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llueve

Member
Supporter
Thought I'd start a thread for any and all Chapman MFA Screenwriting application questions.

My first question is about the Narrative Scene requirement. The prompt reads:

"Write a compelling dramatic scene based on this scenario:
Two people who are close experience a sudden calamity that changes their relationship."
Maximum 3 pages. Prose or screenplay format. "We are looking for the strength in your storytelling ability; there is no preference in format."

1. Do we think the 2 characters in question are the *only* characters allowed to be in the scene?

2. Do we think the "sudden calamity" has to happen during the scene (as opposed to happening right before the scene and the characters are discussing it / one is informing the other)?

3. I am assuming "dramatic scene" means very specifically drama, as in "do not write a comedic scene," but I'd be curious to know if anyone interpreted it differently.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
1. Do we think the 2 characters in question are the *only* characters allowed to be in the scene?

Based on instructions no. After all couldn't the third character BE the calamity?

2. Do we think the "sudden calamity" has to happen during the scene (as opposed to happening right before the scene and the characters are discussing it / one is informing the other)?

This seems more ambiguous and up in the air to interpretation. Either seem fine to me.

3. I am assuming "dramatic scene" means very specifically drama, as in "do not write a comedic scene," but I'd be curious to know if anyone interpreted it differently.

Yes this does seem like no comedy. That being said I always like to slip in a slightly funny moment in my dramatic material. (I produce and edit for TV)
 

marianass45

Member
Supporter
Hey 😄

First, good luck with your application! I'm applying for Chapman Fall 2021 as well!
Second, I think Chris answered pretty much what I thought about when I read it!
(I actually think comedy is my forte, so when I read "dramatic scene" I assumed the same as you and that got me a little nervous hahahahaha)

I have a question about this prompt as well!
As a non-native English speaker, I some doubts about the word calamity.
Does calamity mean that something necessarily bad/negative happen? Or can calamity be a positive thing?

In Portuguese, my language, it means something bad, but I'm not 100% sure in English.
 

llueve

Member
Supporter
Olá! Vc é brasileira? Eu morei no Brasil oito anos quando eu era criança!
But English is my better language. I also wanted to make sure about "calamity", so I did look it up.
Answer: Yes. It's always a bad thing.

ca·lam·i·ty - noun - an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster.

"Disaster" is a good synonym. A calamity is something sudden and bad.

Boa sorte!
 

marianass45

Member
Supporter
Siiim, sou brasileira!
Nossa, que incrivel! Espero que tenha gostado do Brazil hahahaha

Thank you so much for your answer!
It'll definitely help me a lot to come up with these ideas.
This one is one of the writing samples I still have to write that is giving me a hard time!

Boa sorte também!! 😄
 

sabvan

New Member
Hi! I'm applying to this program as well. To your second question, I assume the calamity can occur before the scene, but also think there should be a lot of "evidence" or aftermath of the calamity within the scene to give it sufficient impact?
I ended up writing mine with the disaster occurring near the end, like the climax of a very small arc, but you can still see the Before, the Incident, and the After.
And yes, I agree it should be dramatic. But if comedy is your forte, I see adding comic relief to a dramatic scene potentially working in your favor!
 

llueve

Member
Supporter
There's an info session with Chapman Professors in Screenwriting this coming Monday!
Thought folks might be interested: https://go.chapman.edu/register/SWInfo2020

"This session will be hosted by Screenwriting faculty: Susan Isaacs, Leah Aldridge and James Dutcher. They will speak about our program, give general tips for writing, and talk about the industry for screenwriters.

• Monday, November 23, 2020 (5 p.m. - 6 p.m. PST)"
 
There's an info session with Chapman Professors in Screenwriting this coming Monday!
Thought folks might be interested: https://go.chapman.edu/register/SWInfo2020

"This session will be hosted by Screenwriting faculty: Susan Isaacs, Leah Aldridge and James Dutcher. They will speak about our program, give general tips for writing, and talk about the industry for screenwriters.

• Monday, November 23, 2020 (5 p.m. - 6 p.m. PST)"
Thanks! I just signed up for the SW info session. Also, where did you find the link? I only saw the general graduate info session on the MFA Screenwriting page.
 

llueve

Member
Supporter
Thanks! I just signed up for the SW info session. Also, where did you find the link? I only saw the general graduate info session on the MFA Screenwriting page.
I received an email with the link a couple days after starting my application. I don't think I would have found the event otherwise. I thought it would be useful for other prospective students to know it exists!
 
I received an email with the link a couple days after starting my application. I don't think I would have found the event otherwise. I thought it would be useful for other prospective students to know it exists!
Awesome. I attended the graduate info session yesterday and that was helpful, but both of our hosts were from different departments (editing and TV writing/Producing. Hopefully Monday's info session will be a little more in depth.
 
Thought I'd start a thread for any and all Chapman MFA Screenwriting application questions.

My first question is about the Narrative Scene requirement. The prompt reads:

"Write a compelling dramatic scene based on this scenario:
Two people who are close experience a sudden calamity that changes their relationship."
Maximum 3 pages. Prose or screenplay format. "We are looking for the strength in your storytelling ability; there is no preference in format."

1. Do we think the 2 characters in question are the *only* characters allowed to be in the scene?

2. Do we think the "sudden calamity" has to happen during the scene (as opposed to happening right before the scene and the characters are discussing it / one is informing the other)?

3. I am assuming "dramatic scene" means very specifically drama, as in "do not write a comedic scene," but I'd be curious to know if anyone interpreted it differently.
I reached out to Chapman regarding the Narrative Scene. Apparently the "dramatic scene" can be comedic. I initially wrote a dark/dramatic scene. But I'm going to go comedic since it reflects more of what I want to write.

Here's a snippet from Chapman's Admissions Coordinator:
1606238911233.png
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
I reached out to Chapman regarding the Narrative Scene. Apparently the "dramatic scene" can be comedic. I initially wrote a dark/dramatic scene. But I'm going to go comedic since it reflects more of what I want to write.

Here's a snippet from Chapman's Admissions Coordinator:
View attachment 2002
Awesome. Thanks for reaching out to them and letting us know what they said. :)
 

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