My last first day of undergraduate classes starts tomorrow. And up until about forty-five minutes ago, I would have told you that I was actually looking forward to it, that I'm even a little bit excited for my classes. It's past that time now, and everyone else has gone to bed, even my slightly sniffly roommate, which is a huge disappointment. Because I was going to stand on her swively desk chair to get eye level with her on her loft bed and unload my sudden change of feelings onto her. Here's the problem:
I seriously feel sick, and I think I stopped breathing for a minute while I was brushing my teeth.
Not in an "I'm actually feeling ill" sort of way. More in a "I just realized my imminent death is approaching" sort of way. Because here's the thing about a film degree. Sooner or later, you realized that you're qualified to do --
My roommate and I watched The Nines tonight (we really enjoyed it, Mr. August, and I hope to be able to expound on it more thoughtfully when the possibility that my head is going to explode passes). Mr. August's blog is one that I check fairly frequently, so I decided to do a little post-viewing research about The Nines. Poking around his blog led me to this post about a young grad who went to LA to make his mark on the world. He gets around making contacts, PAing, and writing what he hopes to be his directorial debut. This is all great, this is all wonderful, this is what we, as young film grads, expect out of the world. Until it hits me, once again, that I am qualified to do --
Adam Davis wrote and directed several shorts while at college, had John-freaking-August as a recommended contact, and had plenty of experience to flesh out his resume. And for all his hard work, he gets very short term PA jobs for indies and shorts. Yes I know we all have to pay our dues and yes I know that clearly some how it's paying for the rent and yes I know that those jobs will lead to bigger things. That's not why I'm panicked. I'm panicked because Adam did a lot before he graduated. He was experienced. I have done nothing. Okay, so this is not entirely true. I have PAed, I have written and directed my own (video *gasp/shudder*) short, I'm coproducing a film. But to be honest, because of my short time at my second uni and my pursuit of screenwriting, I have basically zero technical knowledge. Who is going to hire me to be a PA if my only credits are a two day PA gig for a student film and a coproducing byline? They could probably pick up someone from Circuit City who has just as much technical knowledge as I do!
Perhaps this wouldn't concern me so much. Perhaps I wouldn't feel so sick. I have been talking recently about how I feel that I've received such a good education as far as my writing is concerned that I'm not even sure I need an industry day job while I'm practicing and writing and rewriting, waiting for my big break. However, now that I'm in the master class, now that I've gotten an email from my first screenwriting professor about my class standing (which was p-r-e-t-t-y good, apparently), I am petrified. I have never been at the top of the game. I have always been second best or second choice. Top ten material but never first place. I don't know how I got here or what to do next or how to even stay here. That's part of the terror of creating, I think. We never really know how good it's going to be until we make it, and we're never really certain if we'll be able to do it again. Even if I do have some shred of talent that will eventually turn into a writing career for me, what am I going to do while I'm still working on getting there? There is no way I'm going to have a marketable script before I graduate. What do I do in the meantime?
It's the graduation panics. It makes my stomach feel three times smaller, my breath come in short shallow spurts, and my eyes roll up toward the back of my head. It's the question of how am I supposed to survive after my last class is over? What am I going to do? How am I not going to starve? Who's going to hire me? And how can I fool them for as long as possible until they realize they've made a mistake and hire the blithering fool they mistook for a real film graduate? What happened to that large 3-person box from camp I planned to live in?
It's in moments like these that I wish I would have chosen a sensible major, one that actually qualified me to do things, that I could have gained quantitative knowledge from. Or at least a shred of confidence.
Please excuse me while I go curl up into a fetal ball.