To spark creativity and build the types of relationships needed to earn trust (especially with the goal of being a director), living and working within these areas could be greatly beneficial, but it's not a requirement.
Here are just a few famous directors that don't live in LA: George Lucas, David Lynch, Robert Rodriguez, Richard Linklater
It tends to be a lot more flexible for screenwriters.
Since you are a student, for a little inspiration, the youngest Academy Award winner for screenwriting is Ben Affleck, who won alongside Matt Damon, for GOOD WILL HUNTING when they were in college in Boston.
There are actually creative writing and screenwriting jobs in your hometown of Kansas City.
If interested in TV, LA still seems like the place to be for directing and screenwriting, because that's where most of the executives and producers are that make the decisions, even if they are filming somewhere else, and that is a fast paced market.
Kristina recommends the following next steps:
- Intersted in living/working in bigger cities? https://www.moviemaker.com/best-places-to-live-and-work-as-a-moviemaker-2019-big-cities/
- Interested in living/working in smaller towns? https://www.moviemaker.com/best-places-to-live-and-work-as-a-moviemaker-2019-small-cities-and-towns/
- Find out more about KC film https://www.filmconnection.com/school-locations/kansas-city/