'New Yorker' Cartoonist and 'Girls' Writer Bruce Erik Kaplan on L.A. vs. NYC Shoots

Bruce Eric Kaplan

How to tell the difference between denizens of Hollywood East and West? Here are four helpful tips from the brand-new memoirist ("I Was a Child") as he identifies the key markers.

This story first appeared in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

● Who doesn’t read The New Yorker
In New York, all the crews read The New Yorker. In Los Angeles, they don’t know from The New Yorker. It’s not even just crewmembers. When I got my first Hollywood agent and was trying to be a TV writer, I would go into meetings and hear, "Your agent says you’re a cartoonist for the New York Post!" My own agent didn’t know what The New Yorker was. 

● Who sweats at 7 a.m.
In Los Angeles, it’s always nice out. In New York, it can be nice out or horrifying. You really have no idea what you’re going to get on any given day. You’re shooting a scene, and suddenly it’s a hailstorm. Shooting in Los Angeles is always pleasant and comfortable. Shooting in New York is like being on Survivor. I did a DVD commentary track for Girls recently, and the only thing I ended up talking about was the weather: "I was really comfortable that day. There was air-conditioning." Or, "My God, it was 100 degrees. I was sweating profusely." There were days on Girls when I’d take the subway to the set and arrive at 7 a.m. drenched. The director was like, "What is wrong with you?"

● Who hires guards for craft services
In L.A., you can put out a craft-service table anywhere, and it’s no big deal. But in New York, people who walk by it on the street get really angry about it. They either want it and are angry they can’t have it, or they’re just generally pissed that you have it. I am telling you, this is a real thing. New York PAs are assigned to guard the food, but you still have people grabbing it off the table. It’s partly due to the fact that New York is a walking culture, whereas in L.A., people are in cars. But there’s a psychically larger thing going on, where it’s all about survival. People see food and think, "Hey, there’s food. I want it. Why can’t I get some?"

● Who’s angrier
This is related to my previous point, but I’ve encountered a lot more anger from neighborhood residents in New York than in L.A. New Yorkers will walk right up to crew and confront them: "Why are you shooting here? Why are you tying up traffic? I should be able to walk down this sidewalk if I want. It’s everyone’s sidewalk!" In L.A., there’s more this attitude of, "Hey, this is L.A., where we shoot things."