Here in the MFA section of Film and Television at Boston University, we get really hyped up about something most people our age find absolutely detestable as a conversational centerpiece–the future. A case could be made that we’re all just too engrossed in our own work, but the solution may be more ridiculous: it’s our school. The Film and Television department offers a pretty sweet opportunity at the end of our program, one in which we can defer our graduation after taking an additional semester of focused classes and internships in Los Angeles.
This is a pretty big deal, as jobs in Hollywood are notoriously difficult to find. When people say you need a friend in the industry, they’re not joking. This program, though, helps us get a foot in the door.
Here’s how it works. During your final semester, you send off an essay that details exactly what you want out of your future career and a portfolio of what you’ve done so far. If you’re accepted, a representative from the BU in LA program, or in my case, the Writer in LA program, will come and interview you and help you find an internship or three.
It seems to me that the question isn’t so much why you’d want to do this, but instead–why wouldn’t you?
I’m a career-minded person. I have a lot of trouble staying in the present with both of my personal and professional lives, and I’m always thinking more about the sale and production of my scripts than the actual writing of them. As soon as I’m finished getting down the premise, I’m already thinking about shots, actors, and audience reception. Now, this isn’t exactly a terrible thing, but it’s also not what I’m here to talk about.
This problem leads me to a few solutions. I’m really interested in developing stories and structures for television. I like thinking about how characters develop and change over time–after all, change is the essence of storytelling–so I’d love to get into a show-runner position.
Back up–how does this affect what I’m doing now? My goals, for now, is to get an internship working in a writer’s room. My philosophy is that the best work starts from the bottom, and being able to work my way up to the top, learning all the way, will make me more well-rounded in the end. Being in graduate school has taught me a few things, and if you’ve ever spoken to me or read my other posts on this blog, you’ve certainly been beaten over the head by this before.
First, graduate school isn’t the end of your education, but the beginning of your career. Second, it’s dangerous to have the attitude that the learning stops once you leave the school. But that’s the really brilliant thing about this program. Being able to get your start in a place like Boston is really essential, as you don’t have to fight ten thousand other filmmakers scraping for jobs, locations, and actors. The opportunity to transition over to the land of the big dogs once you’ve had a chance to learn and expand in a free-form environment sets you a cut above everyone else that’s tried (and often, failed) to run out to LA with a suitcase and a dream.
The Writer in LA program, for me, just makes sense. Hollywood is where the action happens–from writing to production. It’s the place to be if you’re serious about filmmaking, and the opportunity to have someone hold your hand while you try to figure it all out is too good to pass up.
See you in Los Angeles.