Screenwriting & Directing

The mission of the concentration in Screenwriting & Directing is to rigorously train storytellers in film, television, and digital media. This concentration is specifically for students who intend to immerse themselves in the art of both writing and directing, many of whom will go on to become writer-directors.

Students are exposed to the principles and working methods of a variety of genres and dramatic forms in both writing and directing. Through multiple exercises in both disciplines, short films, and script projects (both short and feature-length), students are encouraged to explore their understanding of the medium, with the ultimate goal of establishing each student’s personal voice as a writer/director.

The course of study at Columbia includes our shared first year, in which all students take the same core classes and have the same filmmaking assignments; and a second year of creative workshops and related courses, in both writing and directing. This is followed by thesis and Research Arts work. The Screenwriting & Directing concentration requires a minimum of three years, but can be extended to a fourth year by mutual agreement between a student and their advisor and with the approval of the Film Program Chair. The student’s work in the concentration culminates in the creation of a creative portfolio that will include many short films, feature screenplays, and television scripts. 

Students in the Screenwriting & Directing concentration share the first-year curriculum and some of the second-year electives with students in the Creative Producing and Writing for Film & Television concentrations. This facilitates the development of professional collaborations among students in the three concentrations, and fosters the environment of mutual support that we believe is essential to the creation of film. Many of these collaborative relationships will last well beyond film school.