It helps! There. I said it. Not what you wanted to hear? Sorry. If it makes you feel any better, half the screenwriters working in LA are asking themselves the same thing. Do I have to be here?
Sure, you can write from anywhere. Your suburban home in Ohio, your beach condo in Destin, your mom’s basement in Hackensack. But what do you do then? Email it, you say! Riiiiiight. To whom? If you need an agent, it’ll behoove you to be in LA to find one. That’s where they live, drink and dine. If you’re lucky enough to have an agent already, they can send your script out to producers and studios, but what then? If it sells, you’re going to need to be around to develop it with everyone who is a part. Not to mention, everyone else in Hollywood is going to want to meet with you, which is what you want! If it doesn’t sell, you can hope that those that read it and like it will want to work with you on another project. Your job is to stoke as many irons in those fires as possible to land a writing assignment. And that takes time. To do that, it’s best to be within an hour or two of 90210. And remember, it takes an hour in LA to get to the grocery. Sure, once you hit the big time, you might be able to keep a house in the Hamptons. But you’re still going to have to make yourself available to the powers that be. In LA.
Even in Atlanta, a city that is blowing up with film production thanks to the tax incentive, the productions get their scripts (and paychecks) from LA.
The exception to this rule are, of course, the independent film scribes. They don’t have to be anywhere. Except where there’s money to finance their films. They may be able to dig it up in their backyard from friends, family and financiers locally. But more often than not, guess where most indy film money comes from? Riiiiiight. LA.
Don’t forget to write.