Life After NU: On the Ground Running

Los Angeles. The City of Angels. Which would only be true if heaven’s clouds were actually smog.

All pollution jokes aside, my first week in LA—and being part of the real world (that is, post-graduation)—has been fantastic! Insane, but fantastic. Two days after convocation, after squeezing in the last of my goodbyes, I packed up my final suitcases and moved out of Evanston. I had a job lined up to start the following week—as a Post Production Assistant at Abominable Pictures—so the quick cross-country move was necessary. But before I could eagerly start my first full-time, paying job…

The next four days were spent searching for apartments, with help from my dad. Even though I had spent several weeks in Chicago trying to find an abode before moving, the search could not fully begin until I was actually on the ground. I used several online housing aggregator sites, but the winner (and fortunately, there was a winner by Friday) was found by a fortuitous drive-by. So this week I’ll be moving into an apartment in the heart of West Hollywood!

Meanwhile, I’ve now worked two days in my new job. Which has been great! As a PA for the editing department, my tasks range widely. I’ve done runs to the set of Childrens Hospital to pick up precious cargo (i.e., hard drives with just-shot footage). I’ve chatted with editors about what it’s like to edit for TV. I’ve dismantled and reset up an editing workstation. And of course, I’ve learned how to take lunch orders. This has been within a mere 48 hours, so I’m excited to see what I’ll be doing in the near future.

One of the first things I was struck by, as I shook a few dozen hands and tried to commit the corresponding names to memory, was how enthusiastic everyone was. From post supervisor to production coordinator, every person at the office cares about the projects and their personal involvement in them. I’m excited to be a part of this positive culture as I take the first step towards my goal of being an editor.

A stylish and fuel-efficient way to get around a spread out city.

I’ll end this post with some of my initial impressions and musings. Before last week, I had only been to LA for 4 days (not counting the wedding I went to when I was a toddler), so everything at every turn was completely novel. I thought my Spanish would improve after moving here, but I’ve quickly learned that every word of Spanish origin has been horrendously mangled in its anglicization. The immediate next thing I noticed was the immense number of businesses, tourist traps, highway billboards, and overall culture that are related in some way to the film industry. Third were the mountains: even if some are really just glorified hills, they rattled (hopefully not like any earthquakes I may experience) my Floridian reliance on flat ground. All three were perceived as I crawled along the 101, the first time of many. But since I have a new Prius C as my mode of transportation, my inevitable gas guzzling habits should be kept in check.

But wait, there’s more! I’d like to leave you with my parting wisdom of the day. Every connection matters. No matter where the person is in the industry hierarchy, he or she has the potential to help you. If someone offers assistance, advice, or just a coffee meetup, take advantage of the opportunity. You’ll also be surprised how small a world it is, even in a giant city. You’ll meet fellow Northwestern alumni or people from your faraway hometown. LA isn’t as scary as it’s made out to be. Based on my first week and a half here, I’ll even venture to call it fun.

Robbie Stern is a recent graduate of the School of Communication and majored in RTVF. He now works for Abominable Pictures.