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I Want to Be a TV Writer -- Is Film School For Me?

There are no college requirements for working in entertainment.

Whether you're in production, costumes, props, or you're a TV writer or feature film screenwriter, nobody is going to care if you have your Bachelor's or Master's, or GED.

All they care about is, are you going to complete the job they asked you to do...

So, that answers the question, "do I have to go to film school?" Obviously, the answer's no.

But should you?

There are certain major pros to going to a film or TV or screenwriting program before making a go of it in the TV world.

But those pros might not be so obvious.

The biggest plus is going to be...

Your network will mean everything when you're a TV writer

The word "network" has the wrong connotation. It sounds very business-y, like something you do at a sales conference in Des Moines.

But it really is just the people you know.

And going to a school to study and being in a college or course with tons of other people who want to do exactly what you do is the best way to build a network.

These are folks who are starting from the bottom up just like you are. And they will grow and pull each other up as they go along.

There are so many intricate alumni networks built into the TV writing world - maybe most notable among them, Harvard and Emerson - that started with a few people from one or two years of school, and then extended on from there.

I went to Syracuse, which has a huge alumni presence in Los Angeles, mostly in anything other than TV writing.

Still, there are plenty of people in the industry who went to Syracuse. Even if I didn't know them personally, there is common ground that makes it much easier to make a connection.

Your alumni network can be hugely helpful

Most film schools, communications schools and screenwriting programs have people who have graduated who are now working in the industry.

And often those people will stay connected to their school in the form of an alumni association.

These alumni are often open to mentorship roles or even just to chat to up-and-comers who are pursuing the same paths they did.

Even if your school doesn't have a communications program, they may have notable alumni who are doing what you want to do.

This is obviously a form of networking, so it goes hand in hand with my prior point, but it's another huge plus to attending a school.

School can teach you craft

Depending on what school you go to, you may be able to get your feet wet in terms of whatever craft you're looking to pursue.

Even for TV writing, more and more, colleges are offering courses in this field. TV writing is being taken almost as seriously as feature screenwriting. Almost.

However, particularly with TV writing, your skill will increase the more you write, whether you're learning about it in class or not.

And there will be so much more to learn once you make it to a TV writers' room.

That being said, it will give you a great base to start from. If you do leave school and move out to LA, you will probably have a TV pilot under your belt. You won't be starting from nothing.

It also may be helpful for teaching you what you don't want to do.

Maybe you've had in mind that you'd love to write the next great TV series. Then you take your first TV writing class and you absolutely hate it.

Better to know this now than five years down the line once you've committed your life to it.


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I'm Anton, a TV writer and author of Breaking Into TV Writing, a book about the business of TV writing and how to get your foot in the door.


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