Descriptions of MFA Required Courses

Only courses at the 400, 500, or 600-level carry unit credit toward the Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting degree.

CTVA 500 – THEORY AND HISTORY OF CINEMA AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA (3) Prerequisite: Graduate status. Survey of the history of cinema and electronic media, as well as film and television theory, from the silent era to the sixties. Two academic papers are required.

CTVA 505 – CONTEMPORARY FILM ANALYSIS (3) Prerequisite: Graduate status. Exploration of screen story structure and the screenwriting tools of dramaturgy used in contemporary motion pictures to impact audiences emotionally and intellectually. Effective story outlining paradigms are investigated, and story strengths and weaknesses are analyzed. Written film story structure analysis assignments are required.

CTVA 510 – SCREENPLAY SCENE WRITING (3) Prerequisite: Graduate status. Investigates the techniques and dramatic tools used to write powerful scenes for the screen. Emphasis on the creation of fully dimensional characters, use of visual elements, tempo, timing, descriptive style, and dialogue. This workshop course is product-oriented, and students complete a screenplay project.

CTVA 525 – SEMINAR IN SCREENWRITING (3) Prerequisite: CTVA 510. Focuses on mastering the tools of screen story structure for outlining and writing feature-length motion pictures. Demonstrates how, in visual storytelling, character is revealed through behavior, and how good plotting means communicating with viewers about character development through progressive, linking story actions. This lecture and workshop course is product oriented. Students create and polish a detailed story outline and treatment for a complete, original feature-length film, and write the early pages of the screenplay that will be completed and rewritten in CTVA 625.

CTVA 595D – ONE-HOUR EPISODIC TELEVISION (3) Prerequisite: Graduate status. Investigates the creative development methods of one-hour dramatic television programs. Students are mentored toward writing a complete one-hour teleplay for episodic TV. This is a product oriented course that produces a polished TV writing work sample for each student.

CTVA 595F – SCREENWRITER PRACTICUM: THE BUSINESS OF FILM AND TV (3) Prerequisite: Graduate status. Study of the real-world working life of a screen or teleplay writer. How the filmmaking business is structured and how access is gained to agents, producers, and managers. Media literacy and ethics are addressed. Student skills at professional “pitches” are practiced. Development of the High Concept storyline is investigated, and the alternative independent film market explored. Will include presentations by top professional guest speakers in film and TV.

CTVA 625 – WRITING THE FEATURE SCREENPLAY (3) Prerequisite: CTVA 525. In this course, the treatment created in CTVA 525 will now be written as a feature-length screenplay. This is a product-oriented course.

CTVA 692 – THESIS SCRIPT PREPARATION (3) Prerequisite: CTVA 525. Instruction in the steps of thesis publication and individual guidance in developing original story ideas into full outlines for thesis screenplays. The first act of a feature-length thesis script is also written as preparation for final thesis completion and publication in CTVA 698C. This is a product-oriented course.

CTVA 698C – THESIS SCREENPLAY (3) Prerequisites: CTVA 692, 625, 525, 595D: Approval of Graduate Advisor. A complete feature-film thesis screenplay is written from the candidate’s project begun in CTVA 692.

(Other required courses and electives are listed above.)