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Screenwriting – MFA in Writing

Industry professionals may seek the MFA degree as the proper credential for teaching at the university level. Screenwriters who have already had a full-length production of their work may apply for an accelerated course of study. Promising new screenwriters are equally welcome in the Spalding MFA program.

Our screenwriting faculty includes critically acclaimed writers who are making a difference with engaged, thought-provoking work—both in their productions and out in the world. Helena Kriel has packaged her latest full-length feature, Rhino, with Sunu Gonera attached to direct—a passion project that springs from her boots-on-the-ground conservation work in South Africa. Larry Brenner is known in Hollywood for his deep knowledge of all things comic book and pop-culture. Gabriel Jason Dean draws on a family heritage of “ministers, murderers, rebels, addicts, closeted queens, soldiers, singers and blue-collar mill workers.” Several work in both film and plays.

All are actively writing screenplays and TV scripts, keeping both their craft and their teaching fresh and inspired. Visit our faculty page to read more.

A statement by our screenwriting faculty distills their approach to teaching:

Our screenwriting program encourages you to develop your voice and hone your craft. From very short to feature length, from thrillers to art films, from fantasy to documentaries, from comedies to tragedies, you are encouraged to experiment as a screenwriter. Our prizewinning screenwriting faculty members come from both coasts, and their teaching styles reflect both an independent and more commercial sensibility. They have expertise and production credits in feature film writing, short films, TV writing and web series.

We are a small program whose students and alumni consistently win and place in contests against the behemoths of MFA programs and the world at large.

Alums hold industry positions at Disney Junior, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Marvel Animation and elsewhere. They have sold full-length features to Disney, Universal and TriStar; television episodes have aired on the Disney Channel. Their scripts have been named to the Black List, Blood List, and Hit List, and they’ve won national and international awards, including the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival’s international screenwriting competition. They also teach writing at the university level.

For a conversation between a screenwriting mentor and a mentee who works in the industry, read “Tapping Into the Forever Empty: A Conversation.” For more alumni successes, see our blog post The Little Dramatic Writing Program that Could.

Past visiting screenwriters include:

  • Academy Award winner John Patrick Shanley (MoonstruckDoubt)
  • WGA Award nominee Sheila Callaghan (executive producer, Shameless)
  • Academy Award winner Bobby Moresco (Crash)
  • Academy Award nominee Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone)
  • Golden Globe nominee (screenplay) and Tony Award-winning playwright Doug Wright (Quills)
  • Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman (’night, Mother)
  • Academy Award nominee Alec Sokolow (Toy Story)
  • Kevin Willmott (Chi-Raq)
  • Sabrina Dhawan (Monsoon Wedding)
  • Archie Borders (Pleased to Meet Me)