Saturday, January 14, 2012


Michigan's screenwriting program is a hidden gem of the Midwest. I myself would not have known about it if I didn't have friends who already attended Michigan. When I was considering film schools, Michigan came out comparable to NYU and UCLA (at least in regards to screenwriting. Michigan, from what little I experienced as a short on time transfer student, has a great production department as well, and one of my Michigan professors always talked about how Michigan was so much better than his alma mater, USC).

And then the kicker -- Michigan, unlike most of the other schools I was considering, took midyear transfers. Sold and enrolled.

I promise the commercial for Michigan is almost over, but first let me explain the structure of the feature writing classes. Screenwriting I is open to everyone. You are taught structure and format and you write your first script. HALF of you are invited into Screenwriting II. Screenwriting II is a unique class where you're taught to rewrite. You come out with a new draft of your Screenwriting I script. Half of THOSE students are invited into Screenwriting III, a master workshopping class where you write a new script under the mentorship of head of the program. (Side note: I went through all three classes, which makes me feel pretty good about myself. Some people I know when through all three classes and won huge cash awards, which helps me keep my ego in check.)

In a week and a half, V. and I will be presenting Consideration to the Screenwriting II class. Their homework is to take the script, read it, and come back the next weeks with notes. At which point I will sit down at the table, pull out my laptop, and record the tidal wave of notes. Then our homework is to come back the next week to show how we incorporated the notes into our script. It's supposed to get their head in the game for rewriting (which can be a bit of a shock, the first time you're expected to do more than just edit) and it's supposed to give us an opportunity to get input on the script.

I am a little bit nervous about this. One, I know what kind of egos will be a room of 12 screenwriting students who just got into an invitation only class. I know, because I had one of them. Two, because I'm just nervous about showing Consideration to anyone yet.

Maybe that's because I'm not even through the second draft yet, I don't know. But I only wrote one new script since graduation (I was also rewriting other scripts and writing lots of first acts), and I didn't show anyone that until I had written three drafts. And I was going to wait until draft four, but I decided to send it to a friend with my intended changes to see what she thought. That's it.

So to hand off a baby script to a dozen over zealous college students makes me a little nervous. I have a pretty thick skin, but V. has been very patient and maybe I've gotten soft and -- sensitive.

But what really makes me nervous is not the screenwriting students. The head of the screenwriting department teaches that class, so he'll read this draft too. It's the first work of mine that he'll have read in three years. I desperately want to have improved. I'm totally not looking for validation or anything.

I would have liked to wait until draft 3 to show anyone anything, I really would have. But that's not the case, and I am grateful for this opportunity anyway. I'm sure a room of screenwriting students is not unlike a room of executives, so it'll be good practice for getting studio notes in the future. Because I do expect to get a lot of those.

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