It’s almost four years to the day since the first time I was in Los Angeles. I came for a week after my time at the International Emmys in 2015, took a bunch of meetings and left certain that my career was about to blow up (it wasn’t). I still remember so well standing on Hollywood Boulevard at sunset, watching the raucous and shambolic city life go by and making a silent promise to myself that I would be back soon.
Well, four years kind of counts as soon.
In some ways booking my ticket over again was an impulsive indulgence. My friends/regular collaborators Dan and Bryony from Pirate Size Productions had to fly over last minute to pitch a project to various heavy hitters and asked if I wanted to come. In truth, I probably didn’t need to but upon conferring with my agent I realised it was a great opportunity to meet the teams at Stampede and Vertigo, the two companies actively working to turn my upcoming novel The Hunted into a film, as well as a chance to take other meetings and pitch a few different projects to some big companies who might be interested. Plus, it meant returning to a city I really enjoyed visiting last time. So, a week out from the flight, I booked.
It made for a weird kind of whiplash; after a week working at my old school, the very next day I was getting on a plane to Los Angeles with Dan (Bryony flew in later). The flight was, as long flights always are, a special kind of misery, but after we’d escaped the plane and customs and security we finally arrived in Hollywood for a long day of basically killing time until we could check into our Air B&B. For context our flight landed around 5:30AM. We weren’t allowed to check in until 3PM. It was a long day, especially in overwhelming heat with luggage to drag around the place.
But after resigning ourselves to our fate the day took some cool turns. We decided to check out the rundown, dingy Hollywood Museum, which is home to a lot of cool props but, most awesomely of all, the actual asylum set from The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. Which meant Dan was forced to take about a thousand photos of me in every conceivable spot around Hannibal Lecter’s cell while putting up with my delighted squeals about seeing Dolarhyde’s actual toilet paper letter from Red Dragon. The whole reconstructed set is maintained to perfection, making you feel like you’re walking into the film itself.
After a few beers at a pub up the road that I remembered fondly from last time, we were finally able to check into our accommodation. A quick hour’s power nap left us not quite refreshed, but somewhere in the vicinity of alive, which meant we could head into town to watch Western Stars at the Chinese Theatre, something I was thrilled about and made for a great (and emotional) start to our week in LA.
The next day we went to Universal Studios. And while the whole endeavour was stupidly expensive (get ready to pay $22 AUD for a single beer if you want to drink at the Hogs Head), it was a huge amount of fun and an awesome way to spend the day that counted as my birthday in Australia if not LA. The rides were great; from the Harry Potter themed Forbidden Journey, which takes you on a partly animatronic, partly animated whirlwind tour of various locations from the movies complete with a violent Whomping Willow and a dragon breathing fire at you – to the Jurassic World ride, which featured several dinosaurs and ergo resulted in my grinning like an idiot for the duration.
Then there was the studio backlot tour, home to the Psycho House and the shark from Jaws. So yeah, I was having a pretty amazing time.
On Monday the whirlwind week began in earnest. I bounced around town from meeting to meeting, some with Dan and Bryony, others by myself. I tried and failed to traverse nine miles on a scooter (long and miserable story, don’t ask), enjoyed a lot of philosophical conversations with Uber drivers after realising the flaws in my scooter related plan, met face to face with some of the people who changed my life this year and got the opportunity to pitch new projects to several parties who hopefully haven’t since put a photo of my face with a giant cross through it next to their door. From boardrooms to exclusive clubs overlooking the city to Starbucks I feel like I’ve been in the best kind of pinball machine, one in which every wall you hit is more exciting than the last.
Look, they say you never have a bad meeting in LA and I know that for a fact. I mean, the last time I was here I walked out of every meeting sure that everything was about to blow up only for next to nothing to actually happen. But I dunno, this time feels different somehow, like I’m here with specific purposes and a newfound sense of how to navigate this city and the opportunities inherent to it. And maybe I’ll be proven wrong all over again, but even if I am I’ve just had an awesome time being back here. Even if it’s projected, there’s a certain magic to LA, to knowing that this is the place where things happen, where the careers you admire were made and where film legends begin, where a venerable history sits side by side with a promise of exciting futures in a city that somehow manages to feel glamorous despite being largely rundown and a bit smelly. But that’s that weird quality LA has, and that’s why despite all the heat and the scooters and the overpriced beers I’ve been walking from place to place with a big dumb smile on my face.
My last working day was Friday, populated by some awesome meetings and closed off with a trip to a really cool old cinema to watch Jojo Rabbit. Saturday, free and clear until our flight, was spent exploring Venice Beach and relaxing with beers on rooftops with stunning views of the whole sprawl of LA, the Hollywood sign faint and hazy in the sunny distance. Then it was back to the airport and on to the plane where I’m finishing off this blog. I’ll be home for a day after which I’m immediately flying to Brisbane for book related stuff. Things are a bit relentless, but as I’ve said a million times before and will say a million times again, busy is better than bored, and this is the best kind of busy.
Already I’m excited to come back. Hopefully this time it doesn’t take four years. But if it does, that’s cool too, because if this trip has proved anything it’s that LA and the potential it holds are worth the wait.
Writing words about writing words.