Thanks for your thoughtful question, Barrett! Atlanta is definitely an up and coming market for entertainment production. It's the Hollywood of the South!I feel like it's probably every aspiring actor's first instinct to move to LA, as it was mine. However, I already live in a city with a smaller but rapidly growing film industry - Atlanta.
Since finishing law school this summer, I've been auditioning like crazy and have booked lead and supporting roles in several low budget productions so far, trying to get a demo reel together to show to some agencies, and I plan to take every acting class I can in the next year.
As I'm sure you know, many Hollywood movies and television shows are filmed here now. After getting an agent, I want to start shooting for small roles in these productions and hopefully some stronger roles in cool independent films.
Moving to LA at this point would be pretty crazy, right? While Atlanta is not a small pond either, I do figure I have a better chance at getting noticed here and then working my way up to bigger things than I would if I just cold moved to Los Angeles.
What's your take on this? When is the right time to make the move? Is there a right time?
Your dilemma is one I know well, having also started my acting career in a regional market - Boston.
The wisdom making the rounds among Beantown actors back then was - "Don't move to LA (or NY) until something takes you there." - i.e., an agent, a film role, etc. Sound, logical advice. Like you mentioned, why leave a pond where you're booking for a larger pond in which you're the little fish?
Alas, I was not a big fish in Boston. I was blessed to work on a handful of student films, indie projects, and industrial videos to get my resume started, plus take a few acting classes to build my skill set, but I was not booking anywhere near what my colleagues were.
I was juggling four children's/educational theater jobs just to make ends meet and getting told over and over after stage auditions that they liked my talent, but weren't going for "ethnic." As an Asian-American actor, I realized I would have much more opportunity working in TV and film, and that meant moving to LA.
So I think the bottom line is this - go where the opportunities are! For me, that was LA. If you're finding enough opportunity in Atlanta to keep you satisfied, then stay. When you reach a point where what's available to you is not enough, then go where you can find more opportunity. You'll know when the time is right.
Break a leg, Barrett!