Outstanding Screenwriting Training: University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX)
A selective and affordable program that admits seven students per year, UT Austin’s MFA in Screenwriting prides itself on keeping equal footing in both feature and TV writing, offering classes in the history of TV and media studies and claiming a second-to-none TV writers’ room where students are tasked with mapping out an entire season of a series, then shopping it around to networks. “We are expanding our TV program by offering more TV writing classes,” says Screenwriting Area Head Cynthia McCreery. “TV writer Felicia Henderson (Netflix’s The Punisher) joined our faculty last fall, and we’re thrilled to have her.” The program frequently flies out industry writers to speak to the students, and access to The Austin TV Festival, SXSW, and the Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Conference is routinely arranged, as are internships with such Austin moviemakers as Robert Rodriguez, Richard Linklater, and Terrence Malick. On gender balance, McCreery notes that “Our graduating class this year is literally three males and three females.”
Outstanding Cinematography Training: Oklahoma City University (Oklahoma City, OK)
“With today’s technology, the image only gets its start in the camera,” says Bryan Cardinale-Powell, OKCU Acting Chair & Associate Professor of Film. “Our students are encouraged to see the role of the cinemtographer from Previz through final cut: How can decisions made early in the process contribute to the finished film?” Practically speaking, that calls for a teaching emphasis that goes beyond cinematography basics like camera movement and composition to modern de-mands like image manipulation in post: color grading, compositing, and VFX. Cardinale-Powell encourages “stretching the boundaries of image creation” through digital means, although he hastens to add that some OKCU film faculty still hold tight to traditional celluloid, and an Experimental Film Club has sprung up for those who like to shoot 16mm as an extracurricular activity.
Outstanding Theory and Criticism Training: Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)
Outstanding Theory and Criticism Training: Brigham Young University (Provo, UT)
BYU offers “a healthy foundation of critical studies supporting a framework of production opportunities,” according to Darl Larsen, Professor of Theatre and Media Arts in an overarching department called the BYU Center for Animation. As the name suggests, the center offers an animation-centric spate of coursework and state-of-the-art lab tools for future animators, while students can also take courses in film theory and media history. Those on a production track will cover all aspects “from pre through post” and have access to the latest cameras, production equipment, and software. This fall, BYU media arts students can select a course called “Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Film and Lit,” where they’ll read Cormac McCarthy and Richard Matheson and discuss sci-fi film classics ranging from Things to Come (1976) to Mad Max: Fury Road. Larsen adds that his fluctuating student population is currently 56 percent male, 44 percent female.