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Messages posted since 07/27/2014
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Topic: A High School Senior Who Wants To Be A Screenwriter Needs Help...

Author: Savannah Sanchez Posted: 07/25/10 08:41 PM

I'm a high school senior who is in love with film for more than its entertainment value. I'm going to be graduating early, in December to be more specific. I want to be a screenwriter and a director. But mostly a screenwriter.

My dilemma is this: Do I have to go to a film school to learn more about this awesome craft, or would studing by myself it be a better advantage?

Any suggestions would be helpful. -Thanks.

Author: L.J. Wright Posted: 07/25/10 09:25 PM

I think if you can afford to go to film school then you should because I think not only will you learn a lot, you'll benefit from making relationships. You might end up making short films while in school and I've heard it can really help you break into the industry if you go to film school first.

Not that everyone who is a writer/director went to film school, but if you can afford it then I think (depending on what school you go to) it'll greatly benefit you.

Learning things on your own is fine, I had to do that, but If I could have gone to film school, especially in California, then I would have certainly done that.

Author: Paula Smith Posted: 07/26/10 12:01 AM

I saw in your profile that you are in Colorado. You may want to consider classes at local schools. I don't know if this school is reputable or not. You'll have to do the research. The local college might also offer film classes.

Colorado Film School " 9075 E Lowry Blvd, Bldg. 965 Denver, CO 80230 " (303) 340-7321

Author: James Pickering Posted: 07/26/10 04:32 AM

There are advantages for studying film and/or screenwriting at university.

For me personally i got to spend three excellent years watching film after film on their original print and on the big screen.

A lot of films I may never have seen were it not for Uni. I got to study the French New Wave, Italian Neo Realism, silent cinema, lots of other European cinema as well as Hollywood (just to name a few areas) in a lot of detail, and one of the best ways to learn about film is watch films.

Secodly, as someone mentioned above, there's the relationship side of things. I'm on good terms with two university lecturers who will read my work and offer very good and honest feedback. Which saves me money before I go to a consultant. Also you never know who you'll study with. I have a friend now who has just landed a job as script supervisor on a British comedy feature. It's looking like it's going to Cannes and Sundance next year. A lot of it is who you know and not what you know.

However film school isn't a must. In terms of the screenwriting I learnt during my time it wasn't that helpful. Overall though it's a fantastic three years where you get to study something you love while meeting great people and spending about half the time drunk - Having the vodka sweats first thing on a monday morning when you're studying Hungarian cinema - NIGHTMARE!

Author: Timothy Jay Smith Posted: 07/26/10 10:23 AM

You have the chance to go to film school, then go to film school. It can only do you good. If you don't want to write dumb comedies or vampire stories (and thus not succeed in Hollywood), you won't -- you'll write what you want and get some foundation for doing it right. Take the opportunity.

Author: Savannah Sanchez Posted: 07/26/10 11:21 AM

Thanks to everyone. I read what everyone had to say over and over again. It really halps when I get a new perspective from outside help. I'm an over thinker, so this definately helps.

Author: Andrew Duncan Posted: 07/27/10 03:40 PM

The absolute best advice anyone can give you is to just start writing and don't stop. No lessons are learned better then through passionate trial and error. If you truly love this kind of work and remain dedicated and driven the other info will come to you over time as you develop and continue to seek out books and forums like this one.

I honestly believe the main reason most do not succeed is that they don't realize there are years and years of not being very good that you have to power through in order to get better, then eventually good enough, and finally for a handful of people really excellent. Most read over night success stories not realizing it took that person 6 years of nothing happening, followed by four where something almost did, then another two of doing shit jobs until they lucked out with something that actually got made.

Thus, the sooner you can begin this odyssey when you don't know any better and there's less at stake, the greater chance you'll have of sticking with it and finding some success.

Author: Savannah Sanchez Posted: 07/28/10 12:25 AM

Andrew, talk about telling the truth. I totally agree!

Author: Walter Winton Posted: 07/28/10 02:26 PM

If you want to be a director, film school is an enormous plus. Making a short is often prohibitively expensive, but in film school, you'll have access to fellow peers who are required to serve on your crew for course credit (and are eager to do it). It's a great way to learn, make contacts, and walk out with a finished product.

On the flip side, I consider a screenwriting major a waste of money and time. I know a lot of people who graduated from the screenwriting programs from USC, UCLA, Columbia, and AFI. Those four years and thousands of dollars have placed them perhaps two steps ahead of everyone else... and the ground is easy to make up.

You should definitely take some screenwriting classes where ever you end up going. But don't feel like you have to pick up a degree in it.

Author: Tim Morgan Posted: 08/29/10 09:33 PM

I agree with Andrew. Write, write, write!

I'll go a step further:

I assume you have a computer since you're on here. If you don't have one, get one.

Get yourself a copy of one of the screenwriting programs like Final Draft or MovieMagic Screenwriter. It's money well spent since it'll do the formatting for you and let you focus on writing. (If you're really good with Word or your word processor, you can probably set up styles...though sometimes I think that's more of a pain than it's worth)

Get a used camera off Craigslist. You can get a capture device like a Dazzle for short money (which will include a "lite" version of Pinnacle Studio). I think my Dazzle cost me $50 when I bought it?

Start yourself a YouTube channel. It's free, unlimited, and available to everyone. I mean EVERYONE.

Welcome to the digital age. You've now got everything you need to make movies.

I know I'm dating myself here - when I got my BA degree, streaming MPEG video was just coming into its own...now the price of the technology (and more importantly, the ability to deliver it) has dropped so much it's within reach of the average consumer.

You can find talent anywhere - your friends, family, enemies...I'd stick to people you know right now, or friends-of-friends...

The other thing to know is if you're really an artist, this isn't going to leave you no matter what. I had a couple of kids and I'm just getting back into this after a 13 year "sabbatical" (it's a long story but a cool one...probably got a script or two in it).

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 08/30/10 10:25 AM

Great advice Tim. I say make movies cheaply. Nothing will teach you how boring your writing can be until you're sitting in a room with people you respect (or even better want to impress) and your film just isn't what you want it to be. Then you know that you need to make a script great because you've personally experience what it feels like to dissapoint an audience. With each film you'll become a better and better writer. These are films you can throw away after the lesson is learned, so don't worry about making lots of mistakes.

However, spend as little money as possible. Read the Ten Minute Film School at the back of Rober Rodriguez' book 'Rebel Without a Crew'. In fact read the whole book. You'll be shocked at how little you can make films for and how much you'll learn as a writer.

Additionally, read Story by Rober McKee and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. This will give you a firm grasp of the lingo of screenwriters and help you to discuss your craft with other writers.

Good luck!

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 08/30/10 10:25 AM

Great advice Tim. I say make movies cheaply. Nothing will teach you how boring your writing can be until you're sitting in a room with people you respect (or even better want to impress) and your film just isn't what you want it to be. Then you know that you need to make a script great because you've personally experience what it feels like to dissapoint an audience. With each film you'll become a better and better writer. These are films you can throw away after the lesson is learned, so don't worry about making lots of mistakes.

However, spend as little money as possible. Read the Ten Minute Film School at the back of Rober Rodriguez' book 'Rebel Without a Crew'. In fact read the whole book. You'll be shocked at how little you can make films for and how much you'll learn as a writer.

Additionally, read Story by Rober McKee and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. This will give you a firm grasp of the lingo of screenwriters and help you to discuss your craft with other writers.

Good luck!