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How does one get started in screenwriting... or in film for that matter?  I'd
like some input as to what would be some good possible steps for me to take.
Presently I work for a film and video production house in Grand Rapids, MI
as a production coordinator (or something like that... I aid three producers,
and, when I have spare time from production, the sales rep.).  We make mainly
industrial and corporate film and video, and a few spots every year.  I've been
there for about a year and half, and I graduated with a B.A. in English about 9
months ago (yes, my last year of college was hellishly spent going to school
full time and working between 25 and 40 hours a week for this film and video
production house).  I happily took the job because "at least it was something
in my field."  However, the type of stuff we do is far removed from the kind
of films I want to make (ideally, write and direct -- ha,ha) so I'm wondering
what my next step should be.  Is film school really all that helpful?  I don't
want to spend a lot of money on an education that's somewhat redundant (esp.
when I haven't any money to spend).  I've learned enough about what goes into
making a film via my present work and work I've done in Toronto during the
summers that I think I could start out without a film school education.
But I may be fooling myself.
 
At the moment I am working on a screenplay that deals in part with racist
and sexist attitudes.  It was inspired by the town I live in right now (as
I mentioned before, Grand Rapids, MI) where I find racism quite intense.  I
spent some time developing the idea in London, England (where I just happened
to be for my other studies) and found the people there much more encouraging
and positive.  In the states my ideas seem to be met by so many pragmatists...
perhaps simply because the market is a lot more competitve here.  I'm tempted
to move back to England for a while... perhaps try a film school there.  On
the other had, because of the kinds of issues I'm dealing with in this screen
play and because they'll probably be issues I'll continue to deal with in
future screenplays, I was wondering if it would be more advantageous for me to
get a masters, say, in American Studies.  I visited the University of Iowa
last fall and was quite impressed by their Masters program... and the apparent
 flexiblity of said program.
 
Or should I simply keep working during the day and writing in the evenings in
the hopes of being able to, at some point, strike out on my own and make the
kinds of films I really want to make?
 
Feed back please!  (Why do I sense that there are so many people out there
who are in a similar predicament... and what an awful economy to be in to be in
this kind of a predicament.  Right now I'm just tempted to stay in a place
and a position where I can make enough money to make my monthly student loan
payments.
 
Thanks.  Christina deJong Lantinga
 
p.s.  Has anyone out there seen a film called "An Angel at My Table" (directed
by Jane Campion)?  If so, I'd love to talk to you about it, as it made rather  a
 deep impression on me.