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MFA in Film

Screenwriting

Introducing a focus on screenwriting that brings together the best of Hollywood, European and New Wave cinema, and the Indie Film World
 
"Our goal is to turn the traditional film school model on its head."
Christine Vachon, Co-Founder, Killer Films and Stony Brook MFA Film Program Director
 
45-48 credit Film MFA starting Fall 2015

Beginning/Intermediate Screenwriting
Writing the Short Film
Dogme: the Web Series
Script Doctor

Advanced Screenwriting
The Advance Party Screenwriting Class
Film Survey/Writing the Coming of Age Film
American/ European New Wave Film Survey

mamet citationOur Emphasis:
STORY, STORY, STORY
             

Year 1

First Semester

Write the short film. Study the Auteurs in the European New Wave Film Survey.

Second Semester

Advance Party - Emulate Andrea Arnold, write a short film based on characters created by your peers and learn about The Natural Story.

Find Your Story, Write Your Script. This course will offer intensive study of the screenwriting craft with a focus on character development, structure, scene construction, scene sequence/juxtaposition, dialogue and theme. Viewing films, film clips as well as analyzing and deconstructing more complex screenplays will be required. Rigorous class sessions will consist of group readings and open critiques. The objective of this course will be to create a three-act outline and to write or rewrite a full-length feature screenplay. All levels.

Writing the Coming of Age Screenplay - We use Coming of Age films to trigger our own Coming of Age stories.

Writers also direct the shorts they wrote in Fall; the process of directing and editing their own scripts provides powerful instruction for future screenwriting.

GOAL for first year is… to learn character and collaboration, to write a bunch of shorts, to further excavate our own stories, and to begin looking at dramatic structure and working on a feature.


Year 2

First Semester

Dogme The Series - Take all you’ve learned in Advance Party and apply it to short form series co-writing. Then shoot your 10 minute sequence in a day using Dogme Rules (look them up!).

Advanced Screenwriting - This course builds on introductory screenwriting skills and elements, offering more intensive study of the screenwriting craft, especially character, scene construction, scene sequence/juxtaposition and dialogue. Structure and write or rewrite a full-length feature screenplay.  Intermediate to Advanced Screenwriters

Second Semester

Script Doctor - you have a long form script (or pieces of it) and it’s not all you thought it would be. Find out why in this intensive collaborative class. Also open to Year 1 and Year 3 students on a case by case basis.  

 

lenny crooksYear 3

Thesis Requirements

The Screenwriting thesis project is a feature length screenplay that demonstrates originality of subject matter as well as the master of the technique of cinematic and dramatic structure, characterization and dialogue. The thesis script must be a project that the student developed under the direction of his or her thesis advisor. No collaborative authorship is permitted.


To graduate with a concentration in screenwriting, screenwriters must have the following body of work:

1) Two feature length screenplays (the thesis screenplay and one additional original screenplay written in the program)

OR

2) The thesis screenplay and a television pilot +  bible

OR

3) The thesis screenplay and a web series pilot + episodes + bible

OR

4) The thesis screenplay and a short film of significant artistic merit.

And a Business Plan (identifying your audience, who’s involved in the film, casting ideas, a marketing plan to sell across platforms etc.).


Meet some of our screenwriting faculty:

"In film: action reveals character."
- Annette Handley Chandler

"... story told without embellishment and with total reliance
on the actions and words..."
- Lenny Crooks

 

Screenwriting Program History