Creative Producing (MFA)
Time to degree: two years (50 credits)
The Creative Producing MFA program at Columbia College Chicago allows students to learn the filmmaking business while collaborating with other filmmakers on professional-level sets.
Learn what makes a story worth telling as you study the financial and legal side of the film business. Hire and work with talent as you gain experience in the film industry. And collaborate with students across programs and disciplines—cinematographers, directors, editors, music composers—to create thought-provoking films.
In the Classroom
Your first class will be Columbia College Chicago’s cinema “boot camp” class, Introduction to Creative Producing. You’ll learn foundational principles and technical skills through lectures and hands-on demonstrations in this immersive three-week workshop.
In the first year, Creative Producing students and Cinema Directing students make several films together, some based on a director’s concept and some based on a producer’s concept. You’ll have creative control and gain work-for-hire experience. In addition, you’ll deepen your understanding of film history and the film industry through graduate seminars and a film screening series. At the end of the fall and spring semesters, graduate faculty members will critique your work.
For your final courses, you’ll head to Los Angeles, where you’ll work on a studio lot with executives and craftspeople in the Hollywood industry. Coursework will cover everything from acquisitions to legal to distribution, preparing you for your entry into the industry.
Thesis film and long-form narrative
You’ll complete two substantial projects for your degree requirements: a long-form narrative package and a thesis film.
In Long-Form Narrative Development, you’ll make a list of potential ideas for a long-form narrative (either a feature-length film or TV series). After choosing an idea, you’ll find, develop, and acquire the rights to material and work with a screenwriter to produce a first draft. In Long-Form Narrative Package, you’ll create a production package with the material conceptualized in Long-Form Narrative Development. You’ll end Long-Form Narrative Package with a final pitch and oral presentation backed by professional research and financing tactics.
Outside the Classroom
- Doc Your World: a student-curated festival showcasing documentaries.
- Cinema Slapdown: Watch a screening of a well-known, polarizing film or television show, followed by a moderated debate between someone who loves it and someone who hates it.
- FrameWork: a series of student-produced video interviews that allow seniors and graduate students to talk about their filmmaking processes.
- University Film and Video Association (UFVA): Students interested in teaching present their creative projects each year at this international conference.
- Film Festivals: Chicago hosts several renowned film festivals. Some festivals, like the Chicago Feminist Film Festival, are hosted on campus and organized by our students and faculty members. We encourage students to submit their films and volunteer.
Creative Spaces and Facilities
Meet a Current Student
Columbia College Chicago has produced many successful alumni. These alumni find work in the industry right out of college, and some have won Oscars, Emmys, and Golden Globes.
Here is a small sample of alumni success stories from our department:
- Len Amato ’75 is president of HBO Films.
- Ayanna Floyd MFA ’98 was coexecutive producer for the TV shows Empire and Falling Skies, and has writing credits on episodes of Empire, The Chi, Falling Skies, and Private Practice.
- Paul Garnes ’94 is a film and TV producer who served as Vice President and Executive in Charge of Production for the Tyler Perry Company, Vice President of Operations and Production for Jamie Foxx’s Foxx/King Productions, and executive producer of the Academy Award-nominated film Selma.
- Janusz Kaminski ’87 is a two-time Academy Award-winning cinematographer whose credits include Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Lincoln, and The Post.
- Declan Quinn ’79 has film credits as a cinematographer and director of photography for Leaving Las Vegas, 28 Days, and My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.
- Christian Sprenger ’07 is the Emmy Award-winning cinematographer for the TV shows Atlanta, GLOW, Baskets, and Last Man on Earth.
- Bob Teitel ’90 is a producer and writer whose credits include Soul Food, the Barbershop movies, and the Academy Award-nominated Mudbound.
- Lena Waithe ’06 is an Emmy Award-winning writer, actress, and producer for shows and films such as Dear White People, Bones, Master of None, and The Chi, and was named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2018.
- Annick Wokan ’05 is an associate producer on the award-winning TV show Game of Thrones.
Our faculty members are working professionals, filmmakers, documentarians, producers, and editors who stay up-to-date with industry trends and teach them in the classroom. They’re dedicated to giving you a real-world education, and they’re great resources for jobs and references after you graduate.