So it turns out my UCLA Extension TV Writing class started last Sunday, not Wednesday as per the course description, and my first assignment is due tonight. Plus there might be a problem with the show I wanted to spec because it's in its first season, so I'm waiting for feedback from the instructor as to whether or not I need to pick another show. Either way I'm starting off in a hole, which is not how I saw this happening. Gonna have a lot of catching up to do.
Finally got a "response" this morning (after posting at 12:40 yesterday afternoon), sort of. So now the class starts on Saturday. By response I mean we were informed that new lessons post on Saturday, and those of us who haven't gotten to the first assignment need to get on it, because if we get behind we have the stress of trying to catch up, yadda yadda yadda. No shit, I already knew that thanks to lack of communication from UCLA Extension that I'm starting in a hole. And still no answer to my actual questions. Also I posted a document for feedback last night and it's still not showing up on the discussion board, although the sidebar acknowledges that it's been submitted. I'm beginning to wonder if signing up for this program was a mistake, and given how lackadasial it's been so far (only week 1) I have to wonder how respected this program really is in the entertainment industry. I have until the 24th to get my money back on this class, and I still have to eat the $200 application fee. I hate to be thinking of quitting but based on my experience so far I'm just not impressed. Really, really frustrated.
Well, the good news is I finally got a response. The bad news is I'm apparently not allowed to spec the show I planned on for the past four months since I applied to this program and have to scramble to familiarize myself with a new show enough to write a decent script for it, all while catching up on week 1 and a new assignment will be posted today. Not what I expected, plus some of my classmates are apparently being allowed to spec questionable shows, including one which will be ending this year. Really disillusioned. Wondering if I should just stick to contests.
Reread this morning's email from the instructor (which should have been sent to us a week ago) and not only are we just now being informed that new lessons post on Saturday (and not Wednesday per the course description) but she only checks the stuff we post online Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Not even daily. I'm really concerned about what I've gotten myself into.
Or I could drop this class and wait until late spring/summer and see if the show gets renewed...
OK, that's been dealt with. Picking a more acceptable show and writing the script I want to out of class using the class materials. Bingeing Better Call Saul has commenced. No idea for a script though. Also still doesn't change the fact that I should have been dealing with this almost a week ago if the school had bothered to let me know the class was live days early. Being in the hole so early on is going to kill my grade, plus the next class assignment posts tonight so I have to deal with that too. Not an auspicious start.
So I submitted a show bible for Better Call Saul (great show, zero interest in writing it) which is a no-brainer because our bibles are just cut and paste from online sites. Oh, and also because - since I've never watched the show - I can catch up on it relatively quickly because Netflix is streaming Season 1, has Season 2 on DVD, and each season is only ten episodes. What I don't have is the faintest idea for an episode, which was also supposed to be submitted last Friday night.
This morning I check my email and see this:
This is a GREAT show to spec! As you have already noticed, one of your peers is writing for the same show. She really knows this show and will be able to give you solid feedback.
No, I hadn't noticed that, but if she really knows this show, she'll be able to tell that I don't. What I have noticed is that one of my "peers" is speccing Orphan Black, a show that has already announced that its upcoming season will be its last. In addition to the "no freshman shows" rule, we were also told not to spec cancelled shows. My freshman show at least has a shot at being around this time next year. And if that student gets a pass to spec a show that's ending, I don't see why I shouldn't get a pass on speccing a new show. Unless the instructor doesn't know Orphan Black is ending, which sends up a whole new red flag. Plus, I've been told in the past that you shouldn't spec old shows (pretty much anything that's beyond Season 5 or so) for a variety of reasons, and I've got classmates speccing Supernatural and Grey's Anatomy, both of which are ancient.
I'm probably already looking at a B at most or even a C in this class if I don't magically pull something out of my ass in the next five days and get caught up, and I can't accept that. I'm not a C student. I understand that we're being taught to hit deadlines, but if I was already at that level I wouldn't be taking a beginning writing class nor would I be worried about getting a certificate, because I'd be too busy actually working. And again, if I'd been notified that the class started the previous weekend, I could have been dealing with all this prior to the deadline, all last week could have been spent on this, rather than me logging into my UCLA Extension account and only seeing a link to the class description, and not a link to the actual class itself. One more gripe? In the first lesson the material uses shows that are off the air as examples of specs. Royal Pains? Psych (which was misspelled Psyche)? Great shows, but gone. They couldn't even be bothered to update the material?
And then there's this: for ninety bucks I can take a TV writing class from Shonda Rhimes at MasterClass.com. I've taken courses through them before and they're exceptionally well done.
I have two more days in which I can withdraw and get my tuition refunded. I have a history of starting things and then not finishing them, so I hate to feel like I'm doing it yet again. I hate that I probably sound whiny, but I'm just so disappointed and don't feel supported at all. There's also the option of taking this class again next quarter and I'll be better prepared for what to expect. In fact, it could mean the difference between at least having a chance to get an A in the class and having no chance at all. And maybe I'll bite the bullet on dealing with traffic and parking and take the class on campus instead of online, so I can feel like I'm actually communicating with my instructor.
In the meantime I could take Shonda's course, write the script I want to write, and put it in contests. And to be honest, I just looked at the second week's assignment and and except for the inflexibility on writing a new show, so far I haven't learned anything I didn't already know coming into this class.
I'm also just really tired of getting excited about things and then being disappointed. Remember this?