Welcome to Hollywood, the place where dreams are made of. On the other side of the lens, the place where dreams are shattered. It’s been quite a while since the last installment of the “Hollywood” chapter of my photo diary, and since then I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on all the amazing moments that were lived and all the mistakes that were made. This chapter is dedicated to all you film students out there who are now facing the harsh realities of the professional world. There are plenty of horror stories floating around Hollywood, a place that was once considered a safe harbor for artists and a place where dreams are made of. It’s time to face the music, folks, and dig out those scary stories because you’re about to meet a whole lot of them.

The Pressure Is On

To begin with, let’s talk about the pressure that’s on. Whether it was the sudden shift in the industry or just bad luck, a lot of upcoming actors and actresses found themselves struggling to make it big in Hollywood. It’s not easy getting a movie made, no matter what talent you have. In fact, the majority of films are either financial disappointments or critical and box-office flops. Even the ones that are praised by critics tend to be overlooked by audiences, which in turn leads to fewer opportunities to showcase your talent. It’s a tough situation for anyone who’s aiming for Hollywood stardom. There’s nowhere to hide and nothing to spare. Your reputation is on the line. It’s not like high school bullying, where you can be picked on but you can still hide in the locker room, but this is the real deal. This is what it means to be famous. And let’s face facts: Most people aren’t equipped to handle the pressure that comes with being a celebrity in today’s world. Which is exactly why you need to be protected.

Set Design Is Key

Another key factor that often goes unnoticed is the set design. In a nutshell, sets are a big part of movie making and they can make or break your performance as an actor. Sets should reflect the time and place of the story. In other words, if you’re filming a futuristic movie, don’t just put up some green screens; use real plant life and actual machinery, because, you know, robots don’t grow crops and they don’t build spaceships. It doesn’t make sense. The same goes for historical dramas. Be careful not to go overboard and make it so much that it feels like you’re in a museum. There’s a fine line between believability and ham-fisted historical inaccuracies. It’s all about establishing the right mood and tone for the scene. This is where good set design can really help. Sometimes it’s not that the camera just isn’t capturing what you’re doing, but rather it’s the set that’s preventing the scene from being believable. There’s too much going on in a space that’s too confined or too empty. It feels like a chore to be in a movie with such poor set design. So, whether you’re shooting on film or digitally, pay attention to the sets around you and make sure that they contribute to the scene instead of just being there to look pretty.

Keep Your Distance

Another important thing to keep in mind is your attitude towards the public. This is something that might be difficult to learn, but more and more people in Hollywood have realized that maintaining a certain level of privacy can actually do wonders in terms of their exposure and development as an actor. It sounds simple enough: Be polite, but keep your distance. When you approach people and become overly friendly, they will see you as a threat. In Hollywood, everyone wants to be friendly, everyone wants to be accepted, but not at the expense of your personal security. This is a tough lesson to learn, especially if you’re used to being the center of attention and having everyone know your business, but you have to realize that not everyone is here to be your friend. Some people want to use you, exploit you, and your talent. It’s a jungle out there, and you’ll have to learn to navigate it without getting too attached to anyone or anything. Being too friendly could potentially invite trouble. It’s about being smart and discerning. You never know who could be interested in what you have to offer, so it’s better to be on your guard and keep your options open. After all, that’s how you survive in this business.

The Struggle Is Real

Lastly, let’s discuss the struggle that is real. It’s not enough to just show up and try your best. You have to put in the sweat equity. It doesn’t matter if you’re an actor, dancer, or singer, you have to be willing to learn and develop your craft. There’s plenty of talent out there, but if you want to succeed in this business, you have to be willing to put in the work. Which is why I dedicated this entire chapter to discussing the struggles of becoming an actor in Hollywood. It’s not easy. It takes balls to walk into that room and say, “I want to be an actor.” Most people aren’t equipped to handle the pressure that comes with being famous, so they crumble under the weight of expectations. Hollywood is a place that was built on dreams, but more and more, it’s leading to disappointment. It could be a scary place to be if you’re not prepared for it. The struggle is real. The sooner you realize it and prepare for it, the happier you will be in the long run. Believe it or not, even the famous people you’ll meet in Hollywood had to start from somewhere. It might seem like everybody is doing it, but they all had to start from somewhere. And that somewhere could be anywhere, which is why you have to be prepared to work hard, but you also have to be ready to enjoy the journey. Because at the end of the day, it is a journey. And the sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to enjoy it. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about perspective.