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BuddernScotch

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone, hopefully someone might read this and not be upset at this broad cry for help on entering the film industry for writing.

I'd love to write, in some form, and have heard of writer's assistants, and eventually working upwards from there. However, to become a writer's assistant I would need to go to grad school or get some good internships related to the industry, at the least. For now, grad school seems to be an impossibility (just got rejected, probably never could have afforded it anyway - I'm Canadian so that would be 60k a year). In terms of internships, no place seems to want me for my lack of experience. I applied to things in Toronto (TIFF for example), but I'm sadly underqualified, and they don't really want to see your writing so much as your work/volunteer experience. So right now it just seems like there's no way to even begin to work towards my goal. I'd love to pull all-nighters and tear at my hair until I got bald from all the stress of trying to become a recognized screenwriter, but I can't seem to even get a glimpse at any opportunity to enter the industry. Even though Toronto is great, I wouldn't even know where to start here, without spending a lot of money on classes and meeting people that way.

Does anyone have any advice, or any insights? Is volunteering my only option at this point?

Thank you for reading.
 

louweaver

Member
Hi - i can't pretend to any authority on making it as a writer, but i hear what you're saying. have you considered the UCLA professional program in screenwriting? it's online, and costs around 5 grand. i did it a few years ago and got a lot out of the program. it was the same professors at UCLA, you'll come out of it with two scripts, and i absolutely think it made my writing better. you'll also get a ready-made writing group. people you can talk shop with, exchange pages, ideas, support, etc. best of luck!
 

BuddernScotch

Well-Known Member
Hi - i can't pretend to any authority on making it as a writer, but i hear what you're saying. have you considered the UCLA professional program in screenwriting? it's online, and costs around 5 grand. i did it a few years ago and got a lot out of the program. it was the same professors at UCLA, you'll come out of it with two scripts, and i absolutely think it made my writing better. you'll also get a ready-made writing group. people you can talk shop with, exchange pages, ideas, support, etc. best of luck!

Hey, thanks for your response! That's a good idea, but the main reason I applied to the obscenely competitive programs at USC and UCLA was to be able to move into that environment physically, as it's so hard to break into the industry from so far away when you know no one. So, if I was there, I thought I'd get more chances to meet people in person that could help. Because it feels so difficult to create opportunities for myself, I guess I kind of dreamt that getting into grad school at the best places would do the job for me...

would you say that doing the online program gave you a bit of an... I don't like this phrase but... "in" - resources or a roadmap of some sort, perhaps?
 

panda

Well-Known Member
Do you live in a large Canadian city? Does that city have film festivals or film nonprofits? Are you interested in independent filmmaking, mainstream feature films, or television?

Regardless, keep a writing habit. Write, and write, and write. Attend gatherings of local filmmakers. Or apply again next year.

Or, if it's truly your dream, find a way to Los Angeles. Making it as a writer in the industry is dependent on connections and on forming relationships with other artists and creatives. It's hard to upend your life, and it's not for everyone. Writing is hard, and it's scary, and it's even scarier when you're trying to do it while sustaining yourself financially in a new environment where you know hardly anyone (or nobody, as may be the case).

Graduate school provides an immediate sense of belonging and places you within a network of dozens of creative, passionate individuals. It's like having the best and brightest selected for you to befriend and go out into the industry alongside. This, alongside the advisement and unique professional opportunities a graduate degree provides, is sufficient reason for many people to go into momentary debt.

But it's always going to be a difficult challenge and you will always need to be moving forward. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and your first round applying to graduate school is part of that forward movement. Good jobs don't come easily, especially in LA, even with a degree and with experience, much less without either. It's your responsibility to put forth the effort to find those opportunities while advocating for yourself and the stories you tell.
 
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BuddernScotch

Well-Known Member
Do you live in a large Canadian city? Does that city have film festivals or film nonprofits? Are you interested in independent filmmaking, mainstream feature films, or television?

Regardless, keep a writing habit. Write, and write, and write. Attend gatherings of local filmmakers. Or apply again next year.

Or, if it's truly your dream, find a way to Los Angeles. Making it as a writer in the industry is dependent on connections and on forming relationships with other artists and creatives. It's hard to upend your life, and it's not for everyone. Writing is hard, and it's scary, and it's even scarier when you're trying to do it while sustaining yourself financially in a new environment where you know hardly anyone (or nobody, as may be the case).

Graduate school provides an immediate sense of belonging and places you within a network of dozens of creative, passionate individuals. It's like having the best and brightest selected for you to befriend and go out into the industry alongside. This, alongside the advisement and unique professional opportunities a graduate degree provides, is sufficient reason for many people to go into momentary debt.

But it's always going to be a difficult challenge and you will always need to be moving forward. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and your first round applying to graduate school is part of that forward movement. Good jobs don't come easily, especially in LA, even with a degree and with experience, much less without either. It's your responsibility to put forth the effort to find those opportunities while advocating for yourself and the stories you tell.
Hey thanks for the reply! Great advice. A lot of what I was trying to say but I was whining about it. My guess was that without a great grad school where things are made slightly easier for you to make it, it would be a very long road of attending and volunteering at festival after festival just awkwardly standing around or trying to poke your head behind the curtain so to speak... and I was hoping there was more of a roadmap than that but probably not.

It was also probably hard to deal with rejection because Id been frozen in my life waiting for it and it just took up so much of my year that I feel depleted and unable to try other avenues. But I know I must.
 

louweaver

Member
hi - i wouldn't say the professional program gave me any sort of 'in', but if you win the screenplay contest (i believe they run it every year) i'm sure that would make some people notice. i also think it gives you a leg up in applying to the UCLA MFA screenwriting program. and they also offer it 'in-person', so if you move to LA, you can do it on-campus, and hopefully meet people there. sorry if i sound like an advertisement for the program - i thought it helped, and it's affordable. best of luck!
 
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