July 25, 2021

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF HOLLYWOOD, INTERRUPTED AND THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Film Flam: The University Film Studies Con.

Tuition did not cover the cost of making a student film. Unable to afford it, Stoteraux switched to writing and entered a script in the program’s screenplay contest. The faculty judges rejected it in the first round. Stoteraux later sold the script through a production assistant he randomly met without any help from the school. Two credits short of his master’s degree, he asked Columbia if he could complete the program while working in LA. The university disdainfully refused — until his career took off, when it invited him to speak to the current class, offering to help him attain his degree. The program chair had him fly to New York for a meeting.

The conclusion of Stoteraux’s story gives away the whole shell game. “So I spent a fortune on a last-minute flight in order to hear his proposal,” he tweeted. “But instead of telling me what I need to do to satisfy the requirements to get my degree, the Chair began pitching me his idea for a TV pilot. In excruciating scene-by-scene detail. I nodded along, waiting to get back to the terms of me getting my degree. But to my horror … I slowly begin to realize this IS the deal … if I wanted my degree, I needed to help him sell his tv pilot. Yep, the Chair of Columbia’s prestigious graduate film program tried to shake me down in order to jump-start his own stalled out career.”

That could be the most valuable lesson to be learned from one’s film school experience — and it’s free.

Read the whole thing.

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