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Sunday, April 10, 2005

I'm writing my section on whether TV writing programs in film school help. I'm not convinced they do. So please comment:

a. If you've gone to film school, did it help your career? How? Did you learn valuable skills, or just make valuable friends?
b. If you've written for TV, did you learn anything in film school? Ever met anyone who did?
c. Did you ever hire anyone from film school?

Please mention if you work in TV or film.



In order:

a) Yes, I went to film school, but not TV writing. Any filmmaking skills I learned, I really learned by doing. However there was a lot of support from the faculty in terms of one on one consultation and trouble shooting advice. They also got me some grip and electric jobs to start. It helped to see how pros act on set so those jobs were invaluable when it came time for me to produce.

b) I write scripts for the D2DVD market, live events (The DVD Exclusive Awards) and PR/marketing copy.

Anything I learned in terms of writing has come from writing and reading and my session at Writer's Boot Camp. A great program and I highly recommend it. If TV wants me, then I'll gladly write for that medium too.

c) I do hire film school students as interns, because they want to learn, and they want to be there. They are also cheap - a factor I am not afraid to put out there because interns who've worked with me get a lot in return - homework and feedback for example.

In the D2DVD market of budgets less than $250K, opportunities are disguised as hard work. Nobody gets rich off of one picture.


The movies we do are on the shelves and the companies provide a resume' building "opportunity". In addition, minorities are better represented on D2DVD crews.

Not quite the answer you wanted I'm sure as it doesn't relate directly to TV.

I would be interested in knowing if TV producers are thinking of DVD as they progress toward the end of their seasons. What arrangements do they make with the studios?

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 8:12 PM  

I'm from Finland (= ultramodern country in Northern Europe), so I guess you cannot quite compare my experience with the Northern American Filmschools, but...

I'm just (finally) writing my screenwriting thesis for University of Art and Design Helsinki, Department of Film and Television (aka Helsinki Film School). I started my studies 1998 so it's already a time for me to graduate.

It's so hard to get in to this only university-level film school in Finland, that getting in is already a credit.

Actually, it's the only credit you get from that school...

After I was accepted to the film school, one of the teachers recommended me to the writing team of Finland's most popular (and only) daily soap series. I think being in a writing team of that series was much harder school than the film school.

Only 2-3 of the 15-18 writers of that series had been in a film school. Rest of them had learned the craft elsewhere -- or learned it by writing that series.

I met my husband, who is also one of my writing partners, in the school. Also many of Finland's feature film directors and producers went to that school, which kind of helps to find a common ground with them -- but not with the television people.

Unfortunately the credibility and the contacts are almost the only thing I got from the school. Yes, they taught us all the basic theories from Aristotle to Robert McKee, but I learned so much more about writing in the real screenwriting teams than in the school. The problem is that most of our teachers hadn't really worked that much as writers -- maybe that's why they concentrate so much more on the theories than on actual writing process.

Altough my Department has the word "television" in its name, the program concentrates mainly in short film and feature film writing.

This is really ridiculous, since it's so much easier to make a decent living here as a television writer than as a feature writer (I've done both though).

I've worked in several writing teams ever since and now that I come to think of it, none of my co-writers (except my husband, who dropped out from the school) actually went to a film school.

I've also met many European television and feature film writers and cannot remember that anyone of them would have thanked a film school for their carreer.

I think it is very hard to teach screenwriting in a school. Yes, you can teach the theories and talk about the craft, but that's only 30 % (or less) of the whole screenwriting process. For me the best screenwriting school has been the various projects with other professional screenwriters, story editors, script editors, producers, directors, buyers and script consultants.

Love your book (just purchased it from New York) and website!

Have a great spring!

Katri Manninen

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:08 PM  

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