film at MSU in 2009.
Andy realized he didn’t enjoy spending the winters in misery, as the cold and him didn’t mix at all, so in 2010, he ended up moving to Austin, TX (about 2 1/2 hours from Sugar Land, in fact). Later in July of 2016, he moved over to LA.
This wasn’t the first time Andy had been in the City of Angels. Back in the summer of 2014, he had a brief stint in LA for two months as part of a study abroad program. Back then, he didn’t really like the idea of living in LA and had wanted to come back to his home and familiar life in Austin. After all, he lived in Austin for 6 1/2 years, but in Texas itself for 18 years total before making his move to LA.
Three days, two film dorks, 27 hours and several sing-a-longs of Hamilton in a sedan filled to the brim.
Andy: It’s funny, thinking back on it my move wasn’t nearly as stressful as I thought it would be; I helped my folks move out of my childhood home around the same time, and there was a houseful of boxes and memories, several pets… I thought it would be like that. But I lived with my girlfriend in Austin, and almost all of the furniture was hers.
When I started packing for LA I realized how little I actually owned! An IKEA bookshelf & bedside table, a computer monitor, my clothes, a projector & Xbox, some books, posters & DVDs…I didn’t even need to rent a U-Haul, as everything I owned fit into my sedan with just barely enough room for my college buddy and I to fit into the front seats.
Katie: What event or situation sparked the move?
2015 was a slow year for me; my friends at my old internship Ralph Smyth threw me the odd on-set or AE gig, I did a ton of Craigslist hunting, and I was directing sketches for my friends, but aside from that there just wasn’t any work out there for me - or really anyone, as the Texas government was already cracking down on their entertainment budget and their ongoing attempt to kill the Texas Film Industry was already growing, all the gigs primarily went to New Orleans or Atlanta. I barely made $9,000 that year.
My one steady gig was RoosterTeeth; some creatives there liked my thesis film and were looking for new blood, so every once and a while they’d have me edit videos or write sketches or punch-up scripts. I even got to direct something, but it unfortunately never saw the light of day; as much as I wanted to, I just didn’t gel creatively with a lot of the higher ups, and what I felt were my best ideas always ended up on the cutting room floor.
Yet despite that, I started hearing rumblings in November that they were eyeing me for a ‘content-creator’ position; I’d get to make & work on projects seen by millions of people, get health insurance, and a salary that was not only livable, compared to what I was making then, it was a king’s ransom.
But... it just wasn’t for me. I couldn’t see myself working there, and I also knew they were the only game in town. I knew that I couldn’t live off Craigslist gigs forever. When they approached me with the offer, after two days of soul searching and asking colleagues for advice, I politely turned them down and said that I was moving to Hollywood. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make; aside from turning down all the aforementioned benefits, I was moving away from all my friends, a city/state I loved, and a girlfriend I wanted to marry. But even she told me to turn it down, and test out LA.
Can you tell us some of the ways that the new area(s) differs from some of the other places you've lived or the last place you lived? What is similar and different for you? What do you like and dislike about your new area?
I like to say LA is 17 versions of Austin all ‘frankensteined’ together. Some are big and corporate, some are small and creative, but all of them are SUPER expensive. I’ve yet to find Texas-Quality queso out here. It was really overwhelming at first, but now that I’ve been here a few years…well, it’s still overwhelming!
Sometimes, I miss how small Austin was by comparison, but two years in I have a better grasp on what areas I like to hang out in, go on dates, meet up with friends, etc. Biggest things I miss about Texas are BBQ, queso, Shiner beer, Whataburger & the Alamo Drafthouse. Traffic was always bad in Austin too, but out here it’s a whole other level. I’m lucky in that I live right next to the 101 & 405, which makes it a little easier, but I still spend a big chunk of my week sitting in my car, so an ever-expanding list of podcasts & audiobooks is a must.
How did you begin to prepare for the move? What was most important to start right away on researching or doing for preparation?
This probably isn’t the answer you’re looking for, but it was very important to me; three months before I moved, I made a week-long trip to LA. I rented the cheapest car I could, crashed on friends couches and spent every day going to 3-5 meetings, lunches, or even networking events to make sure I could make a go of it here. I set most of them up beforehand leaving a little time for other meetings I’d set up along the way and some time to just explore different parts of the city. I didn’t have anything concrete, but by the end of the week, I knew I had to be there.
What did you use to help plan your route? Did you fly, drive, or otherwise teleport to your new location?
Embarrassingly I didn’t really have a “plan” in that sense. I knew we’d be driving, and since there are so many stretches of desert and nothingness (aka: ‘no gas stations’) I got my car inspected a few days before we left and we never let the gas dip below 50 miles.
We did the drive in three days: On the first we put in the address of a house my brother was staying at in Taos, NM, the second day we put in my new LA address to see how far we felt like going, and then of course the last day we just finished it off.
Do you have any packing tips and tricks for us?
Figure out what you can do without. I took a LOT of books, clothes, appliances and DVDs to Goodwill before I moved. With some things, it’s just cheaper to get them in the new city rather than drag them across the country.
What sort of challenges did you face trying to save or come up with the budget needed?
So around the time I turned down RoosterTeeth and was broke-as-a-joke trying to figure out how I could even afford to move, I started editing videos for an amazing writer/comedian/YouTuber named Zach Anner. A few weeks after I passed, he told me he had two big upcoming projects: a talk show for SoulPancake called Top of the Monday, and his hilarious new book “If At Birth You Don’t Succeed” which he’d be making a lot of videos for to promote. I essentially became his go-to editor from December 2015 to May 2016, and that became my moving/LA budget.
I was already used to living frugally, but I took it to any extremes I could think of to save every dime towards LA. No eating out, canceled most of my subscription services, no bars, no new clothes or video games, and I barely saw any films in theaters in that time or when I did, they were morning matinees.
For the trip itself I looked at approx mileage and did a rough calculation of how much it would cost for gas, hotels, and a one-way flight to Austin for my friend driving with me.
What would you -not- recommend cutting costs on when considering a move?
Cheap boxes & tape!! Some of mine even fell apart in the car as we were driving so I had to carry everything in pieces later.
How did you mentally prepare for the move?
There’s this great article by DC Pierson that really helped me. It wasn’t necessarily practical information on moving and our stories were a little different, but it helped me get into the right headspace before heading down there.
What is something you absolutely couldn’t live without in the new area/place? Your hard line of "I'm not moving unless..." moment.
When I decided to move, the timing worked out where two of my best friends from film school, James & Grayson, were already in LA and looking for a bigger place. We had a shared doc of listings, but since they were the ones already in LA, I ultimately trusted their judgement to find a good place.
My requirements were AC, parking, dibs on the master bedroom (I like having my own bathroom and wanted the space if/when my girlfriend & cat moved in with us). I also had my fingers crossed we'd have some good stuff in walking distance from us and they did not disappoint; I can walk to the grocery store, library, several cafe’s, my favorite ramen spot, and even an indie movie theater.
Did you ever find yourself at a low point and feeling like giving up or saying no the opportunity? Were there any times that people tried to talk you out of it or alternately were they supportive and helped you stay focused/encouraged?
Every single day. Like I said, what I was walking away from constantly made it tempting to crawl back to RoosterTeeth, so I could keep living with my girlfriend. It wasn’t like I had a big job lined up in LA, I just knew there was more there than in Texas - and probably would be for a long time. But no one ever tried to talk me out of it; sans one friend of mine who later admits I probably made the right call, everyone told me I was making the right decision.
How does managing all this have an effect on your sleeping, physical health, and your mental health, do you think?
The worst; I was having horrible stomach cramps every day, very little sleep, high anxiety all the time. It started clearing up once I got out here and got settled. That brain-gut connection is more powerful for some than others, but that was really tough.
THE MOVE ITSELF
I got very lucky/excited when my college-buddy/good friend/co-conspirator Matt Stryker agreed to help me move. As I’m typing this, I honestly can’t think of a short film one of us worked on in college that the other didn’t produce, AD, co-edit, script sup, boom op, PA or at bare-minimum give pages of in-depth notes on. No ‘Andy Young set’ was complete without my drinking buddy, and I was relieved my move wouldn’t be either.
We did make one big scenic-route out of the way to Taos, NM where my brother, Jon, was building houses that ran on renewable energy (aka: Earthships). After 12 hours of driving, filled with several WTF podcasts and at least two full back-to-back singalongs of Hamilton, we made it to an Air B&B that Jon was staying at. My Mom & Grandparents happened to be in-town visiting him & celebrating my Nanny (grandma)’s birthday, so we stayed an extra day with them eating great Mexican food and exploring the city - which was just what I needed to cool some of my anxiety I was already having about the move.
The next afternoon we took turns driving and picking who’d sing the Burr-parts, until about 9 hours later we arbitrarily picked a dinky motel in Flagstaff, Arizona to stay the night. Not much to report, Stryker cut a short he was making while I caught up with my girlfriend via Skype. That night we stopped by the local theater to see Spielberg’s THE BFG (along with one of the strangest local ads I have and will ever see), and got some shut-eye. Around 8am, we grabbed some complimentary bagels for the road, and 6 hrs later we pulled up to my new home, a 3-bedroom apartment in Encino with two of my best friends from film school.
After a 4th of July weekend of eating hot dogs, drinking cheap beer and seeing some old friends around town, I put Stryker on a one-way Southwest flight to Austin and headed to the DMV to get my CA driver’s license (or, at least, to try to).
AFTER THE MOVE
How long did it take to settle into your new place in your new area? In new job duties?
At first it was kind of liberating to start over; I changed the address on all my bills, got a library card and driver’s license, and slowly started to integrate myself in the community. If I’m being honest, I still don’t feel like LA is my home. But everyday, it feels a little more like it.
What's your unpacking and getting situated process like?
Infrequent. I spent a lot of those first few weeks sleeping on the couch and driving around LA with a trunk full of old DVDs. Part laziness, part putting off expensive furniture purchases as long as possible. After putting it off as long as I could (remember, I was making ZERO income), I stopped by Goodwills, IKEAs and Costcos alike to get a bed frame, a bed, a desk.
Did you feel homesick ever or miss your old town? If so, how do you deal with those feels?
Every day. I missed my friends, the low cost of living, the community. Worst of all, I had a girlfriend and cat I missed desperately, and I knew all of us were feeling lonely because of me.
IMPORTANT ADVICE FOR LONG-DISTANCE COUPLES: Use Rabbit. It was recommended to me by my friend Marshall when him & his girlfriend were long distance. It’s basically Skype but with an internet window built-in so we could play games, read articles and - most importantly - watch TV & movies together. We watched an entire season of Broadchurch in two days (see her reactions below). And there were countless nights where we’d just leave the window up and listen to each other sleep.
If you’re in a long distance relationship that you both want to make work, it’s important to carve out time in your lives for each other. Having the light at the end of the tunnel of her moving to LA in May 2017 was a big help too.
If you arrived 'hot' to town without a job, how did you manage to find work? -OR- If you came to your new area with a job in tow, how did that go?
I guess I was a mix of the two; I had some big names/companies on my resume and glowing recommendations from directors & producers that liked working with me, but I still spent my first three weeks unemployed. Outside a few film school friends, I didn’t know a soul. But even when I’m not working, I’m always working; every days I’d set up meetings and try to do anywhere from 2-5 a day. It gave me a good excuse to run all over town and get a lay of the land. Eventually I got my first gig, and things started to snowball from there.
What opportunities do you have available to you now (either that you didn't have before or have more of now) Do you find you have more or less work opportunities?
I’ve worked for big companies like CollegeHumor, SoulPancake, Cracked, Fusion and Nickelodeon. I’ve edited TV shows, viral videos, big commercials, political ads, and shorts that premiered at huge festivals. I’ve even worked with David Zucker, one of my favorite filmmakers of all-time. Most of these are things I couldn’t have done in Austin, or anywhere but LA.
How has moving changed your life, for better or worse or in-between/uncertain? Do you have one last bit of advice to someone facing a move?
I have droughts and floods of work like every freelancer, but I’m making way more than I would have if I had stayed in Texas, with-or-without the RoosterTeeth job. I consider myself very lucky; my girlfriend moved/stayed with me (I proposed and she said “yes” a few months ago!), I’ve had enough steady work that I’m slowly starting to save for upcoming major expenses, and I’ve found a lot of great friends out here. It doesn’t happen for everyone.
But I moved knowing I could completely fall on my face and lose everything, because a little voice in my head ran a feedback loop all throughout 2015 that said, “If you don’t try now, you’ll spend the rest of your life wondering ‘what if’, and it’ll drive you mental.”
Sometimes you just have to take the risk, work hard, and hope for the best.