The MFA in Screenwriting program consists of a minimum of 60 credits.
In the Screenwriting program, students will be able to:
- Deliver narrative story structure through a combination of characterization, conflict and theme.
- Demonstrate an advanced understanding of cinematic storytelling for the screen.
- Develop advanced analytical skills in order to provide professional feedback on written content for both film and television.
Four Semesters: (Fall, Spring, Fall, Spring)
MFA candidates have a fourfold requirement: to understand and practice the art of screenwriting; to learn the fundamentals of dramatic production; to understand different models of filmmaking and film history; and to comprehend the role of storyteller and that of mythology in the dramatic tradition.
A total of 60 credits is required to receive the MFA degree.
FIRST SEMESTER (CRC)
Intense writing workshop learning how to write professional sitcom scripts. Elements of character, dramatic story structure, how comedy is created, how scenes build and progress a story, formal story outlines, dialogue, the business of sitcom writing, pitching, arc, comedic premise are analyzed. The class becomes a sitcom writing team for a current hit series and writes an original class spec script to understand the process of group writing employed on most sitcoms. Also, students write their own personal spec scripts with individual conferences with the professor.
Writing the Narrative Short class is an intensive writing workshop that focuses on the short form narrative screenplay. Students will write at a pace of roughly one script per three weeks, completing a minimum of FOUR (4) polished short screenplays: a personal film; a character driven film; and two "long shorts" of 10-25 pages
Exclusive to Graduate Screenwriting students (required in 1st year). An introduction to the relationship between the written script and the image on screen. Through in-depth analysis, we will study screenplays, films and the mind of the screenwriter in order to decipher the process of developing story from character, plot and theme. Students will be required to write expository papers and present their own analysis of a chosen film.
Exclusively for screenwriting graduate students, an introduction to principles of drama, screenplay structure, characterization, screenplay description and dialogue through lecture and discussion of produced screenplays. Students begin with exercises and then write outlines/treatments in preparation for completing a first act (approximately 30 pages) and full treatment of an original feature screenplay. Student work will be discussed in workshop format.
SECOND SEMESTER (CRC)
Deals with the process and techniques of writing a dramatic series for commercial network and cable television. Students will select a current prime-time drama, develop A, B, and (possibly) C stories for an episode, and complete a Writer's Draft and polished First Draft, suitable for a Writer Portfolio. Lectures will include the life of a working television writer, one-hour story, structure, genres, and character development. We will view and analyze TV series from the past and present, and focus on proper drama script format, character development and voice.
This course starts with the basics of genre theory, then identifies American genre conventions using the course's "study" films. Study films will be discussed in terms of the genre's conventions: theme, structure, characters, setting, subject matter, visual motifs or recurring icons, and tone/mood. Each student is then required to write a treatment and 10-15 pages of a feature script in a genre unfamiliar to him/her. Students' creative work will be workshopped.
Students compose a feature-length film and a set of revisions based upon the film outline created in COM FT 711. Further examples of dramatic structure are analyzed from the library of world cinema.
Elective: 500-level or above.
THIRD SEMESTER (CRC)
Advanced screenwriting for 2nd year Graduate Screenwriting Students. Based upon lectured material, the feedback received during workshops, and one-on- one consults with the professor, students will write and revise a full feature-length screenplay. Students will be expected to have a firm grasp on narrative structure, character development, and cinematic storytelling. The material covered in the first year of the graduate screenwriting program will be applied to this intense workshop atmosphere.
A detailed and exhaustive analysis of selected screenplays through which we will focus on the cultivation of critical skills leading to a sharpened perception, and a heightened awareness of how a screenplay can be vastly improved. Utilizing these analytical skills, students will provide in-depth analysis for participating production companies who are in need of pre- production revisions. Each student will examine the chosen scripts, write coverage, write a more in-depth report for some of the production companies and meet with representatives from each project. Using the model of our workshops, the class will conduct story meetings with writers, directors and producers involved in each project. Students will be expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner through both their written reports and their verbal consultations. In addition, students will look at how source material, such as short films, stage plays and/or books can be adapted for the screen. Each student will then design a pitch based upon chosen source material and do pitch presentations.
More than half of Oscar nominated films are literary adaptations. This course analyses the current commercial and artistic reasons behind the surge in adaptations, touches upon adaptation theory, and studies novels and short stories that have been adapted for film. Students present papers on film adaptations and begin the adaptation of a short story.
Prereq FT 512 or FT 522. "Writing the TV Drama (or dramedy) Pilot," explores the creation and development of your very own "one-hour" Television Series Pilot. Each student will pitch a concept, write a treatment, outline and pilot script. Also, you'll create a "leave behind" document, which will consist of an overview of your series, complete with character descriptions, future episode ideas and much more. We will closely examine the ingredients of a pilot script through lectures, script analyses of successful pilots, written assignments and group workshops.
Prerequisites FT 522 or FT512. Got a funny idea for a show? Let’s see if it has legs. In “Writing the Comedy Pilot,” students will develop an original concept for their own half-hour, TV comedy series. This includes pitching their idea, writing a beat sheet, an outline and the pilot script. We will also create a “leave behind” pitching document that will include an overview of your series, character bios, loglines for future episodes and much more. We’ll screen pilot episodes, read produced pilot scripts and see why some worked and some didn’t. Then we’ll do some other things.
FOURTH SEMESTER (Los Angeles)
In this advanced screenwriting workshop, students will focus on developing new skills and refining previously learned writing skills including story, structure, dialogue and character development in the process of writing a dynamic, professional film or television script. Students will also prepare their script for the marketplace employing creative strategies in ideation and rewriting. Students will complete a beat sheet/ outline (1-3 pages), a treatment (3-6 pages) and either a feature script (about 110 pages) or a tv comedy script(about 45 pages) or a tv drama script (about 65 pages).Effective Fall 2023, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Writing-Intensive Course, Creativity/Innovation.
On the job professional experience in media industries: television stations, film and video production studios, networks, cable television operations, advertising agencies, digital media companies, and related corporations.
In addition to the Bulletin, master’s students should refer to the College of Communication Graduate Handbook for a comprehensive guide to policies, academic regulations, and resources.