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MFA in Film Open House

open house

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 5 pm
Stony Brook Manhattan Center for Creative Writing and Film

Christine Vachon and Vox Lux's Brady Corbet discuss 'The Path of the Writer Director.'

RSVP to MFAManhattan@stonybrook.edu for more details.

Screenwriting


Our Emphasis: STORY, STORY, STORY

Year 1

First Semester

Writing the Short. Students will study different short forms and dramatic theory but the focus of this class is on practice. The main fuel for each class will be student work. Students write and revise short film scripts, provide and receive peer feedback, and reflect upon the process. Students leave with three scripts, two of which have been through at least one revision. For FLM students, this includes the film they will pitch in the Master Class and shoot in Spring.

Dogme - Emulate Andrea Arnold. Following an introduction to the character based Natural Story method you write an eight minute episode using shared characters and shoot it, Dogme style.

Second Semester

Screenwriting I – Students develop a feature length screenplay idea. Screenings, screenplay readings, and analysis of feature film structure accompany writing exercises and assignments designed to help students develop their idea into a compelling, original story. Students leave with a prose treatment or step outlineof their story from start to finish as well as the  first 30 pages.

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

Writers also direct one of 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 generate shorts, to further excavate our own stories, and to begin looking at understand dramatic structure and begin working on a feature screenplay.

Year 2

First Semester

Screenwriting II - 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.

TV Writing – Writing the Spec Script. Students learn how to write a spec script for a TV show that is currently on the air. A “spec” is a script where the writer creates original stories for a show’s existing characters.  Students will learn how to brainstorm story ideas, structure an outline and write scenes with dialogue, all in a constructive, supportive workshop atmosphere. The class covers both half-hour comedies and one-hour dramas. In addition, the class will watch, deconstruct and discuss a wide variety of TV shows in order to better understand how a successful episode is built. All the basics of TV writing are covered and the workshop is designed to closely mirror a professional writers room on a prime-time series.

Second Semester

Writing the Short II - Students will continue to study different short forms and advanced dramatic theory but the focus of this class is on practice. The main fuel for each class will be student work. Students write and revise several short film scripts or a web series, provide and receive peer feedback, and reflect upon the process. Open to 2nd years and above. While students will work on more than one project, it is possible for directing students to develop their thesis scripts in this class.

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 script revision class. Also open to Year 1 and Year 3 students on a case by case basis.  

TV Writing – Creating an Original Series - Pilot. Each student creates an original series, mini bible and writes a pilot script. Meets 3 hours per week as a class. Building on the skills developed in the Fall semester, each student creates and develops an original series concept. This requires a set of characters and a central conflict that can sustain multiple seasons of compelling stories. The successful series has both this type of story engine and a strong emotional core. From the series concept students move on to creating stories for their pilot episode, outlining and finally writing scenes.

GOAL for second year is finishing feature scripts, learning television writing, and further developing shorts to direct, web series, etc. There are ample opportunities for generating and finishing writing projects in the second year as well as learning the craft of writing for television. In addition, students may take …. (marketing, Killer film survey, directing, classes in Creative Writing, independent projects, etc.)

Year 3

Thesis Requirements

lenny crooks

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.

IMPORTANT: In addition to their written work, students must have completed one semester of the Script Revision class in order to fulfill the requirements for an M.F.A. in Screenwriting.

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)

OR

2) The thesis screenplay and two original television scripts

OR

3) The thesis screenplay and a television pilot + bible

OR

4) The thesis screenplay and web series pilot + episodes + bible.

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

All writing concentrates must register for FLM 691 AND FLM 692 Thesis and MFA Project with their thesis advisor while working on their screenplays.


Meet some of our screenwriting faculty:

"Story, story, story."
- Jennie Allen

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