What Classes Should I Take?

Natasha writes in:

I’ve been enjoying your blog and I wondered if I could ask you for some advice. I am an aspiring writer living in LA, ideally hoping to write for hour long television dramas. I am currently considering taking classes in television production. I figured it would be a good idea to learn about the production side of things as this would give me some more options (like writing and shooting my own projects, or pursuing production assistant jobs). Also I’m sure a better understanding of the production side would help me to write more effectively for television, especially in the future if I was ever to become a showrunner.

I’ve been looking into the Television Production Certificate at Los Angeles City College. Apparently the classes are mainly focused on multiple camera studio productions. Since I’m really interested in working on single camera television dramas, I’m not sure how relevant this course would be. Is there much overlap in the skills and techniques used in multiple camera television productions and those used in single camera television productions? I am wondering if the skills taught in these classes, as well as experience working on multiple camera productions such as reality shows, would be transferable to working on single camera scripted dramas, or whether they are just too different?

There are plenty of skills that carry over from multicamera to single camera productions. You just won’t learn any of these skills in the classroom.

A lot of parents teach their children how to read and do math well before they’re in kindergarten. The first couple years of school are more-or-less refresher courses for these kids. So why send them to school at all? Socialization.

Twelve years later, you’re once again in the same boat. College, or at least film school, isn’t about learning skills. It’s about about getting out of your parents’ house, meeting people your own age, drinking all night and suddenly realizing you have a paper due in the morning. It’s about learning how to fulfill your responsibilities even though nobody honestly cares if you succeed or fail.

Whatever minimal production skills you learn will be eclipsed by your first day on set. So don’t worry about what classes you’ll take; worry about networking and landing internships and being your own person.

Also, you’re way too youn to worry about where your career will take you. Maybe you’ll like multicam, maybe you’ll hate it, but you’ll have no idea until you do it.

So why not try it?

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2 Responses

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  2. Natasha,

    The only reason I would recommend any sort of film class post-college is because you want to be in physical production and need the practice. I only took one production class in college and the teacher made it a point that college courses for film should strictly be practice: so you can experiment and find out what you’re good and bad at.

    If you want to write but learn the production side (which, by the way, makes you an amazing person already), I say become a background extra! When I’m between PA jobs, I do some extra gigs and I get to see how a big budget features works vs. single cam drama vs. mult-cam, etc. etc. You can learn a lot if you just watch what happens, talk to the background PA and even other extras.

    Also check out Twitter. Jeffrey Lieber (@JeffLieber) does NCIS: NOLA and he tweets about showrunning and you can learn SO MUCH.

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