Latest reviews

Alumni
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
Pros
  • faculty faculty faculty
  • course flexibility
  • incredible TV alumni network
  • talented and motivated peers
  • industry internship accessibility
  • student diversity
Cons
  • not totally a con, but self care is important while in any intensive program
  • scholarship opportunities exist, but expect to have student loans
I completed USC's MFA screenwriting program in 2018. I'm beyond happy with the education and mentorship I received. Within two months of graduating, I landed my first industry job as a showrunner's assistant on a Netflix drama series. Most of my peers (a total of 32 in my year) are currently employed – a handful in development, a few with features or TV pilots optioned, multiple TV staff writers (yes: multiple, right out of the gate), and a good number of assistants in TV writers' rooms (for shows on Netflix, the CW, CBS, ABC, and more). This follows in the footsteps of the year above mine.

These friendships are what I value most from my time at USC – we're reading scripts and giving notes in writers' groups, we're meeting up frequently for drinks and events, and we're landing each other interviews, connections, and jobs. Working in LA is never easy, but goals feel so much more attainable when surrounded by talented people striving for the same thing. Having intelligent friends who are eager to vouch on your behalf is a further reassurance.

The classes themselves were challenging and rewarding. I pursued a TV thesis track, but I'd say my classmates were split nearly 50-50 between TV thesis and feature thesis. We were forced to write many pages very quickly, and doing so was a crash course on how to generate content and develop a routine. USC allows for some course flexibility – I took a few production classes and was accepted into a size-capped mock writers' room class. The class developed and wrote a four-episode web series, which was produced, filmed, and edited by a companion production department course. We were able to build a large set on one of USC's sound stages, too, so we obtained solid set experience.

Peers of mine took courses on gaming, podcasts, idea pitching, editing, film analysis, directing comedy, interactive media... choral music... so while many courses in the track are solidified for you (for good reason), there is ample room to still forge your own path through the program. The curriculum also includes a business class your second year (covers management, agencies, entertainment lawyers, contracts, IP, fellowship applications...). Frequent lectures by successful screenwriters and producers were also helpful, most of which were only available for MFA screenwriters to attend (i.e., plenty of face time to ask questions and pick brains). Professors also invited working writer-friends to visit classes throughout each semester (and, while at public events asking for contact info is a HUGE no-no, these individuals often wanted to pass along their email addresses to connect further).

While some drawbacks to the program can include cost (there are great scholarship opportunities, but many students ended up without significant aid... the up-side is that the program's only two years), I would choose this program again in a heartbeat. As with any program, your enjoyment of any given class is dependent on other students and on whether you vibe with a professor. Professor diversity is also important to me, so I was personally happy to have an LGBT-identifying professor my first semester. Strides have been taken in recent years to increase diversity among professors even further, I believe. My classmates were an incredibly diverse group, too, which was one of the program's highlights for me.

Final note: the amount of MFA alumni who are working in TV is actually insane. The TV program at USC is pretty innovative (spec courses, pilot courses, pilot re-write courses, structure courses), and everyone in my class who graduated in pursuit of a TV writing career felt very prepared. The program also gave us face-to-face access to successful alumni or other mentors through various end-of-program events (some of which aren't even publicized on USC's website).

I would say my fingers hurt after writing such a lengthy review, but THEY DON'T. Thanks, USC, for preparing me for this moment.
Reviewer
Alumni
Last edited:
Septopus7
Septopus7
This review is so good, it's making me seriously jealous I likely won't attend! Thanks for being so through with your post, though!
panda
panda
Thank you! Working in TV is grad school 2.0 for me. Just always keep up the pursuit.
Alumni
4.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
3.00 star(s)
Equipment
1.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
1.00 star(s)
Pros
  • amazing lecturers
  • great network
  • great community
Cons
  • no assignments or film projects
  • no financial aid
I loved my time at the UCLA PP in Producing! Each night, a different lecturer from a different part of the industry comes in and gives a talk. If you have just moved to LA and want a thorough understanding of the industry, as well as some connections, this is a great program at a not too steep price (not cheap though!). This program offers some amazing guest lecturers. I got to meet and participate in Q&As with the VP of Current at NBC and an exec at Marvel, among countless others.

One of the lecturers of the program while I attended was a former exec at a network (and Academy Award winner), who became a great mentor to everyone in the class. He took the time to set up individual meetings with all of us so he could learn about who we are and what we wanted from the program. Even now, months after finishing the program, I still email him and ask him for advice.

You're told right away that the most valuable takeaway from the program is the community you build with your fellow students. We hung out regularly, touring movie studios and throwing parties together. We even participated as a team together at the LA 48 Hour Film Festival. I still am close with several people from the program. It's nice to not feel alone as you try to find you way into the industry.

Also, I am currently interning at the production company of one of the lecturers who came and spoke with us. I definitely wouldn't have gotten this opportunity if I hadn't been a student at the UCLA PP.

If you can afford the program (when I went it was $5500 for the ten week course), I highly recommend it!

(I rated the equipment as one star because there is no equipment for the program. It's all lecture based, with no film assignments.)
Reviewer
Alumni
Reactions: Chris W
Alumni
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
4.50 star(s)
Professors
4.75 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
4.50 star(s)
Pros
  • alumni network
  • location
  • low residency
  • female-centric
  • LGBTQ friendly
The Stephens MFA in Screenwriting is a incredible option for people who want a reputable MFA and still be able to hold a full-time job. I chose the MFA program because I wasn't in a position to leave work or move near a school I'd want to attend, but I still wanted to put in the work to get the degree. Through this program I was able to take only 10 days out of each semester to travel to LA for intensive classes, and then the rest of the year I could do my work on weekends and evenings.

The best part of Stephens (in any program) is the alumni network. Stephens alums are known for helping each other, and as a graduate of the undergrad film program I have been in many situations where alums I don't know have helped me out, from finding housing to getting job interviews. As the network continues to expand, this becomes more and more valuable. Not only will you be connected to alums, but your own class is an amazing resource. The people that are selected into the program are top notch, excellent people. You'll meet people you just enjoy being around, and that is so valuable for future working relationships. We all rise together.

The intensive takes place mostly at the Jim Henson studios in Hollywood. First of all, that alone is something to brag to your friends about. The lot contains so much history: from being built by Charlie Chaplin (you'll have lunch where Modern Times was filmed!) to Henson characters around every corner to the still-active Henson Recording Studios. It's the perfect place for classes, screenings, and meeting with mentors.

I only gave the program a few slightly-less-than-perfect scores, and I imagine they are flaws in any school: the professors and coursework can be a little inconsistent. As with any school, you get hard mentors and you get easy mentors. This can make it a little unfair when it comes to GPAs because they grade with different rigor. But, as someone who had one of the more difficult mentors, I can tell you that in the end you benefit from it and become a better writer. As for financial aid, it's pretty average. One great scholarship they do is for women over 55, which goes to show how much they care about their mission of getting under-heard voices into the industry.
Reviewer
Current Student
Reactions: Cd23
Alumni
5.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Equipment
5.00 star(s)
Coursework
5.00 star(s)
Professors
5.00 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
4.00 star(s)
As a member of the inaugural cohort, I was blown away by how incredible and influential this program is. It was phenomenal to spend two years of my life among such brilliant, hardworking, dedicated people - from instructors to mentors to fellow classmates. These are lifelong connections and friendships, providing support and encouragement long after graduation. You'd be hard pressed to find a more devoted group of people, chief among them the program's creator, Ken LaZebnik, aka The Nicest Man In Hollywood.

I can honestly say that I am not only a better writer because of the Stephens MFA program, I'm a better person. If you want to be a professional screenwriter, do yourself a favor and apply, Apply, APPLY!

Note: In the Ratings section, Career Assistance is listed as a 4 because of two things:

1. As a relatively new program, they are still working out official opportunities for things like internships, which can be found in a lot of more established writing programs. HOWEVER, the personal support and attention you receive from Stephens is Unparalleled. You will not be lost in a sea of alumni and current students. You will know with all your heart that you and your work Matter, and that your professors and mentors are there to bolster and promote you in every way possible.

2. A lot of this work is up to you. You will have to hustle. And write. And rewrite. And hustle some more. And write until you think your hands will fall off, and then go out and hustle, again. Yes, access and opportunity are essential, but you cannot rely on anyone other than yourself to build a successful career. Fortune favors the prepared, and that preparedness is yours and yours alone.
Reviewer
Alumni
Last edited:
Reactions: IDEK and Cd23
Alumni
3.00 star(s)
Campus
5.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
5.00 star(s)
Equipment
4.50 star(s)
Coursework
4.50 star(s)
Professors
4.75 star(s)
Financial Aid & Scholarships
4.50 star(s)
Pros
  • Great location and environment
Cons
  • Some courses seem a little bit chaotic (not all collaborations are successful)
CCC is a great film school for many reasons: different levels of courses allows you to explore your preference for filmmaking step by step as well as teaching various aspects in film production process, so that you would gain lots of experience and become a professional in terms of thinking and executing. Professors there are great as they do respect students' ideas and who you are, and as a big school with students from all over the world they respect all the cultural differences. For cinema directing and many other courses, collaboration is the key as those courses allows you to get to know all the roles in film production. Other than production courses, film study courses such as World Cinema is also really fun to take.
It also has a great location near the center of the city, great traffic, and great view alongside Lake Michigan. Hope it helps.
Reviewer
Alumni
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