Television Writing and Producing MFA/Graduate School Pros and Cons

I’ve been thinking a lot about my grad school program, since I graduated last month. Over the course of the two-year MFA, I had many doubts about whether the program was going to help me launch a career in the entertainment industry. It was a lot of debt to take on, and I honestly never felt it made me a better writer, although I guess just putting in the hours at the keyboard does that. However, over the last few months, a lot has happened that laid some of my fears to rest.

First, I started earning money as a writer. Not a lot of money, but I’m finding steady work and it’s helping me quite a bit. I’m applying for jobs through online avenues. I only apply for jobs I know I’m qualified for and that I’ll enjoy doing, so I get a lot of the ones I submit proposals for. Because I choose carefully, I’m able to complete my jobs quickly and well, and a get a high rating so I can get more jobs. I knew I’d have to work for lower wages in the beginning, but it’s already gotten better. You can find some articles on “Best of Netflix” written by me at the website https://www.techjunkie.com/best-crime-dramas-netflix/. After a lifetime of being a writer, it’s nice to finally get paid in money!

Another thing that’s changed my outlook is that I spent the spring working as an intern for a PBS Documentarian on a piece that I’m proud to get involved with. I won’t give the details yet, but it’s a topic that has the potential to shed light on some serious injustice to women, which is a cause I’m behind 100%.

The fourth occurrence that has caused me to reconsider the value of my MFA was that my portfolio is in much better shape as a whole. I have a new pilot in the works, a new spec script for The Americans, and last summer, I completed a web series documentary pilot which is the first thing I’ve ever actually shot and edited.

I plan to revise it at some point and perhaps continue the series. I want to change up the music, make it less frenetic and more thoughtful in pace, and maybe even add some original artwork. I’ve already blogged about my (kick-ass, IMHO) video essay, Triumphs in Queer TV.

My husband, Bobby, worked as an extra. That’s him on the right

The fifth and possibly most important occurrence was the film production I took part in earlier this month. My class wrote a pilot script together, and we cut it down to a sizzle reel of 19 pages, for which we hired a real director, Don Wells. The head of the media arts department, Larry Banks, is a DP, and evidently, he’s quite the artiste. Together, we cast SAG actors and hired PAs and pros to round out the crew. Everyone in my class was assigned a role on the production in keeping with their individual talents. I was Script/Continuity Supervisor, so I got to sit next to the director and see the footage as it was recorded and it was thrilling. We worked very long hours and shot it in five days. Everyone said they felt sorry for me because Scripty was such a difficult job and no one wanted it. I loved it! I found it suited my talents and I had a lot of help from the director and my writing teacher. I admit it was a lot of work, but I was good at it and I thoroughly loved being at the director’s elbow through the entire shoot. I’m happy to know there’s another on-set position I can do well.

To sum up, I suppose I’ve decided my MFA has been time well spent. My

Yours truly at work as Scripty

expanding portfolio, my growing experience level and my on-set experience has been very valuable to me. Hopefully, I’ll have some actual industry work (TV Staff Writer would be nice) by the time my student loans come due. To maximize my opportunities, I moved to Los Angeles right after graduation. Now for the litmus test!

I’d love to hear what you’re up to. Keep Writing!

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karenlovestv

I'm a recent graduate with an MFA in Writing and Producing Television. I'm also a mom with two kids and a hubby, a feminist and equal rights advocate. Lately, I've been obsessed with minimalism and I'm addicted to self-improvement