Take the Leap into TV with Our Unique M.F.A. in Television Writing and Producing
August 15, 2017
We keep hearing about movie actors making the leap to TV, from Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Kevin Spacey, Jane Fonda, Matthew McConaughey, Susan Sarandon and a host of others. And so many film directors have made the move as well; David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Guillermo del Toro, Baz Luhrmann and Spike Lee, etc., are also working in series TV. Why? Because the secret is out: The best dramatic writing is now on television.
Beginning in 1999 with The Sopranos and continuing with masterpieces that include Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, Modern Family, This is Us, Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies, Dear White People, Stranger Things, just to name a few. Whether you’re interested in comedy or drama, series that last for years or just one season on broadcast, cable or online – and with more than 450 original series in production in 2017 – the opportunities for television writers has never been better.
So, if you’re someone who recognizes names like Shonda Rhimes, Vince Gilligan, Aaron Sorkin, Jill Soloway, Jenji Kohan, David E. Kelly, Mitchell Hurwitz and Larry David, chances are you’re interested in writing for television.
To address the demand for, and interest in, creating content for television, Dodge College has created an M.F.A. in Television Writing and Producing, enrolling fall 2018. In this first-of-its-kind program you’ll develop your own artistic voice as you write “spec” scripts, create and write an original pilot, shoot scenes from your work, and get hands-on practical experience all under the direct supervision of our esteemed faculty.
What distinguishes this new M.F.A. program from others is the approach. “Our uniquely collaborative program teaches you every step of the way – from staff-writer to showrunner,” says James Gardner, Professor and Director of Television Studies.
Students will have the opportunity to intern with some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, management companies, literary agencies and production companies, in addition to having access to career resources and events through Dodge College and Chapman’s Career Development Center.
“When you graduate you’ll have a portfolio of scripts and the expertise to propel you from the classroom straight to the writers’ room,” adds professor Bill Rosenthal.
We invite you to tour our state-of-the-art sound stages and television studio, sit in on writers’ workshops, speak with our program faculty, or participate in an online informational session, dates and times available here.
For more information on the program, and to apply, visit our website.
Meet the Faculty:
James Gardner is Director of Television Studies, Associate Professor, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, Chapman University. Holding degrees from the Yale School of Drama (MFA in Directing), American Film Institute (Directing) and the University of Pittsburgh (MA in Theatre and BA in Writing), Gardner is a director and producer for television and theatre. Television directing credits include episodes of COACH, MY SISTER SAM, BABY BOOM, DEAR JOHN, FAMILY MAN, THE POPCORN KID, McGEE AND ME, EVERYTHING’S COMING UP ROSIE, THE BAND, and GREAT DECISIONS. He has produced and directed productions for the Alley Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, Tiffany Theatre, Friends and Artists Theatre and the Bermuda Festival. He was the founding artistic director for Pittsburgh’s Soho Repertory Theatre, producing artistic director of Red Barn Theatre and artistic director of the Ensemble Company for the Performing Arts. Most recently he directed GOOD KIDS for Chapman University’s College of Performing Arts.
Before coming to Chapman University, Gardner was for five years Director of Television Studies at The Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. He has also taught at American Film Institute, Cal Arts, UCLA, Carnegie-Mellon University, University of Texas (Austin), Cal State Northridge, Cal State Poly-Pomona, Catholic University of America, University of Pittsburgh, Community College of Allegheny County, and Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. Gardner has been affiliated with the New York Television Festival since its inception as a judge, panelist, moderator, and artist. Eight dramas he has produced have been honored as finalists in the Independent Pilot competition, with UNIVERSITY PLACE being honored as a winner in 2005. Gardner is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a 2009 ATAS Faculty Fellow. He is a proud member of the Directors Guild of America.
Steve Hirsen has more than 30 years experience in TV production. He is best known as the director who launched two of the most popular series in television history. Director of 11 seasons of the hit series America’s Funniest Home Videos, he was one of the creators of the popular series Entertainment Tonight and its Emmy Award-winning director through its first three seasons.
With Hirsen’s early career focused almost exclusively in live news, he directed the CBS Evening News Western Edition and coverage of major live events for CBS News. Hirsen also directed live coverage of the Winter Olympics for ABC and earlier worked for NBC in Washington, D.C., where he directed local news and worked on programs including The NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press and The Today Show.
Hirsen’s producing and directing experience includes many other genres including talk, sports, award shows, children’s shows, comedy, variety and music. He lives with his two daughters in Sherman Oaks and when not teaching or in a Hollywood TV control room, he can likely be found on a tennis court.
Bill Rosenthal is a writer, creator, and producer of television and online series. He has been a staff writer to “showrunner” and every writer/producer position in-between. He has written comedy, drama and animation. His most recent credits include co-executive producer of FX’s comedy series, Saint George starring George Lopez, co-executive producer of Showtime’s Emmy winning series, Nurse Jackie and the creator and writer of AOL’s Greetings From Home, a web series funded by Michael Eisner that since its launch has had more than three million visitors. “I always knew I wanted to be a television writer; in fact, I wrote my first spec script when I was 15 (an episode of Rhoda) and pitched a game show to NBC when I was 17. It’s amazing I wasn’t beat up more than I already was.”
In addition to his professional writing career, Rosenthal is a full-time faculty member at Chapman University where he teaches a wide variety of television courses. Bill has taught at UCLA, California State University, Fullerton, LMU and Columbia College Chicago. You can find quotes from him in the most recent editions of Martie Cook’s, Write to TV and Ross Brown’s, Create Your Own TV Series for the Internet. Or you can enroll in one of his classes and hear him go on and on (and on) about how writing is rewriting, and the importance of reading if you want to be a successful writer. Rosenthal earned his B.A. from University of California at Santa Cruz and his M.F.A. from Goddard College.
View the complete list of television faculty on our website.