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Hi everybody,

Just another thread on orientation. But every single one is person-specific, isn't it? I just got an email from my uni saying they had a new course starting in September, an MA in Film. I just left Edinburgh because I thought it was time for me to go out there and make myself a name. I'm just not sure people in the industry would want me anyway, and following is why.

I was studying multimedia when I found out I wanted to do film sound. I just graduated with a BSc Digital Media that I did in two years, got capped on some modules and got a 2:2, a lower one. I did an Honours Project on re-recording/postprod tehcniques, learned a lot, but I don't have a degree that shouts it out.

Now, going back there for me is going to be between hard and hardly possible, financially especially, not that my parents are short on money, just that I resent on asking for it anymore. But that's my problem that I'll overcome if getting into this MA is a valuable thing to do. Finally, my question: should I restore my reputation by taking this course and shining at it? Or should I just shine on my own, invest a fraction of the money in books and look for professional experience?

Thanks for all the help you'll be able to give me!

EDIT: would a MA in Film be of better value than a placement? Can I even get such a thing as a placement knowing I'm not coming from a film school?

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That's a tough decision to make. I was in a similar situation very recently. It may not be much help, but I thought I'd share anyway.

I was looking at getting my MA in Sound Design from SCAD about 8 or 9 months ago. I liked this idea since it would look sweet on my résumé, plus my years in the Air Force meant the US military would foot the entire cost of tuition and then some. As good as it looked, I opted instead to move the family out to Hollywood, start looking for sound gigs, and take some audio engineer classes, all out of my own (nearly empty) pocket.

While there were several reasons for making this decision, one of the biggest was, while a résumé with yet another degree would look good for some employers, it turns out that having some decent titles on IMDB carries a bit more weight here. I get told over and over here, "It's not what you know, it's who you know". While I tend to disagree, I think it's valid to say that formal education can often be trumped by experience and having friends in the right places. Like I said, it may not help (I mean, I did end up going to school out here anyway). Best of luck to you.

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There's three key factors I identify in learning; being taught the theory, practicing and getting feedback. I still do need theory, but I'm good at learning on my own and finding the right books should do the trick for me. Practicing I can do too. As far as feedback goes, forums substitute quite well to that... I guess... I hope. I made the mistake last year of staying abroad while I could have spent my rent on books, I probably don't want to do that one again. Work hard and hope for the best! –  Justin Huss Jul 23 '10 at 6:40
    
Right on with your three-legged learning animal. If only apprenticeships were around like (I've been told) they used to be. Not being a coffee runner, but someone's shadow. Having a mentor in this field would be invaluable for feedback, theory, and practice. 'Til then, keep up the good work. Cheers! –  Matt Cavanaugh Jul 23 '10 at 7:00
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Interesting conundrum. I've got one question that may help you decide: How many other media students did you get to know working on your BSc?

I went the MA route, but that was because my background was primarily in live sound up to that point (and my undergraduate work was in Anthropology and History...lol). The biggest thing I got out of the master's program was some contacts that lead to my first few major freelance gigs. Don't get me wrong, my professors pushed me in some interesting directions, and I would be lying if I said I didn't get anything out of it. They changed my philosophy and approach, but I think I would have eventually stumbled myself along that path anyways. The contacts, all other students I had worked with, were what got me "paying" work though. At least, they paid enough that I was able to survive for the time being......barely. lol

Another possibility for you, if you have a master's there's always the chance you could teach as well. You'll need at least that level degree to do it. I've done that in the past myself. Admittedly, not my chosen career path, but you do what you've got to to pay the bills when you're poor. ;)

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Thanks Shaun, I'm glad to know where you're coming from and I can absolutely relate to it! The teaching thing is a plus, I'd enjoy doing that too... –  Justin Huss Jul 22 '10 at 11:45
    
No problem. Overall, it was a great experience for me, it's just left me debt. haha. Thankfully I've never been too strapped to continue paying off the student loans, but it's stretched over a fairly long period. –  Shaun Farley Jul 22 '10 at 11:48
    
After working as a filmmaker and sound designer for several decades, I'm finding the educational area extremely satisfying. That too has taken a lot of dedication, writing a book (Sound Design) took 3 years, seeing it build readership, developing classes, etc. I think what really works for me now, is that I continue to be creative in the area of sound, even as a teacher. Carving out your place in this ever changing world, with all the new media, shifts in the film industry, internet reality, etc. I recommend keeping your eye on both paying the rent and your long term goal/vision of yourself. –  David Sonnenschein Aug 18 '10 at 17:17
    
@David - you know, it's funny. I say "not my chosen career path", but I really did enjoy it, and still enjoy sharing my knowledge when and where I can. I think, really, that that statement is a reflection of what I've done so far, but not necessarily where I'm seeking to go. I really do enjoy the academic side, I just wasn't prepared for it at that time in my life. –  Shaun Farley Aug 18 '10 at 17:50
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