payneDramatic changes in the film industry—as an art, as a business—have opened a unique opportunity for Stony Brook to create a high-profile, innovative, advanced master’s level training program in visual storytelling, built around an association with Christine Vachon and Killer Films, her highly regarded film production company.

The MFA in Creative Writing and Literature has been offering screenwriting courses since its formation at Stony Brook in 2006.

In 2008 we launched the Southampton Screenwriting Conference, a cluster of intensive, 3-credit, graduate-level writing workshops held every July, bringing to campus such luminaries as Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer, Bonnie and Clyde), Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count On Me), film critic Molly Haskell, Gene Saks, actor Alec Baldwin, Peter Hedges (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), Alexander Payne (The Decendants, About Schmidt, Sideways), and Chris Weitz (About a Boy, New Moon—The Twilight Saga).

In 2011, with Writer, Director, Producer Mitchell Kriegman, we began to offer courses in digital filmmaking. In 2012 we brought Christine Vachon’s Master Class in Independent Filmmaking to campus, and seized the opportunity to work with her to develop a stand-alone film MFA program in Visual Storytelling.

film programThis summer, in 2013, Stony Brook Southampton granted 20 full scholarships to 20 students to make 20 short films in 20 intense days (July 8-28) at its new Southampton Arts Summer program, where a community of world class filmmakers, novelists, poets, playwrights, directors, and actors gathered in a cutting edge—and uniquely bucolic—arts incubator. The yield of this experiment in filmmaking was extremely high.

The exorbitant cost of higher education is now drawing national attention. Those costs have always been a concern to students pursuing the arts. I’m proud that at Stony Brook Southampton we can offer the kind of education that is typically available only to the one percent, at a price that the 99 percent can afford.

To find out about our expanded, 20 week, 2014 Winter-Spring-Summer offering, please click here.