Creative Producing, MFA

Columbia has one of the few programs in the country that gives you the opportunity to not only learn the business of making films but also provides hands-on experience collaborating with other filmmakers on professional-level sets.

You’ll learn what makes a story worth telling as you navigate the financial and legal side of the marketplace. You’ll learn how to hire and work with talent as you gain experience with the day-to-day workings of both independent and industry film models. You’ll collaborate with students across programs and disciplines—cinematographers, directors, editors, music composers—to create thought-provoking narrative films.

Application Information

What to Expect Your First Year

In August, you’ll take our cinema “boot camp” class Introduction to Creative Producing, an immersive three-week workshop that covers foundational principles and technical skills through lectures and hands-on demonstrations and exercises. This workshop is deeply intertwined with the workshop for Cinema Directing students, as the two programs work closely together.

Over the course of the year, Creative Producing students and Cinema Directing students collaborate to make several films together, some based on a concept created by the director and some based on a concept conceived by the producer. You’ll have creative control and gain work-for-hire experience. In addition, you’ll deepen your understanding of the industry and film history through graduate seminars and a film screening series. At the end of Fall and Spring semesters, graduate faculty members will constructively critique your work through work-in-progress reviews.

What to Expect Your Last Year

You’ll complete two substantial projects for your degree requirements: a thesis film and a long-form narrative package.

In Long-Form Narrative Development, you’ll develop a slate of potential projects for a long-form narrative property (i.e., a feature-length film or TV series). You’ll be tasked with finding, developing and acquiring the rights to material, then working with a screenwriter to produce a first draft. In Long-Form Narrative Packaging, you’ll create a production package using the material conceptualized in Long-Form Narrative Development, giving a final pitch and oral presentation on multiple projects and corresponding selling strategies.

For your final courses of the program, you’ll head to Los Angeles, where you’ll be on a studio lot in direct contact with executives and craftspeople at every level of the Hollywood industry. Coursework covers everything from acquisitions to legal to distribution—all preparing you for your entry into the industry.

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

At Columbia, you’ll have endless opportunities to engage with our active, passionate film community. Here are a few examples of exciting initiatives that take place outside the classroom:

  • Doc Your World—A student-curated festival showcasing documentary works.
  • Cinema Slapdown—One film, two opposing views. Watch a screening of a well-known, polarizing film, followed by a refereed debate between someone who loves the film and another who hates it.
  • FrameWork—A series of student-produced video interviews that allow graduating students to talk about their filmmaking process.
  • University Film and Video Association (UFVA)—For those interested in teaching, we send several students each year to present creative work and participate in this international conference.
  • Film Festivals—Chicago is host to numerous renowned film festivals. Students are encouraged to submit their films as well as volunteer. 
What are my internship options?

We’ll help you find internships that link you to power players in the industry. You won’t just be getting coffee. You’ll be working face-to-face with working professionals who can mentor you and help you find jobs in the future.

See the Career Center website for more information.



Graduate Counselor
David Marts

Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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