ACADEMIC SNOBBERY? - Complications Ensue
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Q. As I write my agent query letters, is it worth including academic credits if they come from a state school outside of California or New York? (For example, "I graduated with a B.A. in Drama from the University of Arkansas...") Is there such a thing as Academic Snobbery in Hollywood and can it hurt me?
I don't think any academic credits, whether impressive or not, mean much to agents, and they just make producers nervous. It's all about the hook -- whether you can write a simple, catchy query letter. If you can do that, then where you learned it is beside the point, and if you went to Harvard and you still can't come up with a hook, mentioning your credentials will just make people want to laugh and point.

There is a fair bit of reverse academic snobbery, and a lot of insider snobbery (e.g. say "L.A." not "Hollywood"), but I think very little regular academic snobbery. People who went to top schools -- and there are a lot of them -- don't usually mention it.

The exceptions would be (a) if you know that you went to the same school as your victim, er, intended recipient ("PS: Go Razorbacks!"), and (b) if you're mentioning not so much an alma mater as an institution at that university. If you were on an acclaimed comedy publication such as the Harvard Lampoon, that's worth mentioning.

I went to Yale undergraduate and got my MFA from the UCLA School of Film and Television. They used to be on my resume, of course, but I have never put either of these on a query letter; and I even hesitated about mentioning them here.

3 Comments:

Yale, eh? Pepe's or Sally's?

By Blogger Marc in MD, at 8:38 PM  

See what I'm talking about?

Actually, I went down to Pepe's about once. But I went to Naples many, many times.

What I really miss is the place around Elm and Dwight that served the great Philadelphia cheese steaks. I don't think I've ever had a cheese steak that good since. Though the truck on 110th and Broadway is pretty good.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:57 PM  

Go Hogs!

I graduated from UAMS (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences), then ranked as the number one ranked paramedic program in the US.

I still remember the 1979 homecoming game at War Memorial, when we kicked Texas's sorry good-for-nothing ass. The entire city shut down afterwards. Cold beer and hot women flowed freely through the streets all night.

God, it was wonderful.

Oh, and my first screenplay - has a moment when the Lead ends up in the hands of a paramedic. Because on your first screenplay, you write what you frigging know.

Class of 1980, UAMS
Go Hogs Go!

By Blogger Jesse Wendel, at 9:40 PM  

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