As many of you know, I am (among other things) the Program Director of the low-residency MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen being offered by the New Hampshire Institute of Art. The program was launched this past June with our first 10-day residency in Peterborough, NH with an entering class of exceptionally talented students from NYC, Los Angeles, and Canada.
What I find most gratifying about the program is the wonderful (and I might even say amazing) progress our student writers are making on their projects this semester. At our June residency we discussed at length multiple story ideas for feature-length projects pitched by each student. Much give-and-take and idea sharing ensued and determinations were made as to which project each student would concentrate on as his or her major writing focus for the semester. The residency also included intensive course work, all of which in one way or another was geared to laying out the tools needed for strong story development. Then, at the end of the residency, each student was assigned a mentor for the semester–a faculty member who had been working closely with the student at the residency.
As the adviser for all the student writers, I’ve seen the exciting progress that’s being made. It’s clear at this point in the semester that all students will have a strong working draft of a feature-length screenplay completed by early December. Then, at the next residency that runs January 3-12, the scripts will be tested and given voice with actors. And another major project for the second semester will be analyzed and discussed with our faculty of established professional writers who will also be working with the students on expanded exercises and additional course work.
I’m delighted the way that the low-residency approach to the MFA works so well for writers–coming together with fellow scribes for intensive work for a short period and then going off into their own life to write with the guidance of a mentor. And I urge anyone reading this post to take a look at our website, and if you’ve been thinking about getting an MFA in playwriting and /or screenwriting to consider joining us. The application deadline for our January residency is November 28th. I can guarantee you’ll be embarking on an exciting journey.