Hollywood Drive – To Drive, or Not to Drive

Cars are a way of life here in Hollywood – for work, for play, and for peace of mind. L.A. is a vast city. It’s the second most populous city in the United States after NYC – stretching over 450 square miles. Los Angeles has over 200 different districts, neighborhoods, and independent cities within its borders.

The entertainment industry doesn’t make travel any easier. Studios and production companies are located in every corner of Los Angeles.  Paramount, 20th Century FOX, and CBS are scattered throughout Hollywood and Century City. In the north you have Universal, Disney, and Warner Brothers. And then you have Sony in the southeast. Not only are the studios and production companies far apart, but also so are the equipment, prop, and costume rental houses as well as the truck yards.

The L.A. is big and crowded, which means: traffic, traffic, and more traffic. When you live in a city known for its bumper-to-bumper commutes you have no excuse to be late. Production companies don’t care how early you have to leave, as long as you get to the set on time. If you can’t manage to work with the traffic they will find someone who can. Which is why it is good to invest in a GPS system that can calculate traffic and find you alternative routes (take a look at the smartphone app Waze).

At this point many Los Angeles newbies ask, “Doesn’t Hollywood have a working public transportation system?” And we say, of course we do but don’t even try it. The buses ride on the same streets and freeways as everyone else plus you have to make a lot of stops – so it’ll take you longer and you won’t escape the traffic.

Then you say, “What about the metro?” To which we respond, sorry it’s useless. The metro is only helpful if you need to go downtown and people have lived here decades without ever going downtown. In short, the metro doesn’t start where you live and doesn’t end where you need to go.

Not only do you need to drive while you work in Los Angeles but you are expected to drive. We don’t mean that you need to get a car because people will look down on you for riding public transportation (even though that is true – industry folks think riding buses is on the same level as checking into a psych ward). We actually mean you will need to drive for work and people on the set will assume you have a car. When you are working on a production, you will be asked to do a lot of odd jobs and errands for a wide variety of important people – to do more than half of those errands you’ll need a car. Almost every interviewer in L.A. asks, “Do you have reliable transportation?” You need to say yes and mean it.

Before coming out to L.A. save up some money for a car, it’ll be a lifesaver. The kind of car, the shape it’s in, and the color don’t matter, as long as it can get you from point A to point B (also air conditioning is important in the summer).

Your Los Angeles job isn’t the only thing that wants you to drive, think about your social life’s needs. When you aren’t working you car will act as your lifeline to friends, fun, and relaxation. L.A. is huge, packed with people, and expensive. You may not be able to afford to live in an area that has all the things you like to do, with the people you would like to do them with – your car can get you there. The beach, downtown, and the valley are all within 45 minutes of each other with a car – on the bus those rides can be in excess of 2 hours or more. Your car will be your ticket to freedom.

It also doesn’t hurt to take a defensive-driving course when you get here – it’ll help you not have a panic attack when a DHL truck cuts you off on the 405 / 10 interchange.

Good luck and drive safely.

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