Summer Film Course | Television Writing Intensive

6 Points with Non-Credit Option
Instructor(s): Alan Kingsberg, Charlie Rubin, Scott Burkhardt, Michael Rauch, Syd Sidner and Jerome Hairston
For course schedule and location, please visit the School of Professional Studies summer site here.
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The TV Writing Intensive is a six-week, concentrated and encompassing introduction into the field of television writing designed to prepare students to join the professional worlds of half-hour comedies and one-hour dramas across network, cable and digital platforms. 

In an interconnected program consisting of two intensive writing workshops and a lecture series with guest writers and producers, students gain the knowledge and authority to explore, examine and create the kind of groundbreaking work that is taking over television here and around the world. 

Participants in The Television Writing Intensive learn about half-hour comedy and one-hour drama by writing and developing spec scripts and original pilots.  A spec script is a teleplay for an existing show where the writer brings original stories to existing characters.  A pilot is a script written for an original series that the writer creates. 

This intensive course meets 15 hours per week, on Mondays and Wednesdays for six hours during the day, and Thursdays for two hours. The times for the Thursday class are usually in the evenings but may vary based on the availability of guest speakers and other opportunities such as visits to live production sets.
Site visit to Royal Pains
Actor/Director Mark Feuerstein talks with students on the set of Royal Pains.
The TV Writing Intensive taught me the skills I needed to get an agent at CAA and get staffed on the A&E prime time show The RETURNED. And it was the most fun I had while still learning!
—Jessie Nickson Lopez, Columbia Summer ‘12
Columbia’s TV Writing Intensive helped me build the writing portfolio I needed to gain admission to NYU's Dramatic Writing MFA. The classes were invaluable. I continue to revisit my notes from that summer.
—Nina Bradock  Columbia Summer ’11; NYU MFA ‘15

Class 5B, the original pilot I wrote in the TV Writing Intensive at Columbia was one the 20 finalists (out of 2000 submissions) in NetLab, Brazil's biggest teleplay competition.
—Iuli Gerbase, Columbia Summer ‘14
The Pilot
3 hours, 2x per week, 6 weeks

Each student develops an original series concept and an accompanying pilot script. There is a focus on the pilot as both a successful episode and a blueprint for an ongoing series that has a strong enough premise to sustain dynamic stories for multiple seasons.

In a step-by-step process, students move from series concept to pilot stories, to outline and lastly to writing scenes. Both ½ hour and 1 hour series are covered. 

Additional course work includes weekly examinations and analysis of successful teleplays, well established series, and the role of the writer/executive-producer in the medium.

Daily Show writer Zhubin Parang talks about his work in the 2014 Writers Room class.        
The Spec
3 hours, 2x per week, 6 weeks

We examine the fundamental tools of the craft of television writing while developing a speculative script for an existing television series.

The course focuses on how to tell multiple original stories for established characters within a single episode. Key to writing a successful spec is learning how to deconstruct stories, define character missions and incorporate the established templates of an existing series. This task closely mirrors the job of a staff writer hired on a prime time TV show and informs the work that takes place in the Pilot class.

The goal of the course is to create a professional entry-level sample teleplay.

Additional work includes weekly examinations and analysis of successful teleplays and well-established series, and the role of the writer in relation to the series and its staff.

Site visit to Royal Pains
2014 TV Writing Intensive visits the Royal Pains set in Greenpoint Brooklyn.
The Writer's Room
3 hours, 1x per week, 6 weeks

Includes the following two modules:

1. MASTER CLASS – Inside The Writer’s Room

Taught by Executive Producer and Showrunner (Royal PainsBeautiful People), Michael Rauch.  Michael will break down how the writer’s room works at his hit show Royal Pains, which currently airs on The USA Network.  The three-session class will include a case study of one of the series’ best episodes, a mock writers room where the class will create a “new episode” of Royal Pains and a visit to the Royal Pains set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to watch a scene being shot.


A three-session class which will feature in-depth analysis of successful teleplays and series from that week’s guest lecturer. Guests will include working writers and producers from the field.  Past guests have included Jessi Klein, head writer on Inside Amy Schumer, Bryan Goluboff, co-executive producer of Blue BloodsWill Graham, writer and producer on Amazon’s Alpha House and Onion News Network and Zhubin Parang, writer on The Daily Show.

Admission to the Television Writing Intensive is competitive. The online application requires applicants to submit a writing sample (5-10 page excerpt from a screenplay, teleplay or sketch), a resume and a short one-page statement of intent about your background, qualifications and goals for the intensive.
Tuition & Fees
Students can review tuition and fees here.
Students are required to pay a $200 course fee in addition to Columbia tuition.
Limited housing in university dorms will be made available to students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students will be sent a link to the Housing application, once admitted to the course.
For questions about School of the Arts summer courses, including those concerning admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Professional Studies summer team at or 212-854-9666.
About the Instructors
Alan Kingsberg
Alan Kingsberg is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he won the Chester Kestler award for outstanding achievement at the Wharton Business School. He received his MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where his film Minors won an Academy Award as the top student film in the US. more

Charlie Rubin

Charlie Rubin has been a TV writer and producer for two decades. Recently, he spent 2004-09 as Supervising Producer of Law & Order Criminal Intent where he wrote ten episodes. Before that his career was mainly on comedy staffs: Seinfeld, In Living Color's first season, The Jon Stewart Show, and various pilots, including his own. more

Scott Burkhardt
Scott Burkhardt is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts where he received an MFA in Film. Scott was a writer on the NBC drama, Smash, and is currently a Consulting Producer on Men in Shorts, a comedy pilot for ABC/Universal TV. more
Michael Rauch
Michael Rauch, Executive Producer and Showrunner of the USA Network television show Royal Pains, starring Mark Feuerstein and Campbell Scott, has written, produced, and directed numerous projects in both film and television. more
Syd Snyder
Syd Sidner has taught screenwriting at Columbia, writing for television at NYU, theater at The Dalton School and theater and screenwriting at Northwestern University’s National High School Institute (NHSI). Sydney has an extensive background in screenwriting and theater. more
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.