We’re thrilled to bring you a new series we’re experimenting with here at IMTLA!
We call this the “Move out, Break In” series, where we’ll interview transplants who moved to LA and broke into their industry of choice.
You’ll get a firsthand look at how they did it, what they wish they did differently, and any tips they have for future transplants.
Kicking the series off if Jacobo A., a consultant and assistant at a TV Lit management company.
Jacobo, take it away.
First, what exactly was your job title?
Jacobo: Formats Consultant and Assistant at a TV Lit management company. I started at the company as an intern (my first job in LA), covering scripts and suggesting international formats that may be interesting to adapt in the US by some of our writers.
While I was doing that, I got an offer to work as an Assistant at another management company. I accepted the new position, but had to leave after a few weeks. The projects I’d started with the first management company, in regards to the international formats adaptations, were moving forward. Since I’m a foreigner and need a visa sponsor, this first management company could present a stronger application as a formats consultant, rather than ‘just’ an Assistant.
In between, I worked as an intern at Circle of Confusion — management and production company for titles such as The Walking Dead.
You moved from New York to Los Angeles. What’s been the biggest adjustment you had to make to west coast life?
Jacobo: As obvious as it may sound, the ‘necessity’ of buying a car (although it is not really necessary since you have UBER, and public transport is not all too bad). If you happen to live near your place of work, you will not be forced to buy a car. Although it may be harder to make cool plans during the weekend, yes, you can definitely live without a car. It is just not as easy as in NYC.
New York is very well connected in terms of public transport. Both distances and time spent in the subway are shorter than in LA.
How did you find out about the job opening? Do you think there were certain qualities or types of experiences you had that helped?
Jacobo: I applied online through the UTA Job List for my first job (intern at a management company in NYC). Fortunately, I was offered an interview with one of the executives from this company who happened to be in New York for a few days. We met, the interview went well, and she was impressed by what I could do in regards to foreign shows since I also speak Spanish and French.
What are the basic duties of your job?
Jacobo: I research international shows that may be interesting as a whole, or have interesting premises, and bring them to the US so the writers we represent can adapt them. Since these shows have already been hits in their countries of origin, studios and production companies tend to trust the potential success of these adaptations (if they are done right, of course!).
Once we find a good product, we contact the production company or distribution company, whoever owns the international rights, and negotiate for their rights in the US. Meanwhile, we assign the project with writers that like it and feel passionate about the adaptation. Once we have this, we take it to studios, production companies, and/or agencies to either sell it or package it. If everything goes right, well…we have a show!
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned living in LA?
Jacobo: I’m not sure if I’ve just been consistently lucky, but I haven’t really found anyone without the will of helping in LA. People are friendly, willing to help, and understand what ‘LA transplants’ go through. It seems that basically everybody I meet in this town is from elsewhere. Great people, great city.
What advice would you give someone who wants to move out to LA and succeed in a role like yours?
Jacobo: Plan, save money ($5K should be enough), read A LOT about how LA is, and how it is set up geographically. It’s not really a city, but a sum of several smaller cities e.g: Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Westwood, Van Nuys, etc. Ask people you know if they can make recommendations, which often leads to direct help. Be optimistic, positive, and work hard, because everybody is trying to make their dreams come true.
I’ve also found it really interesting that when you ask directly for help, people are more reluctant to do something for you and prefer to give you information. But, when you ask for information, people like to go further and try to directly help you. I guess we all like to feel as if we are are doing more than asked, instead of being forced to help somebody, especially when we don’t know him or her too much.
Let us know in the comments — how did you like this experiment? Should we keep the series going? We think these are cool, but want to make sure you like them, too.