One of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make was a choice between two graduate MFA programs.
One was Brooklyn College’s new Feirstein College of Cinema Arts and the other was LIU-Brooklyn’s TV Writing and Producing Program. Obviously, TV is more my thing, but I love studying film and looked forward to taking classes in the various aspects of film production, such as directing and editing. If I chose Brooklyn College, I might be able to get one of my screenplays produced, which would have been awesome. Also, I’d like to be able to have an intelligent conversation about film when I find myself in a room with Katherine Bigelow.
In fact, Brooklyn College has been an institution in my life since I was a kid and I used to go there with my mom, who finished up her teaching degree when I was in grade school. My dad was also an alum, who studied there after being in the air force during the Korean War. I was born in Brooklyn and it’s one of my favorite places on earth. Not that I’ve seen that much of the earth, but you get the point.
On the other hand, I’ve always considered myself a TV writer, and focused my learning in that direction during the six years I’ve been acquiring the screenwriting craft. The program at LIU is under Norman Steinberg, a veteran Hollywood screenwriter who has written many great films and television shows. In his own words, he’s “training Showrunners.” He’s been extremely kind and supportive, making it clear that he wants me for the program and thinks I’m a gifted writer. In my experience, it’s extremely rare to receive that kind of praise from someone who is really in the position to know. Even more flattering, though, has been the time he’s spent with me discussing the program and my goals, and what I could expect to take away. At the end of the day, his kind attention has probably been one of the larger contributors to my final decision to attend LIU.
I still have misgivings, though. The program at Brooklyn College seems much more competitive and prestigious. It’s also a whole lot cheaper. Both schools offered me similar scholarships, and both are situated at Steiner Studios, surrounded by all sorts of exciting productions. Aaargh… what’s a writer to do?
Then there’s the whole “film school” question. I believe the film industry, as we know it, is about to go the route of newspaper journalists and blacksmiths and vanish into history. Of course those skills will be transferable to new media in all it’s cinematic forms, but there’s something sad about studying a dying industry.
Television is changing as well. There’s no doubt of that. To my mind, it’s changing for the better. I very much look forward to the days when everything we watch is paid for through subscriptions and no longer in the control of the advertisers. The programming can only get better when it’s no longer targeting imaginary demographics for their products. Almost everything I watch is on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Premium Cable. I believe that as TV continues to cater to the tastes of the public rather than the advertising dollars, it will only get better, and that will mean more opportunity for women and writers of minority groups. That is better for everyone.
Writing this blog has helped me to confirm that I made the right decision in sticking with LIU Brooklyn. To my peers at Brooklyn College, I wish you all the best in all your future endeavors, and look forward to working with you someday.