Well, today I got a call from one of the advisors from the Vancouver Film School (basically where I'd like to be going after I graduate) and I was able to ask him lots of questions about how to get started applying there.
Which I apparently should, like, RIGHT NOW, even though I'm not planning on going until 2009 (I'm taking a year off work full-time to earn the tuition). Besides which, they get hundreds of applications a year but take on only thirty students per class (and there are three writing classes a year), so, yeah, it's competitive. But what was I expecting, really?
Some interesting things of note - the admissions process requires two references, and while at first I thought it was for writing, the advisor said no. My one-page film synopsis and writing samples would prove I was a writer, and yes, my published novella WOULD be a big draw on my application, but the references are actually supposed to be character references! Apparently, VFS is seen as an art school (although the advisor said that "art trade school" would be a more accurate description), so they've received lots of applications from people who are, shall we say, a little more "artistic" and off-the-wall than others. So the character references are just to make sure the students they pick will be willing to buckle down and work hard and are motivated about the entire process, not just the art side of it.
And while the tuition is high, a good chunk of it gets paid after I'm accepted, and the rest the month before I enter, so if I applied now, I could get 30% of it out of the way, and still have time to save up the other 70% in the next year. Still, though, it's going to be tough because I have to factor in living expenses, and I have to present a financial plan on my application - because everything's paid up front, the advisors at the school want to make sure the students are able to take care of themselves and won't be eating ramen while sleeping in a cardboard box while writing their screenplays.
It also happens that 2009 is the year my parents are going to have their Europe vacation - which means they won't be able to support me (physically and financially) as much as I'd hoped. Oh well - if I have to take out student loans, I will. But this means NO MORE SPENDING MONEY. Seriously. Save, save, save. I'll be a freakin' miser - that doesn't mean I won't spend anything, but I'll plan ahead the fun stuff I want to do over the summer so that it'll cost as little as possible.
It also means no more buying books, but that's won't be hard - I won a contest over at Dionne Galace's blog and I have three books coming in the mail for absolutely free!
And I still have that check from Cicada that hasn't come in yet.
BUT - I shouldn't worry too much. The advisor told me to be confident - he said that everyone applying to the school would be a good writer, so what I need to have to be accepted is the drive to be a screenwriter and a passion for film. He said that my educational background, my publications, my experience in journalism, and the motivation I'd displayed on the phone gave me a pretty good chance. So I'm thinking positive.