The Film MFA Program in Creative Producing is a three-year film school program that takes advantage of Columbia’s unique geography at the center of the independent film world, with the mission of creating the next generation of producers.
The program emphasizes the role of the producer as the creative force behind a project, requiring business skills, the ability to form creative collaborations and an understanding of an ever changing marketplace.
Our faculty consists of working members of the New York and Hollywood filmmaking communities, who bring to the program a wealth of day-to-day practical knowledge in all areas of producing film and television including script development, finance, physical production, distribution and new technologies.
Students share a common first year with students in the MFA Film: Screenwriting/Directing program, reflecting the faculty’s belief that the best training for producers includes work in all of these disciplines. It also builds friendships and professional collaborations that last throughout the program and beyond, and fosters the environment of mutual support that we believe is essential to the creation of film.
Course of Study
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The first year courses include workshops in producing, directing, screenwriting, and directing the actor. Studio classes are comprised of about 11 students and the emphasis is on hands-on, process-oriented creative work.
The first semester culminates in a 3-5 minute film which each student writes and directs.
The culminating projects of the first year are 8-12 minute films. Each student directs a film, using a screenplay originally written by another student in the program. For each of these films, director and writer work together during the spring semester, with the guidance of several faculty members, to prepare the final script. Additionally, every student must act as producer on a film other than the one he or she directs. The films are shot over the summer after the first year.
A school-wide critique of all the finished films begins the second year of study. In the second year, students immerse themselves in courses whose primary focus is the producing of feature films, with the concurrent study of television and new media. They may also take courses in screenwriting, Columbia Business School and courses in other programs of the School of the Arts or throughout the University as electives. Every student must take at least one course in film history/theory/criticism prior to graduation.
The required 60 credits of course work must be completed in the first two years. In the third or thesis year, students must work on the production of at least three films, one of which is their thesis. Students are required to be the sole producer on their thesis film. Students are also required to complete an internship working for a production or distribution company.
Students in the thesis period are no longer taking courses for credit, but they meet regularly with their advisors for intense developmental work on their thesis ideas, take thesis preparation classes, and may take master classes with guest filmmakers. Topics regularly offered in master classes include contract law for producers, advanced post-production for producers, feature budgeting and scheduling. Shorter master classes are offered by a range of internationally recognized filmmakers.
Students leave the school with a portfolio of produced films, and in many cases a feature film project they have developed that is ready to be produced. Our graduates are highly employable, and enjoy a reputation as the most versatile and cutting edge of the current crop of young producers, cementing our reputation as one of the most comprehensive producing programs of any film school in the world.