Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Student Daze

So, after twenty years working with words for a living, I have became a student once more. Three weeks ago I matriculated at Edinburgh's Napier University as a part-time student on the new MA Screenwriting course. Last time I was a student, it was a six-month journalism diploma at ATI in New Zealand. (It's so long since then, ATI is now known as the Auckland University of Technology, but I digress...) Now I'm trying to cope with set texts, reading lists longer than my arm and interacted with 30 fellow students. Life as a self-employed freelancer doesn't prepare you for this. I spend most of my days alone in a room with a computer and my imagination for company.

The course has a weird three-way dynamic going on. For a start, being part-time means I only spend one day at week at college, where as the full-timers have two days a week at Napier. That immediately distances and, to some extent, disenfranchises us part-timers from the rest of the students. A further complication is the fact the course mixes Scrrenwriting students with Screen Producers. There's a fair degree of crossover between the two streams, but again it's a them and us situation. At least in that case it's probably a reflection of the real world divide between scibes and moguls.

Matriculation Day was a Kafka-esque torture involving long hours of waiting, then being lectured on website issues while being starved. Week One was a get to know you thing for everyone, with the course leaders oing their best to scare everyone with the workload ceiling. Week Two was last Thursday for me, and we spent (or wasted, depending on your POV) 45 minutes on computer problems that still haven't been resolved. Then we did a writing exercise that was supposed to introduce us to how a premise works. In fact this because a five-minute fact-ramming lesson at the end of the morning. That wasn't the course leader's fault, but it didn't work that well either. In the afternoon we had several hours with Scotland's leading entertainment lawyer. I was fascinated by his insights, but the student next to me fell asleep. Each to their own.

I'm not sure how committed I am to this course yet. I've been trying to do reading outside class, but deadline pressures and external activites are fighting for my time. I guess the crunch will come when my first assignment's due in a fortnight.

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