Search

MFA in Film

Testimonials

testimonial people

THE FACULTY

JENNIE ALLEN

You are striving to manifest creativity and you are walking through a metaphorical desert. You happen to stumble upon Jennie Allen, and I say to you congratulations! You just hit the damn JACKPOT!  Jennie is the absolute best!  She guides you to The Well and allows you to think you've found it – like all great mentors. Being technically and emotionally knowledgeable is typically a mirage.

Thesis student, Aaron Lehmann

 

Jennie Allen is one of the most engaged and supportive instructors I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. From her helpful hand-holding in Directing I to her incisive critiques–and well-chosen rebukes–in Advanced Production, she has helped guide our class as we have developed and honed our skills over the course of two years. Jennie’s support does not end when we leave the classroom. She is always glad to offer feedback and advice on projects, endeavors, or any matter, and is genuinely committed to the success of her students. I honestly could not ask for a better mentor as I’ve begun my career in filmmaking.

Second year student, David Brett

 

I loved taking Writing the Short and Production classes with Jennie; she challenges you, and encourages you to work on your scripts and short films until they're in the best possible shape they can be. Her comments and criticisms are always spot on and helpful for improving your storytelling. I learned so much from her because she herself is a talented filmmaker with a really interesting sense of humor and point of view. 

First year student, Eugina Gelbleman

 

It was a pleasure taking Directing 1 and Production 1 with Jennie Allen in the inaugural year of the SBU/Killer MFA Film program.  Jennie challenged our class with interesting directing assignments and had terrific feedback for each student at whatever level they came with to the class.  Her encouragement and love for the craft of filmmaking proved to be inspiring and constructive especially for those who hadn't necessarily produced or directed a short film previously.  She has been a great sounding board for any student who looks to her for guidance and feedback on scripts/drafts, filmed assignments, rough cuts, final cuts and producing challenges.  She is a wonderful asset to to the SBU/Killer program/team.

Second year student, Amy Gaipa

 

Jennie's commitment to helping her students succeed in production has saved more than one of us from disaster more than once.  As a director herself, she knows the ropes and how to untangle them. She always tries to figure out what we as individuals see and want and need, and she respects all our differences, never forcing her own taste preferences on students.  Jennie is a true teacher, always trying to help us get from where we, specifically, are to where we, at our best, want to be.  

Second year student, Rachel Adams

 

SIMONE PERO

Simone Pero brought in fascinating, accomplished, unique and insightful guests for the Introductory Master Class with Christine Vachon and it was a pleasure to help her as a graduate assistant. She is deeply encouraging and supportive as an instructor and cares about your success both in the program and in the film industry outside the classroom. She is generous with her time and always happy to share with you her extensive insight as a filmmaker and entrepreneur.

 First year student, Eugina Gelbelman

 

Simone Pero’s Marketing and Distribution class delivered on its stated promise: to prepare students to think like an entrepreneur and to equip them with a critical piece of collateral for selling their projects. Her knowledge, instruction and support was indispensable to me in achieving that goal. Now I have the website to show for it. 

Second year student, Susan Reib

 

Simone's energy and enthusiasm for independent filmmaking are inspiring!  She expects excellence from her students because she, herself, brings all she has to the table every day.  Everybody who wants to be successful in this industry would do well to have someone like Simone in their corner.

Second year student, Rachel Adams

 

ALAN KINGSBERG

Being a great writer doesn’t always translate to being a great teacher, but Alan has been refining his process for teaching spec and pilot scriptwriting at Columbia and Sarah Lawrence, and it works. His enthusiasm is contagious. He expects professionalism, but his workshop classes are fun. He knows what works and what doesn’t, and he will steer your script in the right direction. The class operates like a writer’s room, with students doing a table read of each script and commenting on each other’s work. His goal is for every student to leave the course with a solid script for their writing portfolio. Everyone who took his first class in spec writing came back the next term to write a pilot

First year student, Cathy Zimermann

 

Alan Kingsberg is a fantastic teacher. He works closely with you to develop your TV series ideas into successful structures and stories. He pays attention to your details, helps problem solve and gives thoughtful creative advice no matter what style or genre. Great. 

Second year student, Kathleen Harty

 

LENNY CROOKS

I became a groupie the first time I heard Lenny talk.  I'd written a screenplay about a brother and sister shortly after their father’s death, and Lenny suggested I think of the camera as their father watching over them.  When I told him how amazingly helpful his advice was—keep in mind I’m a fiction writer trying to translate narrative voice into film—he shrugged it off, saying he could do what he did because “luckily,” he wasn’t “burdened by talent.”  Which is hilarious:  He is insanely talented in a hundred ways, a genius at collaboration, and the most inspiring teacher I’ve ever had.  I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to work with him.

Faculty, Melissa Bank

 

I thought I knew a thing or two about filmmaking (I taught screenwriting at Princeton and sold scripts to Hollywood) but it wasn’t until I met the stupdendously smart and delightful Lenny Crooks that I understood how little I understood.  Now that I am somewhat enlightened, I hereby apologize to my former students and to Sony and Paramount.

Faculty, Patty Marx

 

ANNETTE HANDLEY-CHANDLER

Entering the MFA program as a fiction writer and poet, I initially scoffed at the idea that screenwriting was both a legitimate literary pursuit, and that it could have such a profound effect on my writing ability. However, from my first week in Annette Chandler's class, I realized I was sorely mistaken. Stony Brook's screenwriting program challenged me in ways that previous writing workshops had not ¾ teaching me to give careful consideration to narrative arc, character motives, tension, and plot before penning a single word of script ¾ a practice I largely neglected in the past. An emphasis is put on story-planning, which has a direct carry-over to other literary genres, and the creative process in general. Through the readings, movie assignments, and Annette's in-class discussions, I began to not only think as a screenwriter, but also a filmmaker, learning how to convey a story through images. My dialogue improved dramatically, as did my ear for pace, tone, and excess - all of which have paid immense dividends.

Because of the profound influence Annette's initial course had on me, I not only took her class a second time, but decided also to focus on screenwriting as my thesis, producing two scripts under Annette's guidance. Her mentorship, generosity of time, passion, keen eye for the craft, and industry experience helped shape me into the writer I am today.

The screenwriting program at Stony Brook in Southampton is unique. The tight-knit and accessible community of professors, speakers, and professional contacts, combined with the diversity of the graduate students, both in terms of demographics, originality and skill, makes for an invigorating, supportive and productive academic home. I made life-long friendships, connections, and experiences that have served me well in 'life after graduate school.' I say often: attaining an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Stony Brook with an emphasis in Screenwriting was the best educational decision I ever made.

2013 Thayer Fellowship in the Arts awardee, Brian Adams

 

I couldn't have asked for a better professor to work with in strengthening my abilities as a screenwriter! Annette has that educator's magic approach to writing which makes me feel  limitless. Focusing on vision, tone, and structure, she has the experience to guide you through your thoughts to the ultimate truth and essence of your characters. Always supportive in developing a consistent writing practice, she understands the roadblocks we put up for ourselves and is able to challenge you in getting out of your comfort zone to fully be present in your writing and in the lives of your characters you are trying to create. Her tough love attitude helped me to strengthen my voice through a series of short films.  And now with the confidence built from working closely with her, I am now completing my first feature-length screenplay.

                                                                                             Graduate, Tonilyn A. Sideco

I took Annette Chandler's class as it was required for my degree. I walked in with the belief that writing couldn’t be taught. After half a semester I fell completely in love with the process. The following semester I signed up for another class with Annette. Annette's class offers the safety of being in good hands. She's mastered the craft as well as how to teach it, which is a rare combination; one that not every professors achieves.

                                                                                                       Graduate, Borna Jafari

THE PROGRAM

Stony Brook/Killer’s MFA in Film offers an immersive program that combines creative practice with practical guidance in film production. The partnership with Killer Films guarantees an unparalleled instruction by top industry professionals. Powerhouse duo Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler take a matter-of-fact approach to the ‘business we call show’ as it evolves right before our eyes.

Their approach to academia reflects the longevity of their thriving careers; the aim is to protect the artistic integrity under strict financial guidelines. The access to these professionals is invaluable as we get an insider look at in-development Killer projects as they evolve from script to screen.

Better yet, the program is a collaborative effort that gathers artists with different backgrounds. The learning experience is tailored towards hands-on opportunities. Students have the chance to conceive ideas and work together to bring each vision into reality. It becomes a close-knit network of storytellers that I for one am proud to be a part of. From the picturesque grounds of Southampton to the hub of the world art market, New York City, these settings themselves are prone to ignite creative thought.

It’s a unique and truly ‘Killer’ experience.

Graduate, Dejan Pavlovic

 

The MFA in Film program delivered on its promises ¾ advanced training in all aspects of filmmaking, hands-on instruction from working/award winning professionals ¾all at an affordable SUNY tuition rate.

The forward-thinking/innovative team at Stony Brook University and Killer Films provided invaluable insight, not only pertaining to the nature of effective visual storytelling, but also into the murky waters of the industry’s future. I had such an enlightening, transformative experience, that I chose to come back for more.

Graduate, Aaron Lehmann

 

What can I say about Stony Brook’s Film Program?  It was immersive, and collaborative, challenging and inspiring.  It was worth it.  I met amazing people and learned from them all. It’s an experience I am very grateful for. Although it’s a young program, it offers a tremendous wealth of filmmaking knowledge and experience that can only make you grow as a filmmaker.  The bonds you form with your classmates extend beyond the program and I’m excited to continue the collaborations and make more films. Check it out!

Second year student, Danielle Bellucci