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Current Screenwriting MFA at Chapman AMA

Current Screenwriting MFA at Chapman about to finish my first year (!!!). Feel free to ask me questions about the first year, being in Orange/Southern CA (I'm actually living L.A. and have been for about a decade, so I am/was commuting), how it's working during COVID or anything else that comes to mind.
 

jwel98

Member
Hey thanks for doing this! I just committed to Chapman last week and I’m really looking forward to it. How many Screenwriting students are in the program? Is there a lot of collaboration between directing/producing students? Have you gotten a sense of how supportive Chapman is for students looking for an internship?
 
They max out at 20 per year. Right now have 18 (two left the program earlier in the year). There's a lot of collaboration during 1st year. One of your first classes is basically writing short scripts for Directors to produce, in a good way. (3 page scripts that get produced during the first semester an 8 page scripts that get produced 2nd semester). That class is mixed with writers, directors and producers (though that might be changing a little).

After first year, directors are allowed to write their own, but they can choose to work for a writer. Also for their thesis, producers have to option a new script and that usually ask the writers, although some producers write their own. (by the end of first year, you'll have at least one finished script).

They are generally speaking very supportive with finding internship, since it's required. That's one of those things that got weird with COVID, cause screenwriters are supposed to do theirs over the summer (you can do it whenever, but DON'T do it first semester). Obviously that's not happening, or at least not like it's supposed to, and they haven't figured out exactly how all of that is gonna work yet, which is understandable.
 

jwel98

Member
They max out at 20 per year. Right now have 18 (two left the program earlier in the year). There's a lot of collaboration during 1st year. One of your first classes is basically writing short scripts for Directors to produce, in a good way. (3 page scripts that get produced during the first semester an 8 page scripts that get produced 2nd semester). That class is mixed with writers, directors and producers (though that might be changing a little).

After first year, directors are allowed to write their own, but they can choose to work for a writer. Also for their thesis, producers have to option a new script and that usually ask the writers, although some producers write their own. (by the end of first year, you'll have at least one finished script).

They are generally speaking very supportive with finding internship, since it's required. That's one of those things that got weird with COVID, cause screenwriters are supposed to do theirs over the summer (you can do it whenever, but DON'T do it first semester). Obviously that's not happening, or at least not like it's supposed to, and they haven't figured out exactly how all of that is gonna work yet, which is understandable.
Thanks for all the answers! How have online classes been going? Do you feel like you have gotten anything out of them?
 
Absolutely. My professors have been awesome throughout this whole thing. They expect (within reason) the same amount of work we would be doing if it was in-person. And the screenwriters generally agree that the learning is about 80-90% the same as what it would be if we were in-person (as opposed to say directing students, who've had huge curriculum changes). It is NOT the same energy as being in the room and our professors know that. But I've gotten great feedback, we still read pages aloud, we still give notes, do revisions, etc. Actually having deadlines (even we don't make them) has been a great motivator. Even if it's not ideal, it's SO helpful to not write in a vacuum. We're doing a virtual tea and cake party for my last feature writing class (which has been the same group/professor since August, I'm honestly not ready to leave them lol).

Since the stay-at-home orders kicked right before spring break, I've both finished a screenplay and started a new one (an adaptation, currently page 21, set to be on page 30 by Monday). If there was a choice, I wouldn't pick this over in-person classes, but I'm definitely happy to have it.
 

jwel98

Member
Absolutely. My professors have been awesome throughout this whole thing. They expect (within reason) the same amount of work we would be doing if it was in-person. And the screenwriters generally agree that the learning is about 80-90% the same as what it would be if we were in-person (as opposed to say directing students, who've had huge curriculum changes). It is NOT the same energy as being in the room and our professors know that. But I've gotten great feedback, we still read pages aloud, we still give notes, do revisions, etc. Actually having deadlines (even we don't make them) has been a great motivator. Even if it's not ideal, it's SO helpful to not write in a vacuum. We're doing a virtual tea and cake party for my last feature writing class (which has been the same group/professor since August, I'm honestly not ready to leave them lol).

Since the stay-at-home orders kicked right before spring break, I've both finished a screenplay and started a new one (an adaptation, currently page 21, set to be on page 30 by Monday). If there was a choice, I wouldn't pick this over in-person classes, but I'm definitely happy to have it.
That’s awesome! I’m definitely a little wary about doing film school online even if it’s only for a semester, but it’s good to know that you’re still getting a lot out of it.
 

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