Friday, May 2, 2008

More questions than answers

A few questions from reader Adam:

I was wondering if you could put write a post about your Extension course experience. I've wanted to take one of their courses for a while now, but they're so expensive. I'd be curious to hear what you thought, you felt you got out of it. If you're learning a lot, or if it's mainly about the networking. If it's worth the cost, etc.

Also, if you care to shed more light on the shine of the Dollhouse pilot script, that'd be awesome.
(Note: the above image is not an actual photograph of my class at UCLA, merely a dramatization.)

I have posted quite a bit on my Extension experiences, although not always directly. However, having said that, here's a direct one. I've also referenced what I've learned in everything from the ongoing Chuck posts about breaking the story for our spec to my review of Babylon 5 season one.

What I don't want to do is give a specific course syllabus or do a week-by-week review of what I'm learning. First off, I think that's kind of cheating UCLA, those who pay for the class and the instructor. Second...I know people at UCLA read this (hi, UCLA people!) so even if I did want to do those things it doesn't seem wise.

But here's what I will say: For Jul and I, taking the courses has thus far very much been worth the money.

Part of it is that, yes, we have made contacts. We're being taught by professional movie and television writers and most of our classmates are in the industry in one way or another. In short, you could do worse for meeting people.

Another part is that we are being forced to write in a structured environment and should have two finished, vetted and (theoretically) good specs ready to send out in a few months. If you're a person who needs this kind of structured environment, it can be quite helpful.

Yet another bonus is that you are getting ongoing notes from the instructor, who as mentioned above is a professional feature or television writer. As with all notes, it's your job as the writer to process them and decide for yourself what works and what doesn't, but how many people get largely unfettered access to a professional writer who is willing and ready to help you? I work with writers and they're great guys, but also fantastically busy. There's often just no good time to ask them for anything.

But even beyond these benefits, Jul and I actually learn stuff. Kind of cool in a class, no? As a writing team that's worked together for a few years now and churned out several specs and a pilot, we're not new to the TV writing game. And (shameless plug), since we've done moderately well in a few contests, I at least feel confident in saying that we don't suck, and more or less know what we're doing. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover that we had quite a bit to learn about the step-by-step process of outlining that was the focus of our last course. Some of the things we went over in class Jul and I were already doing, but several were new to us. And for all of them, it was valuable to learn the system of a professional writer who has worked on shows. I'm sure that our current course where we're finally writing the actual scripts will be just as valuable, and probably in ways that I don't expect.

Now, as for Dollhouse...if you want a standard (very good) review, you could do worse than popping over and reading Michael's reaction on Red Right Hand. If you're looking for something a little more spoiler-y, stay tuned. Sometime soon I'll have something interesting for you...

1 comment:

adam _______________________ said...

Thanks Josh. That was helpful. I was just on the fence as far these the extension classes go. Have been for a while. Thanks for the nudge.