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Finding the Best Film School for Screenwriting

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/28/2010

Here is a look at the top Masters of Fine Arts Programs in Screenwriting.

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    Put on Paper

    Screenwriting really is a complicated craft, not simply an art form. The ability to tell a story in a structure that can be communicated through film or television and do it in a way that will allow you to make a career out of it in the contemporary media market is incredibly difficult, and only the most adept can do this without a little guidance. Screenwriting is best developed in a situation where you do not just sit and copy down what a teacher has to say, but instead actually take guidance from other creative people. In this way, they work with you so that you do not just remain inside a strict map of how a script is written and can actually flourish in this unique medium. A graduate program in screenwriting is perfect for this, and here is a look at the best film schools that will allow you to focus in on screenwriting.

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    1. Loyola Marymount University

    Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television holds one of their graduate programs as a Feature Film Screenwriting Masters of Fine Arts degree, which means that it maintains a final thesis focus. Loyola Marymount's film school has been well known for their screenwriting program, partially because of their screenwriting specific facilities and because of the quality of their screenwriting alumni that are working in the film industry. As a graduate screenwriting student at LMU you will get a basic understanding of film production, will have some film studies seminar courses with the rest of the film school, and begin focusing on project oriented screenwriting classes. This will all culminate with professional bridges through internships and work on a large advanced project.

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    2. American Film Institute

    The American Film Institute Conservatory is considered one of the best film schools in the world and breaks down their education into discipline specific programs. All the disciplines, which are broken down into things like cinematographer and director, are teamed together to produce projects. The screenwriting discipline is among the best with a very serious project focus, the ability to have a lot of material prepared to show or sell once they are finished with the Masters of Fine Arts program, and through the AFI Showcase you can have your scripts distributed to industry professionals. What is great about the AFI's program is that you will actually write a feature script by the end of your first year, which means that you are not just spending your time focusing only on class projects, but are also really engaging in professional level work.

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    3. UCLA

    UCLA has one of the most notable film schools and their MFA program for Writing For Screen and TV Video is one of the best in the country. Since it is one of the top film production schools that has an encompassing program, you will receive a whole education of how the industry runs and how you are going to work with it. The concept of narrative story structure is learned in detail at UCLA and you will also get deeply involved in pitching, the economics of screenwriting, how to adapt, and almost every other aspect of becoming a professional in the field. UCLA is also going to be cheaper than many of the other screenwriting graduate programs, especially if you are a California resident.

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