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Columbia College Chicago


The Screenwriting Program and Center have been established to:

  • To encourage the development of both short scripts and features;
  • To encourage the development of both students who plan to direct their own work and those who are writing scripts for others to direct;
  • To encourage the development of skills in generating, developing, implementing and revising story ideas into screenplay format.

In order to achieve these goals, we believe that creative self-discovery and the development of a personal point of view are essential tools. It is our conviction that the best films begin with scripts resulting from curiosity, human understanding and creative use of screenwriting techniques. We also believe that the best cinema stories are written with an awareness of the social context that has produced them.
Whether a student plans to become a Hollywood screenwriter or an Independent screenwriter, the film business is constantly evolving; our goal is to provide students with the understanding and skills to translate stories into both a cinematic and emotional experience for the audience.

To this end, the courses in the Screenwriting Program build upon three (3) primary concepts:

  • Personal Vision
  • Character-Driven Work
  • An understanding of Narrative Structure and its application to other film forms such as documentary and experimental.

Students interested in Screenwriting begin by taking Screenwriting I and from there may then take Adaptation and/or Screenwriting II.  Upon completion of Screenwriting II, they may take any of the advanced level screenwriting courses, which include specific Genres, Special Topics, Workshops, Comparative Screenwriting, Business of Screenwriting and/or Screen Treatment and Presentation.

Ideation and Theme is generally a junior or senior level course that serves as a portfolio review allowing students to examine all of their previous work for the patterns inherent in their stories, exploring their strengths and weaknesses. Students can then formulate a plan for creating a project that will further their potential for success in the professional world after graduation.  Their capstone experience may be either Script Development Practicum or Screenwriting 3, and students can complete their last 12 hours in the screenwriting curriculum either at Columbia in Chicago or in the Semester in LA program.