Screenwriting for Film & Television

Careers

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Trai Cartwright, MFA headshot
Screenwriting Concentration Faculty
Phone: 970.943.2298
Office Location: Taylor Hall
J S Mayank, MFA headshot
Director, Screenwriting Concentration
Phone: 970.943.2163
Office Location: Remote

Courses

For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

 CRWR 600 - MFA ORIENTATION III (1 cred.)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with non-residency mentors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit.

 CRWR 600 - SUMMER ORIENTATION MFA I (1 cred.)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with non-residency mentors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit.

 CRWR 600 - SUMMER ORIENTATION (1 cred.)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with non-residency mentors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit.

 CRWR 600 - SUMMER ORIENTATION MFA II (1 cred.)

Focus on learning mastery of online tools, attending faculty and student readings, and meeting with non-residency mentors during first summer; focus on attending presentations and participating in workshop sessions during second summer; and focus on presenting student thesis as well as attending and participating in other readings during third summer. Must be repeated three times for credit.

 CRWR 661 - FILM HIST ANAL:VISUAL NARRTV (2 cred.)

Focus on examination, analysis, and discussion of classic and contemporary films from a screenwriting, story, and character development perspective as well as analyses of theme and motif. Students engage in writing activities and exercises to develop a visual narrative style. All such writing goes towards creating material to fuel the mentoring process in upcoming semesters. The main theme here is: when possible show the story element; don’t have a character say it. Finally the prevailing three- and four-act screenplay structures will be explored.

 CRWR 662 - STRY CNFLICT CHAR GENRE SCRWRT (2 cred.)

Focus on workshopping of short screenplays and projects along with exploration of story arc, elements of conflict, character development and arc, with an emphasis on film genre choices and styles. Includes proposals for upcoming mentoring semesters, feature-length screenplays, plus an opportunity to practice pitches.

 CRWR 663 - SCRNWRTG COMP REP THE OPTION (2 cred.)

Mock or actual 'pitch' sessions of the thesis screenplay. Screenwriting contests researched and entered. Writers Guild guidelines and application explored. Agents, options to produce, and independent film potential also explored.

 CRWR 665 - SCREENWRITING GENRE (6 cred.)

Focus on challenging students to write filmic stories in three distinct genre categories, forcing a growth and flexibility to create meaning across a spectrum of setting, time, and circumstance. Dialogue is permitted but is de-emphasized in favor of a more visual narrative.

 CRWR 668 - TELEVISON DRAMA AND SIT COMEDY (6 cred.)

Focus on a thorough proposal for both the drama and sitcom is researched and written. The result will be a complete “pitch” portfolio including a “spec” episode teleplay completed for (both or either) a television drama (and/or) a situation comedy.

 CRWR 671 - WRTNG THE 1ST FT-LNGTH SCRNPLY (6 cred.)

A thorough review of the existing works in the style and genre of the proposed piece, and a thorough treatment written. Students generate character biographies and a complete story outline. The production is 'pitched' to fellow students along with the mentor. A first draft written and critiqued.

 CRWR 675 - WRITING THE TV PILOT (6 cred.)

Focus on choosing and writing an original TV pilot for either a one-hour drama series, or a half-hour sitcom. In addition to the pilot script, this course requires the students to pitch the idea, come up with marketing materials – i.e. treatment for the series, outline of the pilot, a series “bible,” and loglines for at least 4-5 future episodes.

 CRWR 678 - ADAPTATION (6 cred.)

Focus on taking preexisting source material (books, newspaper articles, videogames, graphic novels etc.) and learn how to begin adapting such into a screenplay. Students examine various forms of adaptation, write a research paper, and write the first act of their own feature adaptation piece.

 CRWR 690 - SCRNWRTG MSTR'S CAPSTONE PRJ I (6 cred.)

Focus on a feature-length screenplay, intended for Hollywood or independent production, proposed including a thorough review of the existing works, treatment, character biographies, and generation of a complete story outline. A first draft of approximately 120 pages written and critiqued.

 CRWR 691 - SCRNWRTG MSTR'S CAPSTNE PRJ II (6 cred.)

Focus on completion of the screenplay. Several drafts written and developed with the mentor. Following industry preferences, the screenplay should target approximately 100 pages.

 CRWR 694 - CAPSTONE PRJ I (3 cred.)

Culmination of the student's education at Western. In consultation with his or her adviser, the student completes a single work of genre fiction OR a collection of shorter genre fiction works (such as short stories or novellas) of publishable quality, suitable for public reading, and for thesis binding.

Film and TV are the most impactful modern storytelling mediums, and the demand for new voices is greater than ever. Western’s MFA and M.A. in Screenwriting are low-residency programs that equip our students with Hollywood standard writing methodology and insight into how this exciting business works. We believe in teaching our students how to find their place in this industry, elevate the norms, invite in the unexpected, and use this highly visual and theme-driven medium to shake up the world with their stories.

The Program

Western’s MFA and M.A. in Screenwriting is a low-residency program, meaning faculty and students interact online and through conference calls during the academic year and then gather for two weeks in July on the Gunnison campus for classes, lectures, readings, discussions, and of course, writing.

  • MFA students attend three summer residencies: one prior to the first semester, one between years one and two, and one in the third summer.
  • During the academic year, full-time MFA students take two courses each semester. These 6-credit courses make use of videoconferencing and the Blackboard platform for online work.
  • To complete the MFA, students work on a thesis throughout their final year. Completed theses are bound, registered, and placed on the shelves of Western’s Leslie J. Savage Library.
  • M.A. students pursue an identical curriculum to MFA students, but only come for two summers and one academic year. M.A. students do not write a thesis.

Opportunities and Partnerships

  • Portfolio built of two feature films, a TV pilot (Network/Cable/Streaming), a TV Spec and multiple shorts (in various Genres)
  • Intense focus on crucial development elements, structure and character build
  • Business and career plan coaching
  • Critical analysis and script coverage training
  • Instruction on cutting edge business, legal and getting into production 
  • One-on-one mentorship and class workshops, online and in person
  • Intimate workshops with visiting artists during the summer residency
  • Robust alumni association and support
  • Ability to take a course from the program’s other concentrations: Genre Fiction, Poetry, Nature Writing, and Publishing.
  • Ability to add a second concentration to their degrees, allowing for unique combination degrees, such as Screenwriting and Genre Fiction or Screenwriting and Publishing.

Learn More

Reach out for more information about the program.

Michelle Wilk
Program Support Coordinator
Phone: 
Office Location: 
Quigley Hall 117

Related Programs

Genre Fiction

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Nature Writing

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Poetry

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Publishing

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Graduate Program in Creative Writing

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