Christina deJong Lantinga asks how one gets started in screen writing or film.
Sadly, there is no easy answer.  People must find their own way.  For some that
means writing, writing, writing.  Even if they must support themselves by
serving food in a restaurant.  Others take the initiative and move to
Hollywood where they will be in competition with thousands and thousands of
others similarly situated.  School is only one choice.  If there is something
that one really hopes to gain from attending a film school.  And the school
will serve that purpose.  Don't go to film school for lack of anything better
to do.
Then one is faced with the matter of which school?  That's a longer story than
I'll try to tell now.
The key decision point, it seems to me, is what are you willing to give up for
your ambition?  And what is your ambition in the first place?  Stating the
question as Christina stated it, does not help much.  With my nine month old
bachelor's degree in English, "how does one get started in screenwriting ...
or in film for that matter?"
I must ask: What is your ambition?  To tell stories?  As a writer?
As a director?  To get rich and famous?
If writing is the ambition, then write.  Don't get stuck on one story.  Write
one script, then another, then another.  Then bother anyone who will listen
about your material.  There are screen-play contests announced regularly,
enter a script.  There are other people similarly situated who want to direct
but can't write.  Maybe one of them (or more than one of them) might be able to
take one of your scripts and do something to get it produced.  There are also
people just starting out whose main talent is hustling, the basic skill of a
producer.  Maybe one of them can do you some good.
If directing is the goal, then direct when ever, where ever.  Amateur theatre,
scouts, summer camp . . . .  And if you do not have an assignment, then
develop plans on how you would direct a project if only . . .
Sometimes these dreams come true, but one can learn from the work.
The truly sad thing about most show business, but especially film these days,
is that one has to concentrate on their ambition to the exclusion of almost
everything else.
If this sounds mean and unfeeling, it is intended to.  My comments are mild
compared to what you face trying to make you way in the film business.
If anything I say can dissuade someone, then they are poor candidates for
making it.
Cal Pryluck                               <PRYLUCK@TEMPLEVM>
Dept of Radio-Television-Film             <[log in to unmask]>
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA 19122