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New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy Bachelor of Fine Arts

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree in Screenwriting

Screenwriting at New York Film Academy A red pen sits upon a screenplay and laptop NYFA screenwriting school student supervises script on set Screenwriting school student makes notes to script by hand NYFA screenwriting school student reviews script on set

Overview of our BFA in Screenwriting

Our three-year Bachelor's degree is designed for highly motivated students who would like to enter an intensive, hands-on, professional course of study. By completing the Bachelor's degree in three years, students:
  • Save one year of expenses.
  • Enter the field of their choice a year early.
The Academy makes this accelerated schedule possible by creating an extended academic year, allowing students to complete three full-length semesters in each calendar year.

The New York Film Academy BFA in Screenwriting program is offered at our Los Angeles Campus.


NYFA Screenwriting Degree Programs

An interview based promotion using student and faculty to describe the screenwriting program in Los Angeles and the experience of a screenwriting student. This promo features Nunzio Defilippis, Adam Finer and Cricket Rumley from the staff. (4 min)

The New York Film Academy recognizes the critical role writers play in the creation of every film and television show. Yet writing talent alone is not enough to create successful work in these mediums; screenwriting is a learned craft. A writer must write every day to train for the demands of this field, and to truly understand the elements that make a screenplay or teleplay functional as well as engaging.

In addition to learning the conventions of the writing craft, students are given the support and structure to write and meet deadlines. Students write intensively throughout the course and complete several projects with the assistance of constructive critique from instructors as well as peers. To that end, BFA in Screenwriting students learn how to create great stories, and to tell them with a confidence and clarity that befits a professional.

The core screenwriting courses of the BFA in Screenwriting are supported by a full complement of courses in the liberal arts and sciences. These are designed to broaden the writers' education, feed their inquisitiveness, and give them the critical, analytical, and communication tools needed not just to be great writers, but also more fulfilled human beings.

The BFA in Screenwriting offers a well-rounded collegiate education in the arts and humanities and social and natural sciences, with a comprehensive study of, and practice in, the art and craft of screenwriting and related filmmaking disciplines.

Overall, the screenwriting courses concentrate on developing the tools required to create believable characters and stories in several major fields of screenwriting (film, television, web series, playwriting, and elective choices including comic books and games). The program builds to a final thesis project, either a television series pilot script or a feature film screenplay. This is plotted, written, and rewritten, with guidance and feedback from a thesis committee in a manner designed to reflect the development processes in the entertainment industry.

In the liberal arts and sciences, students complete the majority of the required Foundation Studies in the first two semesters. Courses taught in the area of Foundation Studies focus on communications, analysis, and deductive reasoning. Students practice critical thinking, scholarly research, writing, and reading. These courses build a foundation for more specialized subjects requiring advanced written and oral communication skills in later semesters. The skills mastered will prepare students for the advanced coursework of constructing an authentic voice in their writing projects. Coursework in physical and mental wellness provides focus on the theory and practice of lifelong wellness in a stressful industry.

Subsequent courses in the liberal arts and sciences bolster students' understanding of world history, political science, art history, social and natural sciences, mathematics, English composition, and literature.

WHAT MAKES OUR SCREENWRITING PROGRAMS UNIQUE?

Students in the New York Film Academy’s Screenwriting programs generate a lot of written material, building a portfolio of writings that span several mediums. There is a focus on film and television, but BFA students will also study comics, web series, plays, and games.

Upon completion of the program, students not only understand story structure, character, conflict, and dialogue, but also leave the Academy with finished products that they can pitch, produce, and try to sell.

In the BFA Screenwriting program, students are taught the art of screenwriting through workshop courses that have them learn by writing, as well as in skill-building courses that focus on film history, film genres, and specific skills, like scene construction, adaptation, and character building. Students also study filmmaking, acting, and editing, to get a complete sense of how cinematic stories are told. In addition to stories, treatments, and scripts, students will also create, direct, and edit their own short film and their own web series pilot.

Lastly, NYFA’s degree programs in Screenwriting have business classes that teach students the reality of the industry -- how to find work as a writer, how to work in the industry to support yourself, how to find an agent or manager, and how to pitch your stories and story ideas. These classes require students to get an internship in the industry.

The BFA Program culminates in a Pitch Fest where students get to pitch their thesis script to agents, managers, executives, and/or producers.

SEMESTER ONE OBJECTIVES

During the first semester, students will develop a foundational understanding of cinematic storytelling and the tools required to create a story in Elements of Screenwriting. The students are introduced to film theory and begin generating story ideas in their first week of class. They will learn how to find and generate story ideas, and how to develop those ideas into full narratives for film. By the end of the semester, students will write a short film screenplay. Students will learn habits for college success and will also bolster their screenwriting with a course in English composition.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS FOR SEMESTER ONE
At the end of semester one, students will have produced:
  • Short treatments for two possible feature length films.
  • A developed treatment for a feature film screenplay.
  • A script for a short film (3-5 minutes).

SEMESTER TWO OBJECTIVES

In the second semester, students will build upon what they learned in semester one. Courses continue to develop screenwriting skills through continued writing, taking the treatment they developed in semester one and writing their first feature-length screenplay. Students will study the history, structure, and format of television, and come up with story ideas for spec episodes of existing television series.

In addition, the class Script to Screen will allow students to gain an understanding of how the written word translates to action on screen, as they learn traditional and contemporary acting and filmmaking techniques. Students will rewrite the short script created last semester, and will direct and edit their own short film. Critical Film Studies will introduce a number of historical film movements that provided the framework for many of cinema’s greatest auteurs. Students will continue their Foundation Studies with a course in public speaking.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS AND PRODUCED WORK FOR SEMESTER TWO
At the end of semester two, students will have produced:
  • A full-length feature screenplay.
  • Story ideas for spec episodes of existing TV series.
  • A digital short film.

SEMESTER THREE OBJECTIVES

In semester three, students will advance their knowledge of television by writing their first scripts. They will expand upon the ideas they generated last semester and plot sample episodes of a current one-hour television drama and a current half-hour comedy, and then write one of the two. In Genre Studies, students will examine the conventions and expectations of Hollywood genre storytelling.

In New Media, students will expand their writing skills by exploring the current media landscape, in which content is delivered through ever-evolving avenues and formats such as web series, branded content, and other short-form content options. The world of transmedia will be introduced, with a focus on brand integration across multiple platforms and creating immersive worlds. Students will deepen their understanding and appreciation of the arts and literature. They will round out their Foundation Studies and expand their knowledge base and analytical skills through a critical thinking course as well as mathematics.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS AND PRODUCED WORK FOR SEMESTER THREE
At the end of semester three, students will have produced:
  • An outline of a half-hour spec television episode.
  • An outline of an hour-long spec television episode.
  • A complete draft of a half-hour or hour-long spec television episode.
  • A fully produced and edited pilot for a web series.

SEMESTER FOUR OBJECTIVES

In semester four, students will refine their feature film writing skills by drafting a second original screenplay, this time with a more detailed method of plotting their work before writing the script. They will have the option of taking one of two courses on new media formats. In Sequential Art, students will learn and practice the unique storytelling forms of graphic novels, comic books, and manga; or, in Interactive Narrative, students study games as a medium for stories and story worlds, and build a game idea. In The Great Screenplays, students will deepen their knowledge and critical understanding of Academy Award-winning and -nominated screenplays, analyzing the techniques used by the great screenwriters. Adaptation I will introduce students to the unique opportunities -- and challenges -- of writing stories based on pre-existing material. Art, Culture, and Society will help students understand their role as writers and give more depth to their scripts.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS AND PRODUCED WORK FOR SEMESTER FOUR
At the end of semester four, students will have produced:
  • A detailed beat breakdown and first draft of a second original screenplay.
  • A proposal for an original comic book, graphic novel or manga and a script for the first issue or chapter.
  • OR:
  • A game proposal for a board, video, roleplaying, card, or other game.

SEMESTER FIVE OBJECTIVES

Students will continue their practice of television writing, this time by creating an original television series and writing the pilot episode. In Adaptation II, students will take what they learned about adapting material last semester and put it into practice. They will build a treatment for a feature film based on pre-existing source material. Students will broaden their general education studies into the natural, behavioral, and social sciences, allowing their writing to pull from a deeper base of knowledge, as well as providing a deeper exploration of theatre, art or film.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS FOR SEMESTER FIVE
At the end of semester five, students will have produced:
  • A pilot script and a series proposal/bible for an original television series.
  • A short proposal for an additional television series.
  • A treatment or outline for an adaptation of a non-cinematic source material.

SEMESTER SIX OBJECTIVES

During semester six, students will take their screenwriting skills further with a Rewriting Workshop. Students will take one of their previous feature scripts and build a plan to revise it based on previous and current feedback, and then follow through on a thorough second draft of that script. This revision will allow the students to work more deeply and critically on their scripts. In Thesis and Character Development, students will take a semester to plot the project they will write in their final year as their thesis script. By taking a semester to go over the story, the world, and the characters, students will learn that a great deal of writing can, and should, be done before a single word of script is written. In conjunction with this class, students will start to build their thesis committee by selecting a thesis advisor from the screenwriting faculty. This advisor will meet with the student individually while the student develops the idea in class. In Screenwriting Discipline and Methodology, students learn and apply techniques of goal setting, project management, workflow, and creating and adhering to productive and creative work habits. In The Great Playwrights, students will study writers for the stage and how they are connected to the screenwriters of today. A social science course further rounds out the students’ education.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS FOR SEMESTER SIX
At the end of semester six, students will have produced:
  • A revised feature film treatment or series proposal and pilot beat sheet, to be used for a thesis script.
  • A revision of a feature script written in a previous semester.

SEMESTER SEVEN OBJECTIVES

In semester seven, students will begin writing their thesis projects, based on the treatment or series proposal they developed in semester six. In this semester, students will write a first draft of their film or a draft and rewrite of their series pilot, and deliver the script to their thesis committee. The committee will be comprised of their thesis instructor and advisor. In addition, each committee may have one faculty member serve as a reader. Before the end of the semester students will meet with their committee to get notes on their first draft. At the end of the semester, students will have built a plan to address these notes, which they will carry into their final semester.

Using the study of trade publications and via a guest speaker series, The Business of Screenwriting introduces students to the practices, conventions, and players in today’s entertainment industry, and the role of the screenwriter in it. Students will develop valuable skills such as script coverage, pitching, and researching industry trends, in order to prepare them for professional life after graduation. In addition, the students take part in internships at production companies, studios, television networks, or talent agencies, gaining invaluable industry knowledge and contacts. In Playwriting, students will create an original short play to help add a new dimension to their creative portfolio. A natural science course further rounds out the students’ education.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS FOR SEMESTER SEVEN
At the end of semester seven, students will have produced:
  • A first draft of a feature film screenplay or revised draft of a pilot teleplay.
  • A revision blueprint for their thesis script.
  • An original short play.

SEMESTER EIGHT OBJECTIVES

The eighth and final semester sees the students complete their revised thesis projects. They will receive notes from their committee and build a plan for any future rewrites or polishes. In Scene Study, students work deeper than ever before to perfect individual scenes from their scripts. Whereas the focus up until now was mostly on overall story structure and character arc, Scene Study affords students the chance to gain skills and confidence in making the actual beats of their scenes resonate more than ever. Actors are brought into this class for in-class exercises during which the writers get to see their scenes played out in real time as they make adjustments. Finally, Business of Screenwriting II focuses more and more on the art of the verbal pitch, a crucial selling tool for any screenwriter. Students will also participate in industry internships at production companies, agencies, management companies, or studios.

The program culminates in a pitch event in which invited industry executives come hear the students present their thesis projects in a round-robin night of pitching, an opportunity for the students to further develop their professional skills and networks. Classes in art and theatre deepen the students’ general knowledge and enrich their scripts.

PORTFOLIO OF WRITINGS FOR SEMESTER EIGHT
At the end of semester eight, students will have produced:
  • A revised draft of their thesis screenplay or teleplay.
  • A revision blueprint for future revisions to their thesis script.
  • A five-minute pitch for their thesis project.
  • A list of log lines for the portfolio built over their eight semesters.

NYFA PITCH FEST

To celebrate the completion of the BFA Screenwriting Program, the New York Film Academy hosts a pitch event for graduating BFA Screenwriting students in good academic standing, whose pitch and script are deemed industry-ready. Representatives from top Hollywood agencies, management companies, studios, and production companies attend the event to hear NYFA students pitch their thesis projects. While this event has opened industry doors to students in the past, the primary intent of the Pitch Fest is to provide students with pitching experience and feedback outside the classroom walls.

Qualified students have the option of completing coursework at the New York Film Academy campus in New York City in a one-year non-degree program, and then applying their coursework to be accepted for advanced standing in the BFA Screenwriting degree program. Students who complete the AFA Screenwriting Program can continue into the BFA Program by finishing the remaining four semesters of BFA, focusing on the liberal arts and sciences as well as more advanced screenwriting coursework.

Course Description

  • Elements of Screenwriting Through lectures, in-class exercises, outside readings, classroom discussions, and film viewings, this course introduces students to the craft of screenwriting. Screenplay formatting will be a focus, and students will learn how to write scene description, to describe characters and locations, and to develop action sequences. Topics will also include: Classic Screenplay Structure, the Elements of the Scene, Developing the Character, Character Arcs, Antagonists, Dialogue, Writing the Visual Image, Introduction to Final Draft Screenwriting Software, Theme, Conflict, Flashbacks, Fantasy Sequences, Dream Sequences, Voiceover, Text and Subtext, Developing a Writing Style, Tone and Genre, Visualization, Revealing Exposition, Creating a Compelling Second Act, Climaxes and Resolutions, and Scene Beats.
  • Writing the Feature Film Screenplay I Writing the Feature Film Screenplay I is a fast-paced, intensive workshop that introduces students to the fundamentals of screenwriting. The classes consist of in-class writing exercises, individual writing, reading aloud of student work in class, and workshop discussions. Students will apply knowledge gained from Elements of Screenwriting and apply it to the creation of their own feature-length scripts. By the end of the course, students will develop and write a first draft of a feature-length screenplay.
  • Story Generation Story Generation is designed to help writers become what the film industry needs most: prolific sources of movie ideas. Through in-class exercises and out-of-class projects, students will develop skills for generating viable stories for feature films of various genres. They will workshop ideas in class in order to come up with the best possible version of their stories. The idea is to become versatile, adaptable, and creative, providing the best “product” to the industry when called upon to generate new ideas to fill various needs. In the second half of the course, students will commit to one of their story ideas and develop it into a treatment.
  • Writing for Television I: The One-Hour Drama This television workshop introduces students to the fundamentals of the TV world and TV writing. The class work consists of individual writing, reading aloud of student work in class, and workshop discussions. By the end of the course, each student will have written a Studio/Network draft (which is a second draft, in the TV world) of a one-hour television spec script for an existing show. Students will be encouraged to write through difficult spots with the belief that getting to “The End” is more important than polishing along the way. Workshop sessions will simulate a TV writers' room, and will be an environment in which students evaluate their own and their classmates' work. A constructive, creative and supportive atmosphere will prevail, where students will guide and encourage each other in their writing.
  • Writing the Feature Film Screenplay II Writing the Feature Screenplay II builds upon knowledge gained in Writing the Feature Screenplay I and Story Generation, in which students wrote a feature-length film script and a treatment for a second feature-length film script, respectively. This course is divided into two components: in the first, students will take the treatment written in Story Generation and write a draft of that script. In the second half of the course, students will choose one of their two feature scripts and revise it more thoroughly than they have with any project in the program so far. Each week, students will bring in a sequence of their scripts to be workshopped.
  • Script to Screen Script to Screen is designed to help writing students see what happens to their words when actors interpret them in front of the camera. The class is divided into two components: Acting for Writers and The Digital Filmmaking Seminar. Acting for Writers introduces students to the theory and practice of the acting craft, using Stanislavski Method, improvisation, and scene and monologue work as starting points. By exploring how actors build characters and performances based upon the information provided in a film script, writers will learn how to write more powerful dialogue, develop more memorable characters, and create more effective dramatic actions. Through in-class acting exercises and writing, as well as filmed exercises, students will learn what truly makes for great dialogue and action writing.

    The Digital Filmmaking Seminar trains students in the fundamentals of film directing, which in turn facilitates an understanding of the filmmaking process as it relates to screenwriting. It is our belief that a student who actually picks up a camera, blocks a scene and directs actors from a script is far better prepared to then write a screenplay. If a writer has actually translated a shot on the page into a shot in the camera, then the writer has a much sharper perspective on the writing process. Hands-on classes in directing, editing, cinematography, and production cover the creative and technical demands of telling a story with moving images. Then, working in small crews, students will make short films or shoot scenes from one of their screenplays using digital video cameras. Afterward, students will edit their footage.
  • Writing for Television II: The Half-Hour Spec Students will become familiar with the half-hour television landscape past and present, styles of half-hour television writing, and the current crop of viable series from which to draw the spec they will write. Each student will then draft a professional-caliber spec for a half-hour show. Students will learn from individual writing, group workshops, short lectures, television screenings, and story analysis to create two pieces of writing. The workshop portion of the class will be constructed to simulate a TV writers' room, with students reading, evaluating, and assisting each other from “breaking story,” building outlines, all the way to a completed draft. The primary goal of the class will be for students to leave with a full, revised and polished draft of a television half-hour spec script.
  • Sequential Art Writing This workshop provides a complete introduction to the medium and to the craft of writing stories for comic books in all their many forms. Students learn the various styles of formatting (loose or detailed scripts) and story structure (stand-alone stories, chapters in serialized stories, or full-length graphic novels), as well as how to tell a story visually and with the proper pacing. As students move to script, the workshop environment allows class members to help each other develop their ideas from pitch to outline to breakdown to completed project. The course goal is to produce a 22-page script, which can either be a stand-alone story or the first chapter of a larger tale. Also discussed is the industry and how to break in.
  • The Great Screenplays The Great Screenplays is a critical studies course focused on exploring Academy Award-winning American and foreign movies from the past ten decades. Through in-class screenings, readings of screenplays, lectures, and discussions, students will gain a deeper understanding of how the art of screenwriting has evolved since the 1920s.
  • New Media I New Media I introduces students to today's New Media landscape, in which web series, mobisodes, branded entertainment, and other distribution outlets provide opportunities heretofore unavailable to filmmakers. Students will learn how technologies, programming formats, and mediums influence New Media styles and genres. Also discussed is the business of New Media and its players. Sessions will include lectures, seminars, guest speakers, content analysis, and in-class and homework exercises.
  • Adaptation I In today's Hollywood, adaptation is everywhere-it's extremely common to see a “based on” credit ahead of the screenwriter's name. Historically, novels, short stories, plays, and magazine articles have served as underlying source material, but in the last decade, comic books, graphic novels, TV shows, board games, theme park rides, even old films, have increasingly become fair game. The end result is this: a tremendous number of potential jobs for new screenwriters involve adaptation. In this course, students will identify the challenges that surround translating a non-cinematic art form into a cinematic story by studying existing adaptations.
  • Writing for Television III: The Pilot Students will create an original episodic television series, including completing the script for the pilot episode. Topics will include: introducing your central character and core cast, creating a series "template," creative solutions to providing back story, and building the show's world and tone.

    Students will learn from individual writing, group workshops, short lectures, television screenings, and story analysis to create two pieces of writing. The workshop portion of the class will be constructed to simulate a TV writers' room, with students reading, evaluating, and assisting each other from “breaking story,” building outlines, all the way to a completed draft.

    The primary goal of the class will be for students to leave with a full draft of a television pilot script for an original show, either one-hour or half-hour.
  • Adaptation II Having studied adaptations of original source material into films in Adaptation I, students will now select a work to adapt or update and generate a 10-15 page treatment based on the material. They will maintain the essence of the original story while making sure to imbue the new screenplay with its own dramatic impact. From this treatment, students will write a complete draft of the screenplay.
  • New Media II New Media II picks up where New Media I left off. After having learned about the New Media landscape and the content that comprises it, students will develop their own web series and write the pilot episode of their series. Each student will then produce and edit the pilot episode. The pilot scripts that will be shot will not exceed five pages – and will be accompanied by a “bible” that will outline future episodes for a completed series and introduce the audience to the world that the show will create on the web. The class is broken down into both writing and directing workshops as the students progress from the scripting phase all the way through production and post-production. In the first portion of the course, students will develop their own original web series and will workshop pilot scripts and series bibles. Hands-on directing, camera, and production workshops will prepare students for the final portion of the course in which they will produce their pilot episodes.

    Students will produce and shoot their pilot episodes. Following production, students will attend editing classes, and will then edit their episodes, which they will present to the class in an in-class screening in the final week of the course.
  • The Great Playwrights Unable to rely on spectacle to entertain, well-written stage plays make the most of the fundamental elements of dramatic writing: character, conflict, relationships, and theme. Stage dramas, when done well, are tight, focused, lean, exploring a central question deeply rather than broadly. This sort of storytelling is often the most compelling, and screenwriters should strive to achieve this kind of dramatic action, even if within the context of a story that calls for big, sweeping action. This class will make use of filmed plays, in-class table reads, at-home reading assignments, and in-class and homework analysis and writing exercises. Playwrights examined will include but not be limited to: Chekov, Ibsen, Shaw, Miller, Pinter, Bond, Churchill, Simon, Mamet, Shepard, Rabe, Sorkin.
  • Advanced Writing Seminar I: Character Development & Topics By combining the disciplines of clinical psychology and screenwriting, Advanced Character Development will teach students to create characters that guide the development of their story. Just as the psychotherapist immerses him- or herself in the client's subjective point-of-view to lead the client to more meaningful paths of behavior, students will be encouraged, via small-group workshops and exercises, one-on-one interviewing, and analysis of movies and literature, to mine their unique points-of-view to find engaging characters that will grow and change, and inform narrative over the course of writing the screenplay. The class will take place during the inception of students' Thesis projects.
  • The Business of Screenwriting I The core of this class is mastering the “Art of the Pitch” in preparation for a major industry pitch event with agents, managers and producers. In addition, a heavy emphasis on guest speakers will illuminate every corner of the industry.
  • Advanced Thesis Workshop I: Film Option Advanced Thesis Writing Workshop I is designed to build on existing student knowledge about feature film writing and take it to the next level. As a whole, the course will mirror the majority of the writing deals being given in Hollywood today. Each student starts by working up a detailed treatment for his or her idea. From there, students take it to a first draft.

    Students will submit both their treatment and first draft to their Thesis Committee, which consists of the Chair of the Screenwriting department, the student's Thesis advisor, Thesis instructor and a core screenwriting instructor. The Thesis Committee meetings will provide the student an opportunity to present their vision of their feature screenplay and voice any issues they have executing this vision, thereby allowing the Committee to provide detailed notes and guidance specific to the student's strengths and weaknesses, and how they can master their craft in a professional level.
  • Advanced Thesis Workshop I: TV Option This advanced TV writing workshop builds upon the fundamentals of TV writing learned in the previous semesters. The classwork consists of individual writing, reading aloud of student work in class, screenings, and workshop discussions. By the end of this course, each student will have written an outline for their pilot episode, a draft of their series bible and a first draft of their pilot.

    Students will submit both their series bible and first draft to their Thesis Committee, which consists of the Chair of the Screenwriting department, the student's Thesis advisor, Thesis instructor and a core screenwriting instructor. The Thesis Committee meetings will provide the student an opportunity to present their vision of their feature screenplay and voice any issues they have executing this vision, thereby allowing the Committee to provide detailed notes and guidance specific to the student's strengths and weaknesses, and how they can master their craft in a professional level.
  • The Business of Screenwriting II While students have been introduced to the five-minute pitch, they have not yet perfected it. This shall be the primary focus of The Business of Screenwriting II, building to the Pitch Fest at the end of the program. In addition to honing their pitches, students will play a large role in identifying and inviting guests. Guest speakers will continue to be featured, with the focus moving away from “general knowledge” topics, to more specific topics in the field of screenwriting and omnimedia writing. As part of this course, students will take part in an industry internship or may instead choose to write an industry-related research paper.

    Students may intern at a film or television production company, film or television studio, management company, or talent agency. Students are encouraged to choose their internship wisely based on their interests and strengths honed during the program. The Business of Screenwriting instructor is responsible for approving internships. Any internship considered as enhancing and/or enriching the student¹s understanding of the film or television industry may be an option. Students will be expected to write reports on their internship experiences, and internship supervisors will assess the students' performance at the work site. Students should keep in mind as they choose their internship sites that this position is likely to be their entree into the entertainment industry, so it is imperative that they be responsible and recommended that they foster as many positive relationships as possible.

    Instead of an internship, students may write a Research Project. Students may opt to write a research paper that will investigate a specific topic related to the entertainment industry. All research papers must be approved by the Business of Screenwriting instructor, and must address a topic that directly relates to the field, such as the Studio System, histories of specific entertainment companies or movements, depictions of writers and filmmakers in popular culture, etc. Papers must be at least 15 pages in length and must reference a comprehensive list of research sources.
  • Advanced Writing Seminar II: Scene Writing and Topics This is the class in which students get to leave behind the big picture for a while and pull out the microscope to study their scenes in great detail. Using short excerpts (3-5 pages) from screenplays they have already written – preferably from their thesis scripts – students will focus on emotional progression, dialogue, action, character logic and motivation, scene beats, tone and tonal shifts, writing style, subtext, events, and transitions, in order to revise their material.

    During the first half of the course, a different type of scene will be covered each week, and sessions will consist of a combination of reading scenes aloud, critique, in-class assignments, lecture, and watching film clips. Actors will be brought in for the second half of the course to do cold readings of scenes and to provide their unique perspective on character development, motivation, and beats.
  • Screenwriting Discipline & Methodology Goal-setting, project planning, time management and project management skills are essential for the creative artist. It is crucial for screenwriters, and all create artists, to have the discipline to meet deadlines (especially self-imposed deadlines) and the tools and skills to complete the tasks they set. This course will explore different methodologies and the best resources for students to uncover the tools they need to meet and exceed their goals. Students will also meet with successful industry professionals during special guest lectures to uncover their tools and techniques.
  • Advanced Thesis Workshop II: Film Option This course continues where Thesis Workshop I left off. It will focus entirely on the rewriting process. This course will teach students to dig more deeply into their stories than most of them ever have. Through workshop and discussions, students will gain the insight they need to execute a rewrite and polish of the scripts they wrote last semester. Upon completion of this course, students will learn how to spot the things in their scripts that aren't working, develop a game plan for fixing them, and execute that game plan. We will focus on identifying and fixing structural problems as well as problems on the scene level. This semester is designed to build the skills of self-criticism, arguably the writer's most important tool.
  • Advanced Thesis Workshop II: TV Option The classwork consists of individual writing, reading aloud of student work in class, screenings, and workshop discussions. By the end of the first quarter, each student will have written a second draft of their pilot episode, a polished outline for Season One of their proposed series, a polished description of the show itself, and two polished, general outlines for subsequent episodes. By the end of the second quarter, each student will have a final, polished draft of their pilot script, and be ready to pitch it at the Pitch Fest. Television industry guests are also brought in to class, schedules permitting, to help students prepare for the professional world.
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