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Light Pylons at LAX.

A few weeks ago, my good friend Meghan Reardon and I took a trip to Los Angeles to check out the scene. I went with the intention of seeing if I could see myself living there. I enrolled in two Casting Director workshops, and, with the help of my modeling agent, I set up two photo shoots.

Our trip started one night at my apartment. Meghan and I stayed up later than we should have, talking about typical things, like if it’s romantic or psycho to fall in love with someone by the third date (Answer: Totally romantic, as long as you don’t tell anyone until the wedding), what songs make us cry, and how we packed too much for our trip and yet will have had nothing to wear.

Our alarm clocks abrasively rang at 3 AM the next morning, just 3 hours after we fell asleep, and just in time for us to throw clothes on and make it to the airport by our 4:15 check-in.

Our 4.5 hour flight from ORD to LAX on 6Spirit was . . . well, it was Spirit. Spirit, for those of you who don’t know, prides itself on not giving a shit. Check out their website, if you don’t believe me. No beverages. Less leg room than other aircrafts (which they advertise in their pamphlets, located in the seat pockets directly, and I do mean DIRECTLY, in front of you), and seats that don’t recline. Perfect for a man who’s 6’3”. That all being said, our roundtrip flight for only $242 each was well worth the lack of humanity.

Before this trip, I sought out workshops with casting directors who work on shows in my target. I could see myself in daytime drama and ensemble comedies, and so on my first day in LA, I took a workshop with Casting Director, Greg Salmon, who previously cast All My Children and currently works on The Young and the Restless.

During Greg’s Q&A session, he mentioned the importance of some sort of a reel on Actors Access. He said most CD’s in LA won’t look at your submission without one. Noted. So that’s the first thing I worked on when I landed back in Chicago. With the help of actor and acting coach Janelle Snow, I put a few sides on camera and loaded them to Actors Access. I made sure to find specific scenes that showcased my strengths in different ways so CD’s would be able to know my brand AND my range.

My CD workshop with Jeff Greenberg was another educational experience. Jeff has previously cast ensemble comedy shows such as Cheers and Wings, and he currently casts Modern Family. During our one-on-one, Jeff described me as having a unique energy and being a delightful man-boy. I was pretty taken by that comment, myself! He said while I made good choices with the sides I chose, I could have picked a better scene, and that he wasn’t able to get a good idea of my comedic timing from the scene I chose to perform. This was very good information I used in picking scenes to put on camera for Actors Access!

5Along with getting my face in front of some pretty big names in the casting industry, Meghan and I had the opportunity to get some sightseeing in and visit some different neighborhoods in order to see what my money would get me if I were to move to LA. This is definitely something I recommend for anyone thinking about a big move!

In intentionally picking restaurants and coffee shops in different neighborhoods throughout the trip, I was able to get a nice feel of the character (or lack thereof) each neighborhood brings to LA. Now, I keep saying neighborhood, but I should probably stop. Unlike Chicago, Los Angeles is a big collection of cities (503 square miles, to be exact), not neighborhoods. I quickly realized how much more affordable it is to live in the Valley compared to the rest of LA. These are very valuable things to know before a move, and while word-of-mouth is helpful, seeing the neighborhoods – I mean cities – of LA myself was extremely beneficial.

More than anything else, this trip made the idea of a career in LA tangible. Instead of thinking I could never make it in LA, I gained confidence and faith in the contrary. Driving by places like Warner Brothers Studios and Paramount Pictures, I felt stronger than ever that I belong on the other sides of those walls.

3Your turn! What are your experiences with LA, or with moving to any city, for that matter? Tweet me @TheEricFeltes, or Facebook me!