MFA in Screenwriting > Program Overview
The MFA in Screenwriting focuses on storytelling as the heart of the filmmaking process. As moving images proliferate across an ever wider range of platforms, the gifts of well-told, meaningful stories become ever more necessary.
Writers write to figure out what they know. At the heart of the MFA in Screenwriting is this passion for discovery. We challenge our students to master not only the body of techniques that define our craft, but also the currents of their own inspiration and the ideas that give their work meaning.
Screenwriting is a paradoxical art: like any form of writing it relies upon the writer's voice, yet here it is conducted within a commercial industry. Our program grounds itself within this dual reality, balancing intense seminars in screenwriting craft, with visits from industry guests, who in 2010 included writers Ken Finkleman (The Newsroom), Malcolm MacRury (Deadwood), David Shore (House, M.D), Producer Niv Fichman (Blindness, Hobo with a Shotgun, Passchaendale) and others. Of course, the faculty of our graduate program are themselves active and acclaimed writers and filmmakers. Located in the busy production centre of Toronto, our program of events reaches beyond campus to include Bell Lightbox, one of the hearts of global film culture.
Our enthusiasm for teaching is something we don't like to keep to ourselves. MFA Screenwriting students play an important role as teaching assistants in the courses offered in Canada's only undergraduate BFA in Screenwriting.
MFA Screenwriting students complete course work in screenwriting craft, including specialized courses in feature film and television writing, as well as courses in film studies, production, and in other disciplines. Along with other MFA and MA students, they attend bi-weekly Graduate Seminar 5400, with sessions focused on matters of scholarly, industrial, and practical import. In their first year they develop a thesis proposal, for a feature film or TV series, which they then go on to write and rewrite… and rewrite… under the close mentorship of a supervisory committee formed of screenwriting and other faculty. Our 2-day Graduate Symposium provides a mid-residency opportunity to orally present the thesis-in-progress to the body of grad students and faculty. Writing is often a lonely pursuit, but our Screenwriting MFA students form a part of a larger collegium of emerging filmmakers and scholars, and the exchange of ideas, sharing of work, and unexpected collaboration form a rich part of our program.