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.


Writing, job-hunting and other fun stuff

After updating my LinkedIn profile, I’m not feeling at all impressive, but have to find a job and keep moving forward. My husband was down-sized and we are in need of whatever contribution I can make.  So, what do you do when your skills are vast and your experience is small? Temp.

In the past I’ve had no luck finding or infiltrating the temp agencies that cater to the industry, emphasis on TV. If I’m ever going to have a career in television, however, I need to work on a show so I can start the process of networking my way into that writer’s assistant position and eventually get hired on staff. The most important part of the equation is to keep writing while looking, while working, while all of life is passing me by.

The great news is, I know how to do that. I have a daily writing practice that has transcended the difficulties of life for several years now. If the only time I have to write is from 4 – 6 am,  then that’s what I’ll do. A long as that part of my life is moving forward, I have self-esteem and purpose.

Someone should really hire me. I’m a great catch.

Opening Credit Sequences: the Most Annoying Thing on Television

Does anyone think credit sequences are still a good idea? Someone must, because most of the shows I watch have them. Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, Orphan Black and Outlander to name four. They are all good shows, but the opening sequences are annoying enough that I have to DVR  my favorite shows so that I can FF through them.  Which, for the network, means that I am not sitting through the advertisements and for the most part don’t get to read the credits. Instead, if I want to know, I look it up on IMDB.

Even on Premium Cable on Demand, the shows open with advertisements for the channel and for other shows they want you to watch. Since they don’t have the time constraints of the networks that are run by the advertisers, these are the channels where you find the longest and most horrific, nails-on-the-blackboard opening sequences. Granted, they are beautifully shot, and extremely interesting once or twice. They may even be put to decent music, although that’s pretty rare. After that, they become redundant and terrible.

Kudos to Leah Dunham (my personal hero) for the single Frame depicting the word GIRLS in brilliant colors. It definitively tells you what you are watching, then disappears. No music, no credits, no bullshit.

In this one area, the premium channels could learn a lot from the traditional Networks. There you are most likely to see the credits rolling over the action, where I love to read them. The opening is mainly a recap of last week’s episode, and the name of the show, with some cute little graphic. The CW is great at that, with the drop of blood dripping off the V in The Vampire Diaries, or the SFX they change each season to suit the story line of Supernatural (still going strong after how many seasons?).

HBO is a great network for series, but has come under attack lately for their lack of racial diversity, which is a real problem across the television board. Don’t even get me started on the ageism and sexism. But this is something so easy to fix, that would make their shows that much more enjoyable. And without the credits sequence, I’m happy to sit through the ads surrounding GOT, and there’s no need to DVR. Get with the program, guys.

Worst credit sequences ever? In my opinion, GOT, True Blood,  and Masters of Sex. It’s like my darling husband, still using the same jokes 20 years later.  Enough, already.

Got an opinion? I’d love to hear it.

Television writing, watching and making