Screenwriting : Screenwriting college degrees. A good or bad idea? by Marvin Willson

Marvin Willson

Screenwriting college degrees. A good or bad idea?

Is it worth using your college fund on? What are the advantages/disadvantages? While I agree that the craft, to an extent, can be learned, does it give you the tools to make a career? What about raw talent vs education? Let's discuss.

Henry Rivers

Talent cannot be taught, creating meaningful stories with witty dialog, Comes from within, usually from a Life Time of Experience, when submitting a script to an Agent or Studio, No one will ask for your grade point average, or if you can solve Geometric and Aero Dynamic drag issues on nuclear propulsion systems used in space flights to Zeta Reticuli or ask you , questions about Calvin Kline Cologne if it will attract you to a better class of Whores. The only advantage is you are surround by people that want to Write and therefore you become motivate to work on your craft, its no different than joining Stage32, What is important is your environment pick your environment and you will become the product of that environment, hangout with thief's you become a thief, hang out with a drug addict become a drug addict etc. etc... The answer to your question should I use My College Fund to do such, and such, It's all a CRAP SHOOT, unless YOU direct your FOCUS to what you want to become...

Charlotte Hardt

You can only learn techniques. It is sort of sad to see all the English majors who end up being readers..and not writers. Then again, if you have the creative talent, the school you choose will be more important for the connections to the particular film community you want to be joining.

Tabitha Baumander

I once went to a lecture given by a guy who went to the big name Vancouver screenwriting school. He ended the thing by admitting that he could pitch anything and sell it but he still didn't know if he was a good writer.

Marvin Willson

Do you need to go to college to learn techniques? Couldn't you learn them from just writing and reading?

Viquii Johannesson (Vicki Johnson)

Marvin, I think it depends on you. What you know already about screenwriting, and what you can read from purchasing books, listening to video interviews from the vets, and visiting scriptwriting Networks like ISA International Screenwriting Association, and and Scriptapalooza.. also, just find the format of a screenplay, it's a 3-Act Theatrical format and formatted for filmmaking as a screenplay not a theatre, then just write your story at least 90 pages, and up to 200, you only need 120, but the more you write the better, you can always cut but once you cut too much you can't go back. There are too many people in the the industry that never had a screenwriting school per se' although they have learn the craft and mastered it.. you will need to also. But, it's up to your learning ability and the energy and talent you put into your screenplay.. someone once suggested I use the (c) symbol on my scripts and screenplays in the classroom because teachers and instructor have stolen ideas from the classroom.. FYI , of course not all, but they do exist..

Marvin Willson

Viquil - Firstly, I am not asking the question for myself, but merely posing the question. Also Secondly - As a point of reference, avoid placing copyright/WGA notices on your screenplays, it's regarded as a rookie mistake.

Christopher Hart

I'm currently pursuing my B.S in film studies. My career goal is to become a screenwriter. I'm learning that my writing must be constantly active. College is helping me with my discipline. Juggling 6 classes this semester, and finishing the first act of a writing assignment for my midterm, shows me that I can write timely. True, I didn't need to spend $40,000 to learn the techniques, but, there are other jobs that I can get, if I don't sell a story. Meeting contacts, getting constant feedback, are all advantages. The only dis-advantage is wasting any opportunities to succeed. I have a question, is it really a bad thing to deter thieves from your screenplay, by putting copyright confirmation on it?

Steven P Baer

Unless you are going to an university (on one coast or the other) that is known for it’s film school… or after graduation, you can be happy teaching the craft, you might want to consider a more realistic academic pursuit. Research and actual writing are paramount in screenwriting. The more you write, the more the experience (if you are any good). There are many books out there that can teach you everything you need to know about screenwriting. Bottom line, even though you may think that you may be God’s gift to great screenplays, it is always good to have a solid plan B.

Marvin Willson

@steven - I had a conversation with a very powerful network executive and he always asks writers one question. "What's your plan B?" If they have one, he never hires them, because he says, they've already failed.

Shirley Nishimoto

Personally, I think it was worth it. I did not go to a big name college/film school because I did not want to be saddled with loans. What you do get is the opportunity to get a critique from your peers in a relatively safe environment. Each class forces you to come up with ideas and follow through with a completed script. Without either, I doubt I would have written as many complete scripts but that's just me. I can't speak for learning from books. What I will say is that what I heard most instructors/professors say is there are certain standards in format and readability that apply but for the correct way to go about writing...the sky's the limit. As for talent, even talent needs to be able to put their ideas on paper in a readable fashion (whether book learned or through classes). And finally, though I have a degree in screenwriting, though I have learned how to write well, I am still learning what makes a great script pop.

Krystol Diggs

I've always been a writer. But, I just got my Master's in Creative Writing from Full Sail was a great school. I learned a lot.

Marvin Willson

What was the biggest thing you took away from that experience Krystol?

Krystol Diggs

The biggest thing I took away was knowing how to write not just films but Tv, animation, games. I knew none of that before going to the school. So now if someone wants to work with me in one of those areas, I can do so. Plus, it makes my skills wider to find a job in more then one area of writing. But, I haven't found a job yet...that's the hard part.

Monique Mata

Everything you need to learn about screenwriting is free on the internet, including peer readers. It just takes individual incentive to filter out the information that will benefit you most. That said, I think the biggest advantage of going to a screenwriting school is making connections with instructors who are already in the industry.

Mark Souza

You don't need to go to college to become a writer. I'm a big believer in the million word theory. If you write consistently, after you hit your millionth word, you're bound to be pretty decent. But, if you're young and looking for a faster track, you can learn technique at a vastly accelerated pace by enrolling in a good college program. Being directed by quality instructors is always a faster way to learn than floundering about through the land of trial and error. Either way, if you are persistent, you get there. And no writer makes it without persistence.

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