Which school focuses on making indie films?/ Chapman MFA

charlottehuang

Member
Supporting Member
Chapman
Hello guys,
I applied plenty of schools this year but I’m only accepted by Chapman University (MFA in directing) which I know is a comparatively new schools among others.
The main concern is that I’m more interested in indie films than commercial ones. I am thinking about reapply this year, but I’m wondering which film school focuses on indie/ experimental more? Does Chapman Dodge puts more emphasis on commercial/indie films? Besides, I have heard that there will be some internship opportunities in Netflix offered by the Chapman, is that true?
 

thinksinprose

New Member
Chapman
Hello, I'm a current first year screenwriting MFA student. The answer (in my experience) is content-wise you can do whatever you want. Their focus is very much the quality of storytelling and making it visual. They will teach you what is commercial or how to format things to sell them, but it's not limited by that at all. Among the screenwriters, we've got horror, comedy, queer/trans narratives, romances, fantasy and family stories. There's a stories about the #metoo movement, about grieving parental loss, historical war stories and modern day China. Whatever we could come up with was fair game, as long as we could communicate what the story was.

That said, your first three directing projects (all during your 1st year) will NOT be written by you. The first one is from a set of stock scripts, the next two (a 3-page project and an 8-page project) are written by screenwriters.

You will have some choice of projects. For the first, among a small group of writers for the 3 page project (who you'll be in a class with), and all the writers for the 8-page, many with multiple scripts. (We have 18 screenwriters and 18 directors and there were about 40 scripts). For these projects, the faculty is very big on honoring the writers work/intentions. Obviously it's a creative/collaborative process, but don't expect to take an action script or even a script about loneliness and morph it into an indie rom-com cause you'll just hit a wall. So you're not necessarily going to direct your dream project off the bat.

That said, the 2nd and 3rd year, you can write your own stuff, or find a writer to work with if you've developed good relationships. A lot of people found people they clicked with and a bunch of cool/fun projects came out of those.
 

GaryCine

New Member
Supporting Member
Chapman
Just add to last comment. It also depends on what’s your definition of an ‘indie’ film, because the line is blurred in today’s market. ‘indie’ companies produce commercialised ‘indie’ film. There is an old discussion: miniplot and antiplot attract young writers and directors only because they’re not Hollywood. Young always falls into the trap of writing a screenplay that makes themselves feel like an artist. Something to consider.

I think opportunities are everywhere as long as you’re good enough. I know at NYU, the best school for writer-directors, Spike Lee served as producer and got a big deal for one of his students from Netflix, and each year he will give a student production 10 or 20k? out of his own pocket. But not every student receive that, you need to have something that attracts him.
 

charlottehuang

Member
Supporting Member
Chapman
Hello, I'm a current first year screenwriting MFA student. The answer (in my experience) is content-wise you can do whatever you want. Their focus is very much the quality of storytelling and making it visual. They will teach you what is commercial or how to format things to sell them, but it's not limited by that at all. Among the screenwriters, we've got horror, comedy, queer/trans narratives, romances, fantasy and family stories. There's a stories about the #metoo movement, about grieving parental loss, historical war stories and modern day China. Whatever we could come up with was fair game, as long as we could communicate what the story was.

That said, your first three directing projects (all during your 1st year) will NOT be written by you. The first one is from a set of stock scripts, the next two (a 3-page project and an 8-page project) are written by screenwriters.

You will have some choice of projects. For the first, among a small group of writers for the 3 page project (who you'll be in a class with), and all the writers for the 8-page, many with multiple scripts. (We have 18 screenwriters and 18 directors and there were about 40 scripts). For these projects, the faculty is very big on honoring the writers work/intentions. Obviously it's a creative/collaborative process, but don't expect to take an action script or even a script about loneliness and morph it into an indie rom-com cause you'll just hit a wall. So you're not necessarily going to direct your dream project off the bat.

That said, the 2nd and 3rd year, you can write your own stuff, or find a writer to work with if you've developed good relationships. A lot of people found people they clicked with and a bunch of cool/fun projects came out of those.
Thanks for your reply! It’s really helpful!
I am wondering whether we (directing students) will cooperate with other discipline students besides screenwriter? ex: cinematography, production design, or editing
 
Last edited:

charlottehuang

Member
Supporting Member
Chapman
Just add to last comment. It also depends on what’s your definition of an ‘indie’ film, because the line is blurred in today’s market. ‘indie’ companies produce commercialised ‘indie’ film. There is an old discussion: miniplot and antiplot attract young writers and directors only because they’re not Hollywood. Young always falls into the trap of writing a screenplay that makes themselves feel like an artist. Something to consider.

I think opportunities are everywhere as long as you’re good enough. I know at NYU, the best school for writer-directors, Spike Lee served as producer and got a big deal for one of his students from Netflix, and each year he will give a student production 10 or 20k? out of his own pocket. But not every student receive that, you need to have something that attracts him.
I see! thanks for your sharing!
 

thinksinprose

New Member
Chapman
Thanks for your reply! It’s really helpful!
I am wondering whether we (directing students) will cooperate with other discipline students besides screenwriter? ex: cinematography, production design, or editing
Yes! All your projects will use the cinematographers, sound designs and editors, you'll also have quite a few classes with them. You'll get producers and production designers starting 2nd semester with your 8-page project. (The producers and production designers work on 2nd year projects their first semester, then 1st year projects 2nd semester)

You'll have work with other directors as 1st ADs and the Television Writing/Producing students as Unit Production Managers. It's all very collaborative.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
Hello, I'm a current first year screenwriting MFA student. The answer (in my experience) is content-wise you can do whatever you want.
Great post!!! :) Have you thought about doing an AMA post if you haven't already?

 

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