Me, a lad raised on a council estate by a low income family. Me, a man who has worked factory and hotel jobs for 15 years. Me, who did not return to education until 26 years of age. Me, who had zero experience of film or screenwriting before 2013. Me, I graduated in 2016 with Joint 1st Class honours - Screenwriting, and Drama & Performance. I decided to continue my learning journey and go for a Masters Degree in Screenwriting.
I decided to try my luck and sent applications to film schools far above my social status and class. I sent an application to a very well known and respected Film School in London. I was astonished to be told I would be offered a place, me!
Then things got weird....
I have had an email from them stating that the course is £13,800. Student Loan gives you £10,000 and If I work my ass off I could get the extra couple of grand, so this was doable. I ask them about the contact hours of the course as I will need to work to afford living costs. They responded and advised that students use the £10k from Student Finance to pay living costs and find the £13.8k course fee themselves. I agree there is nothing wrong with that advice, but I have some concerns.
I email back and explain that sadly I do not have that kind of cash but am used to living on the cheap so can figure things out if I can get an estimate of contact time. I explain that I will find £3.8k myself and add that to the 10k Student Finance. Then I will work outside of the Masters to find living costs. I ask could they please estimate the contact hours so that I can figure out how much time I have free to work a job.
They reply again advising that students use the Student Finance loan of £10k to pay living costs and that students find the course fee of £13,800 themselves. I respond again. I say; I earn the minimum wage of £7.50 an hour. If I work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, and don't pay rent or eat then I can pay the course in full in 26.3 weeks. This date would be the 7th of November. Your course starts mid September, could we reach a compromise.
Students are advised to use the Student Finance loan of £10k to pay living costs and that students find the course fee of £13,800 themselves.
I sense a pattern here!!
How are people on a lower wage expected to afford this?,.. especially when you have just graduated University. I have already turned my back on Acting due to most agents sounding shocked when you state you did not attend Drama School! I refuse to further damage my future because I was not born with money or rich parents.
I had to settle for an online part time course, thankfully it has proved to be an extremely comprehensive and valuable course. I just think it is a shame that such an institute could be so unaccommodating to working class students!
So I guess that I keep fighting to mix with the big guns of the industry from my seat on the checkout counter, saving my money until I can afford the next step.
Sad but true.
To all young people out there, value your education!