Monthly Archives: November 2012

Don’t Judge Me, Stranger

As a graduate student, I find a pretty consistent need to get myself out of my own element.  Put simply: I can’t work at home.  There’re too many distractions.  Why in the world would I ever write a script when I could just as easily go a few days on Minecraft or catch up on my Hulu queue?  Who could say no to a couple of episodes of Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23 when you should be working on the next great feature-length revisionist male melodrama?  Don’t answer that.

As a screenwriter, one of the best solutions I’ve found for beating distraction is locking myself into a booth at a coffee shop.  If people can see me not working, they’ll be suspicious that I’m wasting my life away, and I just can’t have strangers thinking that about me.  My roommates, my parents, my professors?  Fine.  But not you, guy who’s read every David Foster Wallace book cover to cover and had three reviews well-rated on Goodreads.  Not you. So, for you, Mr. Well-Read, I’ve compiled my three favorite places to be guilted by passersby into getting my work done.

Trident Cafe and Booksellers

Oh my God.  Talk about environment.  We’re looking here at a not-meager sized collection of books and blank journals packed right next to the best poutine and Monte Cristo I’ve ever had in my entire life (and I’ve eaten a lot of Canadian junk food.)  Plus, if you order food, and you definitely will, attractive people will bring you free refills of coffee.  The great thing about this place, though, is that everyone else there is working just as hard as you, and it’s not just college students, which is refreshing.  In all honesty, I find myself even rating this place to my bitter enemies.  They should pay me in free banana-stuffed french toast.

Oh, and they’re open until midnight.  Not a hard sell.

Espresso Royale

This place isn’t as obscure as Trident, but if you can manage to get a seat, you’re good to go.  This place even smells great, and they’ve put just enough work into the decor to not feel so hip and trendy that it’s alienating.  Now, like I said, they hardly ever have a seat open, and on top of that, the electrical sockets are few and far between, but this place has its picture on Wikipedia right next to “coffee shops conducive to a positive work environment.”  I’ve had countless meetings here with mentors and writing partners, and when I don’t feel like straying too far from campus, this is the place I’ll wander into.

Refuge Cafe

Live in Allston?  This place is right on the corner of Brighton and Harvard waiting for you.  Cushy chairs, sensual hipster-folk, bay windows, and art for sale on the walls.  They make a mean breakfast burrito (I have an eating problem, go away) and pour a decent cup of coffee.  Plus, they almost always have a seat open, and there’s just enough of a buzz of conversation in the air to keep you suitably distracted, but also remind you that your peers are definitely judging you for browsing DogShaming.com.

Now, children, the forty-fifth remake of Dickens’s The Christmas Carol beckons you from the snowy white of the untouched Final Draft document you’ve had open on your laptop for the last four days.  Get yourself to one of these great Boston locales.  The attractive waitstaff patiently holds a table for you!

Meet Rucker Manley

The Art of Giving (or, “What I Did on My Thanksgiving Vacation”)

Once a year, I throw a party.  Now, I can’t tell you what kind of party it is, but it’s Beersgiving, and you, prospective graduate student, are invited.  Except next year, it’s in Los Angeles.

So here’s how it goes.  Fellow screenwriter Chris and I invite a bunch of cool (and not lame) of-legal-drinking-age people over to one of our apartments and prepare a feast: last year, it was cajun-rub turkey, and this year, it was apricot-tequila turkey (and not as good as last year.)  Usually, we’ll try to get together and do something wholesome and family oriented.  For example, the year of the very first Beersgiving, we watched the cult smash megahorror, Jordan Downey’s ThanksKilling. Gobble.

That’s all hogwash, though.  How I celebrate holidays of lesser capitalist prominence isn’t what’s important to me about both of these potluck-centric parties.  I don’t consider myself any sort of saint, but after at least four years of undergraduate study, I came to a realization: there are a whole lot of people that have to spend certain holidays alone.  I wanted an opportunity to make that easier on people, and I lured them in with turkey and macaroni and cheese, and it totally worked.

Your graduate cohort is a family, which means that for the next two years (or however long your program lasts), you’re stuck with them, usually for the best.  They’ll build you up, cut you down, and won’t come to your Thanksgiving party, but these precious people will also have the heart to look you in the eye and tell you exactly how and why your advertising campaign or script or essay on the Messiah in musicals sucks so bad.

I’ve really come to rely on the people in my program, but don’t tell them that.  I’ve found that my reputation as “the honest guy” sort of proceeds me at BU COM, but whenever I’ve needed something from one of my cohort, a quick text message and look over whatever I’m working on reminds me that yes, graduate students are much better people than everyone else.

This year’s party ended with a rousing game of Bang!, one of my favorite Spaghetti Western card games.  A certain film student knocked another film student out pretty quickly, and tensions there are high or whatever, but all-in-all, it was good.  Somehow, five meat eaters and four vegetarians consumed an entire sixteen pound turkey, which leads me to believe that vegetarianism might be some sort of ploy by the soy industry, but I’ll keep my theories on that to myself.

Meet Kendal Peirce

My third and final semester is drawing to a close and I find myself looking back on the past year and a half. It’s amazing how fast this program goes by. One minute I was introducing myself to my new peers, the next we are holed up in someone’s apartment cramming for our final comprehensive exam.

Since it’s an accelerated graduate program, I learned a lot in a short amount of time, especially how to cope with unending deadlines and insomnia (thank you spring semester). I can honestly say I am prepared for anything. Meeting-room full of hostile web developers? Bring it. Oral Presentation class taught me the only thing I have to fear is, well, Professor O’Connor. I now have the confidence to speak in any venue, in front of any audience, under any duress.

Surprisingly (though it shouldn’t be), most of the classes I value the most are the ones I’m required to take as part of my major: Communication Studies.

-       Law of Communication prepared me for the ambiguous future of digital law. Always good to know when you’re stealing something. You might say I know too much.

-       Communication Theory illuminated the reasoning behind certain communication strategies. Which will help me as I set out to manipulate consumers and their impressionable minds.

-       Contemporary Media, as someone from a non-communication background, helped set the stage for me in terms of the current state of communication and its possible future. Allows me to be depressed with reasonable cause.

-       Design and New Media II (not required) helped me develop an actual creative portfolio. I even built a functioning microsite – Click Here. Just kidding, I haven’t finished it yet.

Though there is a mountain of work left to do I still force myself to relax and take in what Boston has to offer during the holidays: the Boston Ballet’s annual production of the Nutcracker; Faneuil Hall’s tree lighting, now coupled with a blinding (literally) 140,000 LCD light display; ice skating on the Frog Pond; numerous concerts I probably should have been doing work during; and, of course, the restaurants and bars. You can often find me on Thursday nights, consuming large amounts of nachos at Sunset Cantina or, on Friday nights, hitting up my favorite classy bar, Drink, in the North End (Drink by name and by reputation).

Though I can’t wait for the work to end, I am sad to leave BU and Boston behind. I feel prepared for my chosen career, but I’ll miss the people in the program (students and professors) and the collegiate atmosphere. Maybe I can find a way to stay an extra semester….

Meet Andy Bunker

Hello prospective Boston University students.

My name is Andy Bunker, and I am a current broadcast journalism graduate student at BU. This blog is designed to give you an inside look at the school through the eyes and words of someone who is going through the program. We are constantly working on interesting projects, covering big news stories, and holding fun events, and this blog will help keep your finger to the pulse of the BU College of Communication. Right now the biggest item on your radar is most likely applying to the school. I realize that you may be getting a little stressed while in the midst of the application process, so I wanted to offer a bit of advice since I was in your shoes at this time last year.

Here is a short list of helpful hints to make applying easier.

1. Getting started. If you haven’t already done so, start the online application by clicking here. If you haven’t started, don’t fret it’s not too late, but you do want to get going soon as many of the requirements take time to complete.

2. Check things off. Once you get going with the online application, you will not only have the application information packet to help guide the process, but you will also start to receive progress updates from our graduate services office. Every time you complete another step in the application process, you will get an email confirming your progress.

3. Ask questions. If you have questions, about anything, email the school. There is a very helpful team of students and faculty, including myself, that is happy to help answer any questions you may have. Ask anything, we’ve heard it all before so don’t hesitate even if you think it’s a weird question. The email address is comgrad@bu.edu.

4. Keep up the pace. Take care of all the steps that you can control as quickly as you can. That means contacting your recommenders, scheduling your tests, finding your best writing samples, editing your essays and sending your transcripts. You can’t control how quickly your recommenders write and send the recommendations, all you can do is contact them as early as possible so they don’t feel pressured by a deadline.

5. Manage your time. Set aside time to work on the application. If you are anything like me, the thought of the unfinished application requirements will hang over your head like a rain cloud if you don’t know when you will work on them next. Do yourself a favor and reduce the stress by scheduling a few hours a week to just fine comb your application.

6. Remember the date. Circle December 15th as a goal. If you really want to help reduce your stress, try to meet the priority admission notification deadline. This deadline simply requires that you have your online application finished, and that you pay the $70 application fee. But again, if you are anything like me, completing this step helps in a number of ways. First, you will get your admissions decision before applicants who don’t meet the early deadline. Second, it gives you a month and half to complete the remaining admission requirements. And most important, getting things done early feels good!! Instant stress reduction!!

I hope these hints help in the process. The most important of these is #3. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email the graduate services office. Comgrad@bu.edu is a great way to get quick answers that will help you in applying. BU is a great place, you have made a smart decision in applying here. In the next blog I will talk more about the things you will get to do once you get here. That’s when the fun really starts!

 

Meet Kendall Salter

I had never seen Boston University. Never set foot in the classroom. Never seen the city. Never met a professor or sat in on a class. I had no idea what to expect.

This is part of the reason I decided to come to the College of Communication in the first place. The adventure was too exciting to pass up. There comes a point in everyone’s life when the chance to pick up and move everything becomes extinct, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. When presented with the opportunity to pull up long-established, southern California roots, I took advantage of it, knowing full well potential complications that could ensue.

Here’s the best part: I’ve never regretted my decision. Part of the reason I took the proverbial leap is that the administration here at COM was incredible. The amount of resources at our disposal is significant, and everyone here — from faculty on down — is willing and able to help students on a daily basis. The atmosphere you will find here at COM is welcoming, exciting, creative and most importantly, challenging. There are people here to help you. Very wonderful, smart, talented people. So please do yourself a favor and take advantage of it.

Classes are taught by a faculty steeped in professionalism and hell-bent on making you a success. Nobody phones it in at COM. Every day is as tough as the next, and every day is as great of an experience. The things I learn in the classroom go far beyond any traditional tests or essays. Seriously, folks: don’t think about the grade. Learn all you can, work hard, and the rest will take care of itself. You may not always succeed, but when you don’t, it will be a learning experience you won’t forget.

I can’t speak highly enough of our professors. I’ve had long visits in office hours, spoken to some on their home phones, received emails from as far away as Iceland, and have never been turned down when asking for more advice. They are here to help you. They are the best their respective fields has to offer — prize winners and innovators held in the highest esteem. If you aren’t getting all you can from them, you’re missing out.

COM is hard. It’s supposed to be. It should be. That’s how I learn, and if you appreciate being pushed to the extreme reaches of your potential, you will flourish here at B.U. The city of Boston has so much to offer people in this field. It’s a major media market with countless job opportunities, and B.U.’s alumni base is enormous. There’s art and entertainment, culture, music, sports, plays, productions, great food, walking paths, parks, lakes, beaches, boats, trolleys, and more. You will never discover everything, but you’ll dig up plenty of hidden gems.

B.U. has lived up to almost all of my expectations. I’ll be sad to leave it, but much better for the experience. Everyone here is working to help find what it is you are best and and push you past what you thought was your creative limit. I can pay COM no higher a compliment than that.