MASTERS & DOCTORS OF SCREENPLAYS
Tyler McC. asks:
Do you find artists - in my case, a screen and TV writer - benefit from graduate studies in artistic fields, or would they be better served to pursue their career more directly after graduation from college?
These are the best days of our lives. A student for having the opportunity to go to school; a teacher for the joy of sharing wisdom and experience. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Don't be too eager to challenge the system. Preparation is the best offense. If you are able to continue your education and earn an advanced degree I strongly urge you to do so. Screenwriting is the highest art form, mostly because it is so very much about what is not written on the page. Screenplay pages bear more white than black and every single word counts. The subtleties inherent in the work are profound. Your career is for the rest of your life and there is no artificial time frame. The more prepared one is the better. The proof of your talent will lay in the quality of your work. The essence of the game is story. The more life experience one brings to the story telling process the less often he will rely on cliche and repetition. The averages say that you will write ten screenplays before you get one made. Devotion to the practice of the craft will be best demonstrated by taking action and turning out a body of work. It helps to learn production, acting and directing as well. The great screenwriters understand the contribution of these core professions and their work reflects that training and knowledge. Film making is one of the most sophisticated team sports on the planet. It is very expensive and the studios and film financiers hedge their bets by employing the most experienced craftsmen and women. Learning by doing is a process that begins more easily in television but even that medium has a power structure in place and there is a definite status-quo to be conquered. A writer who is the holder of MFA and PHD degrees has more time to prepare and create works to be exploited. Also, they carry the perception of intelligence and discipline which are valuable assets in any business environment. And, it should be presumed that there will be a breaking in period. The ability to teach can reinforce one's survival during the developmental years. Take all the education you can get and prepare yourself for the inevitable resistance, to your industry access and career development, that is certain to come. There is a screenplay in every computer and only the very best will be contenders in the most competitive environment on the planet. Remember, it is not about the writing, its about the rewriting. Study long and hard, write every day and never give up.