The Programme Board of Examiners at Napier University in Edinburgh has made its decision about the status of my post-graduate studies, and here's the result: Congratulations, you have successfully completed your programme and the board have recommended the award shown - Master of Arts with Distinction in Screenwriting. All that remains now is the graduation ceremony on November 15th [assuming I'm willing to shell out another £50 to attend]. I could graduate in absentia, but will probably attend. Let's face it, I'm not likely to do another masters, so this is a once in a lifetime thing.
So, do I feel any different? No. Having passed every module with distinction, being awarded a masters with distinction came as no surprise at all. It's nice to get the affirmation, but that's all it is. Nobody's going to pay me anymore for having a masters, at least not in the sort of jobs I currently do. Will have a masters make me any more employable as a screenwriter? Almost certainly not. It demonstrates the fact I've spent time, money and effort to get the piece of paper, but makes no obvious difference to my talent or skills as a writer. I believe the MA has made me a better writer, but the only proof of that is in my script, not in my graduating.
Was it worth the time, money and effort? That's tricky. There are other MA courses that would probably have served me better, but Screen Academy Scotland was closest to home and most convenient. I'm certainly glad I did the masters part-time over two years. The first year I was there was also the first year of the course, and it suffered all manner teething troubles. Many of these were resolved in time for the second year or during it, but most of those changes will benefit future students. It certainly wasn't cheap. I wasn't eligible for bursaries as I was deemed to be Semi-Foreign Scum®, so it cost me £3500 in fees and another £20,000 in expenses and lost earnings.
I could have invested that money elsewhere and gotten much more for it, but the course was a way of motivating myself to go for my goals, strive for my dream, climb every [metaphorical] mountain and all that shit. Without the MA, I'd never have pursued all the other opportunities I've taken in the past two years, like being mentored in TV writing for nine months by Adrian Mead, or all the networking opportunities the course afforded. I doubt I'd have been selected for the TAPS script editing course or the same organisation's continuing drama workshop. I wouldn't have gone on the Script Factory's storylining for continuing drama workshop, either.
Most of all, I wouldn't have learned all I have over the past two years, both inside and outside the course. These two years have made a massive difference to my outlook and left me with a clutch of calling card scripts I'm now using to try and secure representation. I doubt I'll learn nearly as much in the next two years as I have in the last two years - the learning curve can't stay this steep forever - but I'll keep on learning. Keep on searching for new opportunities, new openings, new ways forward. This is not the beginning of the end, it's merely the end of the beginning. There's a long way to go yet. Onwards.