the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Am I Out of My Mind?!

So another semester is at an end and I realize that once again, despite a personal goal to make this blog much more reflective of my grad school experiences (rather than just film news and reviews), I’ve failed miserably. I'm not entirely sure why that is. Perhaps I simply thought that a daily commentary about my school life would be profoundly boring to anyone who stumbles across this site. Perhaps I wasn’t willing to indulge that amount of time and effort. Perhaps I've continued to wrestle with disillusionment since starting grad school and haven't wanted to admit it to myself, much less put it in writing.

It's not as if I've exactly kept it a secret. And while there was really only one class this semester that made my skin crawl and my ears bleed, I still cannot help but feel that this program was nothing like I expected. Come to think of it, I am not exactly sure what I expected. Am I blaming NYU when this is a matter not of misrepresentation but of perception and expectation? If it is, I am not the only sufferer. A non-scientific, informal poll among my class reveals almost categorically that the program has not come remotely close to satisfying our desires and expectations.

We stay now because we have only one semester left. We stay now because our resume will still forever have “NYU: Tisch School of the Arts” on it and that should, all things being equal, be enough to offset any future career issues. (A friend who got her MBA at Harvard once told me that, "you don't go to Harvard for the education. You can get that anywhere. You go to Harvard for the contacts and the resume.")

So theoretical as to have little to no practical use, I yearn for a program that would allow me to study not only the art of filmmaking, but the science as well. I have tried to break away from ridged theory classes only, reaching for screenwriting classes and anything else that might augment my overarching frustrations with the lack of integrated, holistic film education.

And then, last week, Variety announced this! It is perfect…almost exactly what I have been looking for. On the downside, it is three more years and another 100+ grand. On the upside, I leave NYU with an MA, an MFA and an MBA! That, along with the experience and contacts (not to mention the earlier Cinema Studies MA) should make for a bulletproof pedigree.

Am I stupid for even considering it? What do you think?


Blogger Vampire said...

Your experience sounds similar to my own. I was immensely pleased when my program opened itself and added non-theory courses, and if it had been offered when I was applying, I would have eagerly sought out that new dual degree program. As it is, I'll just be spending too much money to be in L.A. working an internship that can, hopefully, gain me a job straight out or the contacts to obtain one.

If I wasn't overly worried about my debt load, I'd probably apply to that program.

4:51 AM  
Blogger Lydia said...

The very same question has been weighing on my mind since I first sent you that link... :(

6:47 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Let's talk soon Lydia!

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...


This has your name written all over it. I think you would get it if you apply!


6:48 AM  
Anonymous Mick said...

This is a new program, so there is no way to know how effective it will be. I know that UCLA has an excellent graduate producing program. It's well established and the school is in LA - where the industry is - and it's much cheaper.

Check it out.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Yeah, but it's in L.A.! (says the snobby, extremely-happy-where-he-is New Yorker!)

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Neal said...

I heard about that program yesterday and I thought the same thing.


8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would advise against more school unless you are uniquely financially prepared for it - and if so I need to borrow some money :)

Seriously, I think interships will do the job and you will have to move to LA at some point I think. That's where the movie biz is unfortunately.

10:06 AM  
Anonymous deon said...

Brandon, I think I would have to agree with robyn. You have the brain to make it doing internships. I that it would be better for you to get out there and test the waters a bit and later you can return to a program that is more suited to what you want, and besides you may write the next big Brodaway hit, and I wiould be there opening night front and center. But in anycase I wish you the best of luck in whatever you may choose.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Cassie said...

Brandon, take it from the girl who's working in the industry with two degrees already, and plans to go back and finish a third. The industry doesn't really give a damn how many degrees you have, or even how great your GPA was, or even if you have the best demo reel since Scorsese. A lot of the most successful people haven't even earned their B.A.s, let alone M.As or M.F.As. The industry wants to see you work and network. Education, as fabulous as it is, is only theory. Without application though, it's worthless. And coming from the Navy, where most of the stuff you learn is on the job training, you should know that the same thing applies in the industry. Because you read something in a book, doesn't make it real. Solving a problem on the job, that makes it real.

You're smart, responsible, driven, you learn quickly and you're talented; the industry is going to love you! Although it may take a while to make your way through the ranks, you are going to move, but if you don't get out of the classroom, you future is going to take that much longer to get to you. Stop being stuck, and move forward! You might be tested in the classroom, but the real test will be on a film set. What are you waiting for? The classroom will still be there in ten years, I promise.

Sorry about the lecture! :) And I do understand where you're coming from because I still feel like there is so much I don't know,but I'm learning quickly.


7:15 PM  
Anonymous nate said...

what cassie said.

6:06 AM  
Anonymous RD said...

I am sure you can strike a deal given the fact you are already a finishing NYU MA student--there may be less courses to take, etc. Then also, you can get financial aid, which should be a help. It reads like what you wanted and what I hoped you'd get up to now--but maybe you now have had a good, solid film studies background, which should make you even more competitive. I think what you have is enough, on the other hand, you like education, are a fine student, and i think not completely ready to dive in to the biz yet--Give this a shot! You'll never know. If you get into the program, think what you can do with these degress when you aren't producing!

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brandon, let me first say how proud I am of you AND your achievements! Everything but blood aside, I believe the best business move you could make at this point could be that program. If you are picked, the financing will happen. You can make good use of your time there to forge a wider business network to kick-start your earning curve.
I believe you are your own best advocate. And you will always have a heart for the "little guy". That is what will bring you fame and fortune!
Unka Carl

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brandon--what Mick, Cassie, and Robyn said is right on the mark, for so many reasons.

Mick's comment about it being a new program is important--throwing that much money at something that is completely untested and will undoubtedly need to be changed/bettered? and that you probably don't even need to get where you want to go? and that will, in all likelihood, leave you with more disappointment (we've high expectations...I know, and I've been disappointed, too, with grad school)?

The advice from those who are already doing what you'd like to do, and are in the network of work and people that you're striving for, sounds completely solid. And as others have will always be there, if you end up with the time, energy, desire, etc. to go back for some more later.

(You will do well in whatever path you choose, so it's not about just that, in the end, either...)

DB : )

1:19 AM  
Anonymous cd said...

Hey Brandon,

I dig the updates.

The question is really whether it
will represent an additional layer
of relationships/opportunities/introductions
to the industry.

The best place to learn is simply as
an intern within a company that is already
doing stuff. Film schools generally mistreat
their students, looking down on you, often
trying to frustrate your opportunities.

This program could be different but....


4:11 AM  

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