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Film School: The True Story of a Midwestern Family Man Who Went to the World’s Most Famous Film School, Fell Flat on His Face, Had a Stroke, and Sold a Television Series to CBS

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One L meets You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again In this comic and moving and completely true tale, Film School reveals what life is like at the elite school that trained Hollywood’s biggest names. When Midwestern journalist Steve Boman applied to the University of Southern California's vaunted School of Cinematic Arts, the world's oldest and most prestigious film schoo One L meets You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again In this comic and moving and completely true tale, Film School reveals what life is like at the elite school that trained Hollywood’s biggest names. When Midwestern journalist Steve Boman applied to the University of Southern California's vaunted School of Cinematic Arts, the world's oldest and most prestigious film school, he had more than a few strikes against him: His wife was recovering from thyroid cancer. His beloved sister had just died of leukemia. He lost his job. He had three young children. He was in his late 30s…. And he had no experience in filmmaking. As Boman navigates his way through USC's arduous three-year graduate production program, he finds that his films fall flat, he's threatened with being kicked out of the program and he becomes the old guy no one wants to work with. Defeated, he quits and moves back to the Midwest to be with his family. After he is urged by his wife to reapply, he miraculously gets in for a second time...only to have a stroke on the first day of classes. But instead of doing the easy thing—running away again—Boman throws caution to the wind and embraces the challenge. He slowly becomes a gray-haired Golden Boy at USC with films that sparkle. And then he does the impossible: While still in school, for a class project, he dreams up a television series that CBS catches wind of and develops into THREE RIVERS, a primetime Sunday night show. This story of challenge and triumph—and what it takes to make it in the world’s most famous film school—is a must-read for anyone aspiring to become a Hollywood great or anyone just looking for a good story.


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One L meets You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again In this comic and moving and completely true tale, Film School reveals what life is like at the elite school that trained Hollywood’s biggest names. When Midwestern journalist Steve Boman applied to the University of Southern California's vaunted School of Cinematic Arts, the world's oldest and most prestigious film schoo One L meets You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again In this comic and moving and completely true tale, Film School reveals what life is like at the elite school that trained Hollywood’s biggest names. When Midwestern journalist Steve Boman applied to the University of Southern California's vaunted School of Cinematic Arts, the world's oldest and most prestigious film school, he had more than a few strikes against him: His wife was recovering from thyroid cancer. His beloved sister had just died of leukemia. He lost his job. He had three young children. He was in his late 30s…. And he had no experience in filmmaking. As Boman navigates his way through USC's arduous three-year graduate production program, he finds that his films fall flat, he's threatened with being kicked out of the program and he becomes the old guy no one wants to work with. Defeated, he quits and moves back to the Midwest to be with his family. After he is urged by his wife to reapply, he miraculously gets in for a second time...only to have a stroke on the first day of classes. But instead of doing the easy thing—running away again—Boman throws caution to the wind and embraces the challenge. He slowly becomes a gray-haired Golden Boy at USC with films that sparkle. And then he does the impossible: While still in school, for a class project, he dreams up a television series that CBS catches wind of and develops into THREE RIVERS, a primetime Sunday night show. This story of challenge and triumph—and what it takes to make it in the world’s most famous film school—is a must-read for anyone aspiring to become a Hollywood great or anyone just looking for a good story.

30 review for Film School: The True Story of a Midwestern Family Man Who Went to the World’s Most Famous Film School, Fell Flat on His Face, Had a Stroke, and Sold a Television Series to CBS

  1. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    This was fine. It was good. It was, however, not what I was hoping for in a memoir...but it was a good enough read. I bought this for several reasons: 1. I really like stories that showcase people facing disruptions, alterations, disasters and disillusionment thrust on one by Life --Life/The Universe et al over which one has no control -- and of these people growing from such. I enjoy reading of these people's determination, their triumph, and their eventual achievements that sometimes barely rese This was fine. It was good. It was, however, not what I was hoping for in a memoir...but it was a good enough read. I bought this for several reasons: 1. I really like stories that showcase people facing disruptions, alterations, disasters and disillusionment thrust on one by Life --Life/The Universe et al over which one has no control -- and of these people growing from such. I enjoy reading of these people's determination, their triumph, and their eventual achievements that sometimes barely resemble their goals at the onset. 2. I have experienced several elements featured in the blurb. I have completed an MFA programme, I have quit grad school and returned, I have borne illness and had to just keep going, I have relocated for the pursuit of education etc. so I was interested in reading this account. 3. It was discounted at Amazon. 4. I was on the bus one day and this cute little boy about three years old sat in the seat in front of mine. His school bag had a picture of an action figure on it that I can't even recall now. What I do recall was looking at that bag and thinking that in the '80's, when I was a child, it would have been He-Man's picture featured. Then I started shipping He-Man and Skeletor in my mind, wondering why no one ever gave that a go as a fanfic! At that point I decided it might be time to cleanse my palate a little bit. But, above all, as stated in one of my updates, when I read memoir I am seeking interiority. I don't just want a catalogue, a charting of events. I am after analyses, meaning, discernment, lessons learnt, understanding implemented, not because I am unable to make meaning of my own life, just the opposite in fact. It is because I analyse as much as I do that when I enter someone else's life I want entry beyond that which I am able to perceive externally. A memoir invites access to the real person, to how that person processes the circumstances in which they find themselves. This memoir did not. I gleaned some interesting knowledge of film and Hollywood; I pondered the sort of marriages that some people have and remain within; I was amused by some of the antics of the students that were relayed; I held my breath a bit when little points of tension (will he or won't he finish the student film in time?) rolled around; I was annoyed by some of the oblique prejudicial comments; I had moments of diversion looking online for some of the characters mentioned in full name, but I was never moved. I never gained access. I never got a story with depth. When I reconciled myself to the very odd and amateurish narrative structure that made attempts at creating links and meaning and reconciled myself to the fact that this was less internal journey through challenges and more superficial/topical in its focus, I was able to let go and enjoy the book somewhat. It is a solid enough read, after all. Notwithstanding, it didn't really live up to what I wish for from a memoir.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jayna

    True confession time: I, too, went to USC film school, albeit many, many moons before the author and as an undergraduate Critical Studies major instead of a graduate student in the Production program. In a few places, I felt like the book could have been written when I was there. I cracked up at the scenes with Dr. Casper. Apparently he has not changed his teaching style one iota (nor his classes: I, too, took Hollywood Musicals and The Films of Alfred Hitchock from him.) However, Boman doesn't True confession time: I, too, went to USC film school, albeit many, many moons before the author and as an undergraduate Critical Studies major instead of a graduate student in the Production program. In a few places, I felt like the book could have been written when I was there. I cracked up at the scenes with Dr. Casper. Apparently he has not changed his teaching style one iota (nor his classes: I, too, took Hollywood Musicals and The Films of Alfred Hitchock from him.) However, Boman doesn't mention the omnipresent polo shirts (the better to show off Dr. Casper's - at the time - impressive biceps.) So apparently there has been some sartorial concessions to time's passage. (I did take exception to Boman's assertion that foreign cinema and historical filmmaking conditions in other countries were not taught at the film school. A few Drew Casper courses are not representative of the entire Critical Studies curriculum, Steve. You should have sought out Dr. Michael Renov for those conversations - he's great.) But some things have changed drastically. I also laughed when the author described USC as a bastion of champagne socialists. When I was there, the membership of the Young Republicans outnumbered the Young Democrats by a margin of about 450 to 1. The student body booed Walter Mondale so vociferously, he had to quit his speech and leave. Nice to see they've come around in the intervening years, so much so that now conservatives are complaining. As for film school itself, it was and still is a microcosm of Hollywood. That's why USC is the best. It's not so much the education - although there are some very good instructors - as it is the preparation for a career in the entertainment industry. Any school can instruct you how to frame a shot, how to edit for pace, how beat out a scene, how to coach a performance out of an actor. USC teaches all that, PLUS how to survive in the real world trenches. Film school is competitive and cutthroat and a time suck? Not getting enough sleep? Classmates causing disruptions and needless emergencies? Wait until you work on a real set. Or in a real studio office. You'll only wish you still had Dr. Casper's lectures to look forward to. But enough of my rant. Steve Boman tells a smart, witty, extremely well-paced, and honest account of his three years as an atypical film school grad stud. He goes back to school in his late thirties, with three small children and his former breadwinning wife recovering from her bout of cancer. It took extreme chutzpah to take on the staggering amount of debt that is six semesters of USC to get a degree in a field as crapshoot as film and television production. No wonder 'SC accepted him - this is the type of personality one needs to survive in the business. And even so, Boman bombs out. When his second year is shaping up to a disaster - he's paired with a student who wants to make a zombie musical for her portion of the all-important 308 core production class - he leaves school and returns to Minnesota. Only to realize a few years later that, no, what he really, REALLY wants to do is direct (and write) and he returns to Southern Cal (the geographic region, not the school. USC is NOT called Southern Cal. East Coast college football pundits, as usual, are wrong.) Only to immediately have a stroke. A literal stroke. On his first day of class. Not even Hollywood would buy Boman's story. A little too on the nose, as he is the first to admit. There's a triumphant comeback, and the type of ending that most film students only dream of. But it's all true. And Boman's experience is why thousands of would-be filmmakers apply to USC every year, and why film studies programs are springing up all over the country. We all want to believe the Hollywood magic will touch us, too. (Second true confession: I was the only person in my Critical Studies graduating class to land an entertainment industry job right after graduation. Boman is correct: there are no guarantees when it comes to employment, not even after spending 100K on tuition.) I enjoyed the book wholeheartedly. Now I kinda want to go back to school. But only kinda.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Blake McCarty

    Honestly it was interesting hear about the protagonist’s tribulation and perseverance, but i just couldn’t relate and got bored almost immediately. I spent most of the time rolling my eyes and forcing myself to read just so i would know how it all ended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This is a fish-out-of-water story of a reporter turned film student at one of the best film schools in the world. There are multiple things I enjoyed about this book. First of all, the topic was interesting and I learned all about what it is like not only to go to film school but to learn all the aspects of film making. Second, Boman has a great pacing. Let's put it this way. I bought this book on Friday afternoon and had it done by SUnday afternoon. You really get to root for Bowman as he navig This is a fish-out-of-water story of a reporter turned film student at one of the best film schools in the world. There are multiple things I enjoyed about this book. First of all, the topic was interesting and I learned all about what it is like not only to go to film school but to learn all the aspects of film making. Second, Boman has a great pacing. Let's put it this way. I bought this book on Friday afternoon and had it done by SUnday afternoon. You really get to root for Bowman as he navigates the logistics of grad school. A really fun read. He has a nice voice/sense of humor and he gives you enough background knowledge so that you aren't thinking (re: technical issues) "I don't know what he's talking about." Enjoyed it!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jorge Akef Rodriguez

    The book is good if you're wondering about the lifestyle that a USC graduate film student harbors, but there are very few tips on how to actually make a film. It's a smooth and entertaining read that will leave you feeling hopeful and light hearted, for even when Steve describes some of his most horrid experiences during his time at USC, he manages to write them in a way where you never lose hope for him or take it gravely serious. He laughs at himself, and you join in for the chuckle.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ro

    The full title should be preceded by "spoiler alert", but that quibble aside this was an enjoyable book. I was mostly drawn to it because my daughter is considering cinema as a course of study, but also because I am a big fan of the show Three Rivers. I wanted to learn about the show's development and back story.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Glowacky

    I liked the book. It was an interesting reading of the author's stuggles through film school and all that was involved. One of my son's graduated with a BFA in Film Production and he is currently stuggling to "make it" out in California. The book helped me have insight into some of the things my son had to go through.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Ash

    Bought this as a kindle daily deal from Amazon because the short description and cover made me think it was comedy in the vein of National Lampoon's Vacation. It is not that at all, but the author's story of success through difficult circumstances is compelling. He has obviously enjoyed his life and work, and reading about it makes me want to succeed.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Martine

    I enjoyed this book, enjoyed the narrator's ride in the one of the country's most prestigious film schools. You can't help but root for him and since I know the school, the area, it was easy to imagine it. I read this in a couple of days and truly enjoyed it. It's not a literary masterpiece but it's not meant to be. Well written and the narrator's voice is welcoming, funny and interesting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Monique Gonzalez (Valadez)

    Absolutely HYSTERICAL!! Reminded me of a lot of "personalities" I've known. Definitely recommend for someone who doesn't know ANYTHING AT ALL about the industry. It's a good LIGHT, but insightful introduction to how people approach things in a realistic way.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Fascinating man and suspenseful book for someone in film school. Couldn't put it down.

  12. 4 out of 5

    805josh

    This book was a great memior. IT was thrilling, seemed very real and had great and specific details.It was the best memior ive read so i would highly recamend it

  13. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    Nice to read about sane, hard working people in Hollywood instead of the usual self indulgent prima donnas.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Funny, fast moving and very entertaining. Enjoy it on the beach or at the cabin this summer.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marc

    Excellent retelling of the USC Film School experience. A worthy read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Noah

    Reminded me of some good times in college, but over all seemed a little self-aggrandizing.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Karina Contreras

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dallas W Kingsbury

  19. 4 out of 5

    Victor

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kim Sheehan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aadam Webb

  23. 4 out of 5

    Justina Hayden

  24. 5 out of 5

    Walt

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian Behm

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Meyer

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Dufault

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rändi Fay

  30. 4 out of 5

    Reilly Ryan

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