Julie Gray
Editor, Writer and Cocktail Enthusiast.

An unlikely journey: From Hollywood to Tel Aviv

There was a time when I lived and worked in Hollywood. For ten years in fact. You could say that in many ways I did a lot of growing up and certainly learned a whole lot about the entertainment industry. I met and befriended some of the most intelligent, funny, driven people I have ever met in my life. I learned the ropes of Hollywood and had a very nice office on the oldest studio lot in LA. I shared a cigarette with Larry Charles, chatted with Terrence Mallick and Allan Ball. My office was across the hall from the offices of Jodie Foster and John Cusack. It was a wonderful time in my life.

In March, 2012, I decided to take a rare life opportunity and move to Israel for awhile. I needed a change of scenery. Would I miss Hollywood? Would I wind up out of the loop?

Turns out I picked a great time – the 21st century – to continue to work within the entertainment industry but to live 9,000 miles away in a more peaceful environment.

Israel? More peaceful?

Yes, for me it is. I love the creative energy of Hollywood, the palpable excitement in the air of so many possibilities, of such ambition. But after some time, I wanted an environment that was outside of that particular bell jar. I wanted some fresh, new air. I wanted to be able to go to a café and NOT run into ten other writers, working away.

I wanted to get to know creatives and writers in Israel and bring them to the fore while maintaining my relationships in Hollywood. I wanted to see what (and who) else was out there.

What I have found in Israel has been remarkable. The creativity here is literally off the hook. So many stories, so much talent. The Tel Aviv Writer’s Salon is full to overflowing every week with writers eager to express themselves. We already have enough material to publish a collection of our flash fiction in 2014.

One of the most amazing things that I love about the creative environment in Israel is that writers, directors and producers are much easier to access and very happy to share their experiences.

I have hung out with one of Israel’s most successful female producers, Anat Assoulin (Nina’s Tragedies) and talked shop. I have a coffee date lined up with Avi Gavison, the writer of Nina and also with Aharon Keshales one of the writer/directors of Big Bad Wolves, an Israeli film that is currently sweeping festivals all over the world.

Gone are the six layers of assistants and “people” necessary to gain access to these talented filmmakers. In Israel, filmmakers are happy to discuss their work and share their experiences.

Because of the internet and Skype, I maintain the same relationships with agents, managers, producers and writers that I knew in LA. I find that my connections have been roundly supportive and interested in my experiences in Israel. I have sent a handful of Israeli writer’s scripts to contacts in Los Angeles, who well aware that the talent in Israel is formidable and that is has only begun to be tapped.

I am so grateful that I live in time when my business is a global village, and in which I have the opportunity to work with and connect talent from all over the world. I like to be an emissary for the talent in Israel, and the creative scene here. And I like to maintain friendships and relationships in Hollywood at the click of a button.

Can you have your sabich and eat it too? I am. I get to work with Israeli writers and dip into the excitement of Hollywood and creativity every day. Then I get to walk down the street in my neighborhood and buy some nana for tea later, and practice my Hebrew at my favorite bakery. What a world and what a time to be alive in it.

About the Author
Julie Gray is a story editor and nonfiction writer who made the leap from Los Angeles to Israel almost seven years ago and has many (mostly) humorous adventures ever since. A longtime Huffington Post contributor and self-described "Hollywood refugee", Julie works with writers all over the world on fiction and creative non-fiction books. Her heart-of-hearts and Loving Life Buddy is a man named Gidon Lev, with whom Julie is writing a book: Not Another Holocaust Story: The True Adventures of Gidon Lev.