Friday, July 31, 2015

Road Trip (2000)


If you're reading this, there is a chance you are interested in moving to CA. I made the move in May 2015 only a week after I graduated college. I rarely do anything spontaneous when it comes to money so I wish I had known a few things when I moved out here. So I want to share those things with you.

I'm going to break down what it took for me to travel to CA from NC post graduation. This is just my advice and opinion, it is not meant to be taken as the only option or even the right choice.
Keep in mind prices fluctuate so it wont be exactly the same for you.

My hope is that by the end of this you will not be discouraged, rather, prepared and excited.


Over the years I have acquired quite a bit of furniture, clothes and random things. It took a 15' U-haul with a trailer hitch to fit all of mine and my roommate's belongings. (And to tow my car).

Get rid of what you can and only take what you absolutely can't part with. If you can eliminate the cost of a U-haul you will save thousands of dollars.

It took me about a week to pack the entire 2 bedroom house. More boxes than I can count. (My roommate worked at Eddie Bauer so he was able to get boxes before they threw them out. I have gotten boxes from Walmart as well. Craigslist posts boxes under the FREE tab. Try not to spend money on boxes if you don't need to.

Packing tape (with dispenser)
bubble wrap
scotch tape
paper plates (to cushion between plates)
packing paper (brown, $10 from FedEx)
PLASTIC WRAP (saved my life when packing)
towels/blankets- to cushion furniture and stuffing
(for easy access to things you may pack and then need, label your boxes.)

We picked up the U-haul the day before we intended to leave so we could pack it and then get a good night's sleep before leaving the next morning.


If you are driving a car along with the U-haul:
Check the tire pressure
Make sure you are up to date with your oil change
Make sure you have a spare tire and your fluids are full
It doesn't hurt to have a car emergency kit in your trunk.
Get a padlock for the U-haul for the night.
If you use your phone as a GPS ( cause why not?) THIS was really helpful.
Get some cash for potential tolls
Pack snacks! (save $)

You are going to spend a lot of time in there, so make sure it's safe and comfy!

If you are feeling crazy, call your insurance company and see what kind of roadside assistance you have. If you have it, jot the number down so if anything happens, that's one less thing you have to do.
Sometimes you have TripleA and you don't even know it! That means that if you breakdown or get a flat, someone will come and help you and it's already covered in your monthly insurance cost.

If you are in a caravan with more than one other person, get a set of walkie talkies. Not only is it fun, it's much safer if the driver has to contact you. Instead of calling on the cell, they press the button on the walkie. Go ahead and give yourself code names. Mine was Red Viper.


My travel companions were my Dad, Step mom, Brother & Roommate in the U-haul and a Prius caravan. (which was nice to take a break from driving at times).

We drove from:
Wed May 27, 2015 
Winston Salem, NC  to King's Mountain, NC- filled up 
King's Mountain, NC to Newnan, GA-filled up 
Newnan, GA to Bay Minette, AL- filled up 
Bay Minette, AL to Slidell, LA- Stayed in a hotel 
Thurs May 28th, 2015 
Slidell, LA to Breaux Bridge, LA- filled up 
Breaux Bridge, LA to Katy TX- filled up 
Katy, TX to San Antonio,TX - stayed at my brothers for 2 nights 
Sat May 30th, 2015 
San Antonio, TX - filled up 
San Antonio, TX to Van Horn, TX- filled up 
Van Horn, TX to McCamey, TX- filled up 
McCamey, TX to Lordsburg, NM- filled up 
Lordsburg, NM to Tucson, AZ- stayed the night 
Sun May 31st, 2015 
Tucson, AZ to Dateland, AZ- filled up 
Dateland, AZ to Salton City, CA- filled up 
Salton City, CA- arrived. 

I made a spreadsheet of the gas cost. *(I never went below a 1/4 tank on either car)
[The layout may be a little confusing but I broke down what my roommate and I each spent at each stop. The top is the cost of the U-haul and the bottom total is the total cost of everything.]

As we traveled across the country I would look at daily postings of apartments in the areas I was interested in living. Choosing a neighborhood is difficult when you don't know your way around LA. SO I reached out to a few friends who lived here to get their advice on the different neighborhoods. 

I didn't have a job yet but I knew that I would be working in the film industry which stretches all over LA (For me mainly from Santa Monica to Burbank). 

Traffic is what everyone says it is. There really is no way around it. (Unless you literally go around it) Even then you run the risk of everyone having the same idea.

Regardless, you want to live where: 
A. You can afford. 
B. You feel safe. 
C. You like it (somewhat) 
D. It's convenient for your line of work. 

My first mistake while apartment hunting was using Craigslist. You waste a ton of time investing in apartments that end up being scams. The way they scam you is to engage in a conversation via email once you've shown interest then they give you a bogus story about needing a small deposit for even looking at the apartment for whatever sob story they give you. At that point, walk away. Don't waste your time even getting mad. It will happen again. 

My favorite apps were RadPad, Zillow, and  

Since I didn't have a job I did not limit myself to any one neighborhood. However, I looked for a place with a 6 month lease. Because I knew that no matter where I lived there was a strong chance I may need to move once I got more settled. 

*LA apartments don't have refrigerators. Chances are you will need to rent or buy one. I am currently renting one because let's face it, I could barely afford moving here. 

*LA apartments usually don't have central air. Just wall units and more than one if you are lucky. 

*Most apartments don't provide a parking space which means you will need to find street parking (beware of the street cleaning days, ticket fee for parking violation on street cleaning day is $60)

****(I did all of this with my dog in tow which made certain things a little more difficult, contact me if you want those details).

One cost some may forget about is the apartment application fee. If you are rooming with someone, you are both required to apply (separately) and both pay the application fees which ranged from $30-$50 PER APARTMENT.  This is a very necessary cost you need to account for because it you skimp out on these applications the apartment will get scooped up right under you. And the application process does not necessarily happen in a day. It took me about 2 1/2 days to get approved for my apartment. 

Things you will need: 
A. Your driver's license.  
B. Proof of steady California based income (existing money in your account will not suffice). 
C. A quick access co-signer (if you do not have proof of income) 
D. Quick access to your bank to get a cashier's check for the application fee. (some took a personal check.) 

If you even kind of like it, apply for it, because you are not necessarily guaranteed the place anyways so increase your odds. 

The apartment will need to process your application and do a background check, and their bank needs to approve you (Some banks are located on the East Coast, which means you need to try to get this done by 2:00pm Pacific time.)

If you don't already have Renter's Insurance, you need to get it. It costs as little as $15 a month. And there are apartments that require it once you are approved. Safe yourself the stress of quickly getting it and give yourself the peace of mind that you are protected in the chance of theft. 

Side note: as you are compiling your list of apartments to tour, try to plan it so you travel conveniently. If you bounce back and forth across LA you might miss some appointments while you are stuck in traffic. 


Once I was approved, before I signed the lease, I needed to:

Get renter's insurance
turn on the electricity 
turn on the gas
turn on the water
get a cashiers check for (the security deposit and first month's rent)

Once I was in the apartment the last thing I wanted to do was unload the U-haul. I hired some really nice guys to do it for me.  2 guys, 2 hours $120. 
Strong Arm Movers- (323)762-6315

Save that cost if you can, I was just too drained and exhausted. 

*Now that you have your address, Go to usps and permanently forward your mail to your new address ASAP for only $1


What does that mean? Technically you have 10 days to get a CA Driver's license. ( I say technically because no one will know you haven't done this unless you get ANY kind of a ticket.) So take your time, but get it done. 

Again, these things will eventually need to get done. But you just moved here, so relax and soak up the sun for a little cause the hard parts over! (Some will argue).

Only if you're interested: I moved to a 2 bedroom apartment in Montebello, CA. (For MANY reasons) But I also signed a 6 month lease in case this place was too far for me. 

If this helps (because I know this would have helped me): My first 2 months worth of bills for the apartment were: (minus the refrigerator rental which cost $45/month for 6 months)


IF AND ONLY IF you happen to have a similar story to me, it may cost you (and whoever you are traveling with) $7,290.11 to get here and get settled. (I had the U-haul for 8 days)*

Eliminate as much of the cost as you can, if possible, and get here!

Call up old friends that live across the US and ask to stay a night there. 
Pack a tent and pay as little as $10 to stay in a camp ground for the night. 
Pack sandwich supplies and make sandwiches as you drive across the country. 
Consider getting a Prius, it will save your life while in LA.
Sell the bulk of your stuff and eliminate the need for a U-haul. 
Room with someone already living in CA and eliminate the cost of apartment applications and deposits. 
Don't rush getting a CA Driver's License or registering your car, but know you will need to. 
Unload your U-haul by yourselves (or call a friend to help). 

DO NOT BE TOO PROUD TO CREATE A GOFUNDME ACCOUNT. People may make fun of you, but you will be the last one laughing from your fabulous LA Apartment. 
I didn't make one, and I wish I had because I have incredible people in my life that I know would have helped me if I needed it. Don't be scared to ask for help. It will save you while you're in LA. 

Check out this guy who wanted to raise $10 to make potato salad, but ended up raising $55,000. 
to make potato salad. 
potato salad. 

Go forth and save $!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sundance Film Festival 2015

Friday Jan 23, 2015
One of my favorite things UNCSA has to offer is the ability to find myself in extraordinary circumstances. For example, when I was a sophomore, I applied to intern at the Cannes Film Festival. This is my second year at Sundance thanks to the Seman's Art Fund and Career Development Grant. 

Park City is 45 minutes away from Salt Lake City airport so we needed to reserve a shuttle to get there because let's face it, there's nowhere to park in Park City during the fest. It took close to 2 1/2 hours from when we landed to when we arrived at the condo.

It's off to the Treasure Mountain Inn where SlamDance is to see Brian O'Connel's film Bloodsucking Bastards. 

I was fortunate to meet Brian in December during UNCSA's Intensive Arts when he hosted an improv workshop. He is such a funny guy!

Feeling pretty jetlagged I was so ready to pass out that I couldn't muster the energy to go to the premiere party for Blood Sucking Bastards. But Evan went and had a blast! (below on the right). On my way to the transit center I did manage to give a mini-Main Street tour to the guys and showed them my favorite place for a bite: Davanzas. Perfect end to the first night. 

Saturday Jan 24th, 2015
Getting to stay at a 3 bedroom condo for free means we need to attend certain events no matter how early. I didn't mind the Vimeo Filmmaker Breakfast - The Art of the Pitch: Filmmaker as Entrepreneur which was more crowded than a Nickelback concert. 

Indiflix's had a booth called The Faces of IndieFlix where they took black and white portraits of everyone. So of course we took advantage! 

It makes me laugh so hard how excited we (poor college students) get when we are faced with complimentary FREE stuff! 
No disappointment here, the Sundance TV venue served complimentary espresso and coffee, screen printed totes and a photo booth to top it off. What better souvenirs. 

Chase Sapphire Lounge is one of my favorite places to stop by. Last year this was the place where I had a mini-Little Miss Sunshine photoshoot with my Pal, Auggie. This year I made a small movie scene from The Skeleton Twins (favorite '14 Sundance Film). 

Story of my life that I was never fast enough to get tickets to the more popular events, like the Power of Story: Serious Ladies panel. But I found it on YouTube and you can conveniently see it here!:

I am not ashamed to admit that I am a HUGE Eli Roth fan. He was at Sundance for his film, Knock Knock. 
We headed down the street to the Acura tent just in time to see him enter to sign the Acura below, we didn't get to meet him but it will happen one day!

Delicious lunch at Cafe terigo

Waitlisted Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.  It was so exciting to see Courtney Love in the audience, and their daughter, Frances, who was an Executive Producer on the doc.  A minute before the film started Norman Reidus walked in and I had to yell hello. I'm so lame. 
The animation sequences in the documentary blew my mind. 

Director- Brett Morgan

We head off (fashionably late) to the Uncsa/ NC party at the Meyer Gallery and met a lot of alumn. I think this is event is so incredibly important. It's an opportunity for current students who go to the festival to meet alumni with films in the festival and individuals involved with the Film Commission in NC. 

Sunday Jan 25th, 2015

Woke up early this morning to waitlist Hot Girls Wanted and stood in the cold garage at the Egyptian Theatre but made it literally as the last two. It wasn't as national as I thought. Focusing on one little Production Co. 

Breakfast at Main st. Pizza Noodle Station is a must while in Park City! It's located right in the middle of Main St. and serves ALL things breakfast. The juevos rancheros are my favorite! 

We head over to Sundance TV to make it to the SundanceTV Presents: Smart Works: "A SundanceTV Talks Panel: A round table discussion on the most buzzed about TV today and how "popular" and "smart" are increasingly comfortable bedfellows. Moderated by Wall Street Journal’s Barbara Chai.  WITH: Jason Momoa; The Red Road, Game of Thrones, Julianne Nicholson; The Red Road, August Osage County, Michael McKean; Better Call Saul, Best in Show, Brit Marling; Babylon, Another Earth, and Ed Carroll, COO AMC Networks."

We commence to wander down Main st and come across the Lipton lounge where we taste bubbly raspberry tea and take silly photos and play in a bubble pit killing time before the

HP Presents: Artist Workshop: Pitching and Marketing the Independent Film with 
Panelist: Adam Krentzman, Mark Pogachefsky

It took a minute for me to recognize Mr. Pogachefsky, but I met him via skype in my Marketing class the year before so I was able to catch up with him after the panel.

Adam Krentzman & Mark Pogachefsky

I got a lot of really information out of this panel along with what is in a good Executive Summary. Ironically, that is my final in my Producing class. Making an Executive Summary for an Independent film I want to produce. an important question: WHO IS YOUR MOVIE FOR???

Before going to the Z for Zachariah Premiere party we head over to the New Frontier to check out the exhibits. This year they focused on Ocular Evolution. The first oculus rift I try is Wild: The Experience. "Fox Searchlight and the Fox Innovation Lab present this virtual reality experience drawing from the film Wild. Viewers enter a fully immersing media environment to join an intimate moment on the Pacific Crest Trail between a woman, Cheryl Strayed (Academy Award nominee Reese Witherspoon), and her mother, Bobbi (Academy Award nominee Laura Dern), a vision from the afterlife. Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern. —J.C."
screen shot of Wild:The Experience
Austin on the Wild Oculus

 As cool as this technology is, it may not be for me. After the short film, I was nauseous for a little while. I couldn't seem to focus my sight and being able to move my focus around made me dizzy. I also tried the Google Cardboard oculus rift, Kaiju Fury. 

The making of Kaiju Fury

We were really fortunate to get into the Z for Zachariah Premiere Party at the St. Regis Hotel. We weren't technically on the list but were taking the place of someone who couldn't go. We had to take a funacular up to the venue. This might be the fanciest party I've ever been to!

We met Craig Zobel, the director of Z for Zachariah and a UNCSA alum. I felt a little out of place but got the best idea for a movie that I've been working on. There were so many companies selling the most ridiculous things including yachts and flat screens and trips to Asia. 
Monday Jan 26th, 2015

We wake up Early to set up at The Filmmakers Lodge for the 4p UNCSA panel. It felt great feeling like an event planner. We hauled our camera equipment around Main st. and set the camera up. Austin filmed, I shot stills and Evan got some footage on a flip cam. 

We make our way to the Marc Theatre for the 11:30am screening of The Tribe.

Afterwards we head to The Spur for drinks before the UNCSA panel with some of the alum.

"UNCSA Presents: Creative Collaborations. Join the creative teams behind the films I'll See You in My Dreams and Z for Zachariah as they discuss the importance of longevity in creative collaborations and how the partnerships formed at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking have carried them through the ups and downs of independent filmmaking. Panelists: Alex Bickel, colorist (I'll See You in My Dreams, Camp X-Ray), Rob Givens, cinematographer (I'll See You in My Dreams), Rebecca Green, producer (I'll See You in My Dreams, It Follows), Brett Haley, director (I'll See You in My Dreams), Jane Rizzo, editor (Z For Zachariah, Compliance), Zach Seivers, sound designer (I'll See You in My Dreams, Last Days in the Desert), and Craig Zobel, director (Z For Zachariah, Compliance)." 

UNCSA alum: Rob Givens, Rebecca Green, Zach Seivers, Brett Haley, Jane Rizzo, Craig Zobel, Alex Bickel

It's an Irish kind of night with dinner at Flannigans where I pay way too much for a cocktail and eat some shepherds pie. 

Thanks to Mark Pogachefsky we get into the Inaugural Horizon Award to Honor the Up-and-Coming Female Filmmaker Veronica Ortiz-Calderon from Puerto Rico! The prize was a $10,000 scholarship, a paid trip to Sundance film Festival, and the opportunity to meet and be mentored by professionals in the industry.

Everyday we pass the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and this is the night we choose to load up on some goodies.  

We take the free Trolley up hill and  met the Editor of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution movie who shows us how to get on the list to the New Orleans Film Commission Party. Even with getting on the list, we wait over an hour to get in. But we meet the writer of BloodSucking Bastards. And the gumbo makes the wait totally worth it!

Tuesday Jan 27th, 2015

The most popular event at the New Frontier is Birdly, "The media lab of Max Rheiner has developed this customized flight simulator that gives the viewer a profound experience of being a bird flying over the city of San Francisco. Look at your hands and arms: They are wings. Look at the ground and see your shadow cast as a bird of prey. Hear the roar of the wind and the powerful flapping sound of your wings as you soar over the parks and through the skyscraper canyons of the urban landscape. —S.F."
I can't seem to muster the courage to do it from fear of motion sickness. 

Blue Jeans is hosting a project where a man named Ryan is on a digital conference call and draws Caricatures. I wish I had this volume in my hair...

We go check out what's up at the Acura tent and get some more photos and coffee. There is coffee everywhere!

The Filmmakers Lodge is hosting a panel Somewhere, Out There: "Looking up at the stars has long captivated the human imagination. And storytellers have popularized dramatic, seemingly outlandish notions of planetary exploration, parallel universes, black holes, and wormholes. But are they that far-fetched? Is space-time stranger than fiction? Explore the intersection of imagination, science, and storytelling with an eclectic group: astrophysicist and writer Janna Levin (Barnard College/Columbia University), writer/actor Brit Marling (Another Earth, I, Origins), writer Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar, Memento, The Dark Knight Rises), engineer Adam Steltzner (NASA Jet Propulsion Lab) and moderator Paula Apsell (Senior Executive Producer, NOVA). Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation."

Austin met Jonathan Nolan, writer of Interstellar.

We head over to the Sundance TV cocktail party which we had rsvpd to for 2 days and couldn't make. It was nice and crowded with great music by HoneyHoney. When I went to record a clip of them singing I caught a man falling out of his chair. I felt awful about it but it was funny.

Evan joins us for dinner at Wasatch Brewery where I indulge in apricot beer and Mac and cheese. 

Austin's mini, but strong beer

We are switching condos tomorrow (since Our dean and her assistant are leaving) so we head back to pack our stuff up.

Wednesday Jan 28th, 2015

I gotta say, I love Deer Valley and how they treat their guests. We were picked up from condo one by the concierge and driven to the Eccles theatre to see I'll See You in My Dreams, directed by Brett Haley (an alum form UNCSA). 
After the film we rushed to the Bus to get to The Shop for our first Ignite Student Panel: INSIDE THE SCOOP

We had a little time before our next screening so we went to the new condo to check things out and get a feel for our new home. This place was fantastic! Fireplace, hot tub and walking distance from the festival. Thank you UNCSA!

Condo back yard, it's 3 stories

We head to The Marc Theatre to see Stockholm, Pennsylvania Where I bump into Kevin Sandler in line with my hands full with coffee and chili. Kevin was one of my mentors at Cannes a few years ago.  

On to Prospector Theatre to see Pervert Park - I think I'm still slightly processing what this documentary did to me. I was so emotional after this screening I cried for so long after this film.

The BMI Snowball! I was happy to see Honeyhoney again, they are incredible! They opened for Christina Perry, who was so charming and cute! 

There is always a party and if you play your cards right, it's not hard to get in.  We crash the New Frontier Filmmaker's Party somehow by an oversight at the door. Even with this exclusive party we still don't get to fly on the birdie! But I got to try some more oculus rifting. Still nauseated by it. 

Thursday Jan 29th, 2015

Late nights mean missing morning screenings.. missed the screening of Homesick because I was way too tired. Maybe it's the altitude. That only means one thing! Breakfast at Main Street Pizza & Noodle. Specifically the Juevos Rancheros...again.

Now off to the Egyptian for the meet the Industry Panel, but not before getting some photos of the beautiful theatre. 
The Egyptian Theatre, Sundance Film Festival

Main Street, Park City, Utah
After the panel we snatch some quick snacks from Sundance TV for our next movie: Reversal, conveniently at the Egyptian Theatre.  I have nothing to say about this film.

Keeping it on Main street we go for a quick bite to O'Shucks for dinner and then stop at the wine store for a couple of bottles. We haul these bottles around for the rest of the night. 

We waitlisted I Am Michael at the Eccles and got in by the skin on our teeth, probably the last 2! 

Friday Jan 30th, 2015

This year it's much harder to get up early, I don't know why. But I get up early to watch Dreamcatcher. I ended up falling asleep for a little bit but enjoyed what I saw. After the film I bumped into Kristen Warren, another mentor from my days at Cannes. 

After hauling my souvenirs all morning, I stopped by the Post Office to send a package home costing $28 for the box and shipping. Totally worth it.

The next Ignite event was a Student Meet & Greet at The Shop. This is were I met some students from LA and the Director of Cronies. 

With my new found LA friends we head to The New Frontier and meet Brett Haley officially with his fiancée Linda. 

I took the time to do more Oculus Rifting: Chris Milk: Evolution of Verse was by far my favorite. It was beautiful and effective and totally inspiring.  Here is an interesting article on the new technology. 

Austin finding his calling

Saturday Jan 31st, 2015

I will watch anything with Viola Davis. J-Lo was just the icing. First thing in the morning we go see Lila & eve at Eccles Theatre. 

Sundance, for me, means every kind of Juevos Rancheros I can find this morning was at The Eatery, here I get the opportunity to Hang out with Kevin Sandler & Kristen Warren back at their condo.

Kevin is so kind to give us a ride to the Ignite Filmmaker Speed Dating at the HP Headquarters. Where we catch up with Nidhin!

My most anticipated film was the documentary Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief. I shouldn't have waited so late, but either way it was always highly anticipated and almost impossible to get in. But I waitlisted and took a bus 30 minutes away.  

My 2014 Sundance friend, Robbi met me here to say hello!

And even with the volunteers in the line telling us that no more than 5 people will get in (I was 12) I stayed. I was with Austin, and the line cut off in front of us only letting one more in. Austin was so kind to not even argue, he pushed me (literally) and I was on my way in. And what an INCREDIBLE Documentary. 

Did I mention it's Award Party Night!? Did I mention we had tickets?!


Did I mention we had a BLAST!?!

I passed out on the bus ride back to the condo. 

Packed up and slept for about 5 hours before the shuttle picked us up and we were on our way back to the East Coast.