On right, Alex Smith (MFA 1996) and twin brother Andrew on set of their WINTER IN THE BLOOD

Screenwriting is maybe the best-kept secret of the Michener Center’s top-ranked MFA and offers a unique opportunity to those interested in writing for film.  Our emphasis is, first and foremost, on writing and on immersion in a community of creative writers, while still providing access to film studies and production offerings.

We admit one or two screenwriters every year from the smallest applicant pool of our four genres, so for talented screenwriters, the odds of acceptance are exponentially higher than in fiction, say, where the pool is several hundred.  Our students take their core workshops with the several candidates admitted annually to the MFA in Screenwriting of U.T.’s Radio-TV-Film department, consistently ranked as one of the top 10 programs in the country.  They also have access to RTF’s television writing workshops, film production courses, classes in film theory and history, and are involved in professional development opportunities in RTF, such as student productions, industry consultants, and script development sessions.   Screenwriting candidates are encouraged to make dual application to both the MCW’s program and to the MFA in Screenwriting of RTF, and can contact our graduate coordinator for information about how to do this.

Not surprising, fully half of the MCW alums working in film or television in L.A. today were fiction writers who learned screenwriting as their secondary field.  With three years support and focus on writing craft, our students are truly able to develop the art of storytelling:  learning narrative strategies for film, mastering structure through script analysis, exploring character development, and adapting material from other sources.  They can expect to leave the program with a portfolio of scripts suitable for submission to agents, production companies, and fellowship contests, and they will also benefit from their exposure to writing in other genres.  Iron sharpens iron, is how one alumnus described the experience of sharing classes with talented writers working across genres.

Austin is also home to two major annual film festivals:  the Austin Film Festival each fall, the only one of its kind focused primarily on the screenwriting craft, and the SXSW Film and Interactive media festival each spring.  Volunteer opportunities and internships with these festivals are available to screenwriters.