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Old 03-18-2017, 01:37 PM   #1
ybell
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Screenwriting Path Question

I am asking a question for my son who is about to start college. He wants to be a screenwriter. He has been accepted to the Screenwriting major at Chapman University and to UC Berkeley's Film major. Obviously, the Chapman degree is more appropriate.

However, he was in a program in high school called middle college, which has enabled him to complete the first two years of college (basically an A.A. degree) by his senior year. However, this only applies to UC schools - Chapman would only allow about one semester's worth of transfer.

So, my question is this: should he go to Cal, get his Film degree in two years, and then go to Chapman for two years to get an MFA in Screenwriting, or go to Chapman for 3.5 years and get the B.A.? This, of course, assumes he can get accepted into the MFA program after graduation, but let's assume that. Also, the Cal/Chapman path would cost about 30% less.

Any input would be appreciated.
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Old 03-19-2017, 12:53 PM   #2
directorik
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If he comes out of school with at least five completed screenplays
it doesn't matter which schools he went to. When he finishes school
he will need to write five more and start at the bottom. Hell, he could
get one year into Chapman and sell a script if he's good enough.

Film and screenwriting is unlike any other program - an MFA is meaningless
in the industry unless he wants an office job. No producer looking for
a script is going to ask about his MFA, they are going to want to read
an excellent, marketable script.

Take the path that will cost less.
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Old 03-19-2017, 06:08 PM   #3
ybell
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Thanks for the helpful info. One other thing I worry about as a parent, is that my son won't end up in film, and then his Chapman film degree won't help much, but a degree from Cal might be more positively viewed upon outside of film. I guess, after your first job, it really makes little difference...
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Old 03-19-2017, 09:20 PM   #4
trik_u
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I was a Screenwriting MFA at Chapman and learned a lot more about screenwriting from screenwriting books and UCLA Extension courses. I should've taken filmmaking courses instead. If you're a good writer--something that can't necessarily be taught--it'd be a lot cheaper just reading all the screenwriting books and taking a course here and there, rather than spending tens of thousands on a full-blown university. (I think the screenwriting degrees at USC and UCLA make you write more scripts before you graduate than Chapman, but that might've changed since I went)

Your son would be better off learning filmmaking skills and going to work at an agency and make contacts that way. Most producers want a finished product like a short film or something short on YouTube or another streaming venue. Producers are a lot less likely to take two hours to read a script than to watch something shorter on Youtube. A filmmaking degree will open a lot more doors than a screenwriting degree. You could hit a screenwriter just by exhaling out here.

I wished someone had told me what I'm telling you now. I hope I can save your son a lot of time with some hard-learned advice.
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:05 AM   #5
ybell
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Wow, thanks. I'll pass that info along. I don't know how easily my son could move majors at Chapman, but he could at least skew his classes to the extent possible toward film-making.
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Old 03-20-2017, 12:16 PM   #6
Sweetie
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Quote:
I worry about as a parent, is that my son won't end up in film
If I were you, I'd be more worried if he made it into film.

The degree is only useful as a backup plan. He'd be better off getting a degree in finance or law. It'd do as a great backup and would also help if he ever decided to become a producer.
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Old 03-20-2017, 02:25 PM   #7
directorik
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I agree with Sweetie, if you want your son to get a degree that might
be more positively viewed upon outside of film then a degree in film
is not the degree to get. Business or law is the degree you should
encourage your son to go after. He can still write screenplays if that's
his passion. He can still make short films if that's his passion.

My advice; have your son wait for a year. Apply to the business school
at Berkeley. Take that year to write at least three screenplays and make
three short films. Maybe even take a couple of classes at SJSU to connect
with other aspiring filmmakers. If he really wants to be a screenwriter
he'll write. If he really wants to be a director he'll make short films. After
that year away from school both you and he will know if a film degree is
of better value than a business, finance or law degree.
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