Younglings - Complications Ensue
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog




Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


Archives

April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

 

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Q. I'm 19, living in England, studying English at University. The plan is to finish, then do a masters of some sort in screenwriting. From there, I'd LIKE to move to the lovely USA and start my screenwriting career. So, by that time I wouldn't be that young, but my question is basically - do agents and producers etc like the young folk? Do they see them as potential talent that they can shape to their liking? Or do they see them as inexperienced, with their heads in the clouds?
As I've mentioned a few times on this blog, I don't think anyone needs a masters in screenwriting, unless their goal is to teach screenwriting at a university. Working as an assistant at an agency for a year will teach you far, far more, and you'll actually get paid for it. (Underpaid, but that's better than paying for it!) I would urge anyone thinking about getting a degree to spend eighteen months in the biz. If you still think you need that degree (you won't), then you'll make much better use of your time in school, because you'll know exactly what you need to learn, instead of flailing around like the rest of the younglings.

I don't think Hollywood is that enamored of the young. There was that 30-year-old woman who pretended to be 19 and got a job on FELICITY. But she got hired because she had the skills of a 30-year-old writer, AND people thought she was nineteen. If people thought I was 22, they'd look at my writing and conclude I must be some kind of geeeenius. If you're nineteen with the skill set of your average nineteen-year-old, no one's going to cut you slack because you're appallingly young.

it's all about the writing. And the people skills. Both of which take time to craft and build.

Some people do start out young. Once you investigate their biography a bit, you discover that their parents are in the biz. They may be staffing their first show at 21. But they have been writing screenplays since they were 11.

There is also something to be said for going out and actually living. Some screenwriters have been lawyers. Some have been criminals. I knew a guy who'd been a cop. Do you think that gave him an edge writing LAW & ORDER? Having life experience enables you to write from real life, rather than stealing moments you saw on TV -- concocted stories which everyone else saw, too.

If my son were 19 and wanted to be a screenwriter, I would suggest he travel around the world for a year. I would suggest he get a job with the Peace Corps in Southeast Asia. I would suggest he start a company. I would suggest he join a political campaign.

I spent 3 years and change getting an MFA in filmmaking at UCLA, one of the top five film programs on the continent. (USC, AFI, NYU and the CFC if you're Canadian.) I learned more about lighting working as an apprentice electrician on two features. I learned more about screenwriting from being a producer's assistant, reading scripts. I got my first permanent showbiz job because of my French skills and my computer science degree. The first time my degree proved really, really useful was last year, when I made a short film.

To be a lawyer, you need to go to professional school. Going to school for screenwriting is a way to ease into the business. It is much less scary than trying to get a job in the biz, or outside of the biz, and just writing. But if you can't get yourself going without being assigned the work, you need to learn to self-motivate.

Come to LA by all means. But forget the degree. Get a job! You can cover up that crack in the wall with art.

Labels: , ,

5 Comments:

Truly great post Alex!

I studied Computer Science and earned a Bachelor Degree and some years ago i started all over in movie business.

In some jobs there aint any way around studying (lawyer, doctor, etc.), but movie business is different.

I struggled a lot with the decision whether i should study something movie business related, but i thought i´ve studied enough in my life, i wanted to work. And if work meant starting as Production Assistant and serve coffee - so be it.

If you are 19 the whole situation is different - i can completly understand why you want to study - studying is a great time. But as Alex said, you don´t have to study screenwriting. Probably you´re even better of studying moviemaking in general or something else you like - develop your screenwriting abilities on the way. In the end you´ve got a degree in something useful AND are a screenwriter with experience.

Some while ago i posted an article on my website - my personal way to get into business: http://www.sokolar.com/blog/job-hobby-or-both-10-tips-for-the-road/

Probably that can be of help for you too....

By Blogger Michael, at 10:41 AM  

Thank you for this insightful and intelligent response to one of those "what should I do with my life?" questions. I did not get such good advice long ago, but I will share your thoughtful words with my own 19-year-old son now.

By Blogger Marty, at 3:08 PM  

I went into animation school at 18, and when it came time to make my freshman film, I realized that I had no real-world experience and had absolutely nothing to say.

I dropped out, worked in a butcher shop where every one of my coworkers was a character, a person, and had THEIR own life philosophy, which they were always eager to share... and once that got too maddening to do any longer, I quit and went freelance... a year's experience isn't so much, but it's way better than a degree.

By Blogger Emma, at 8:48 PM  

Good luck getting a visa, that's all I'll say.

By Blogger Kevin Lehane, at 9:14 PM  

I'm a 30 year-old that has been thinking about breaking into the TV and movie screenwriting biz for 5 years. Finally, I'm ready to do something about it.

Looking for some advice.

I'm about a year away from completing a PhD in environmntal marketing (i know, i wonder what that means sometimes too). I've started wrting TV specs, original features, SNL sketches etc. on the side. I'm debating whether or not to finish my PhD and just move forward.

Q1: Would a PhD be helpful AT ALL as I attempt to break into the business? (in terms of differentiating myself from others)

Q2: I've been looking at the one year writing program at Vancouver Film School. Any comments about their program?

Any other suggestions would be appreciated :)

Thanks!
Derek

By Blogger Derek W., at 2:36 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.



This page is powered by Blogger.