Motion Pictures, M.F.A.

Graduate Program

About the Program

Study film production, producing and screenwriting with an innovative and independent streak. 

The M.F.A. in Motion Pictures guides students to advance their technical proficiency and critical thinking while learning innovative narrative skills.  Students are encouraged to concentrate in more than one area of specialization: production, producing and/or screenwriting.

The M.F.A. in Motion Pictures program offers a comprehensive curriculum in the creative uses of technology for narrative and documentary creation, positioning students with the business practices needed to bring their work to the expanding marketplace.


For a complete list of courses, please visit the UM Bulletin website at

Directing the Actor

The purpose of this course is to teach and practice the craft of directing, including text analysis, characterization, visualization, design, intention and rehearsal: to train students to articulate their ideas to actors and film crew.

Directing the Camera

An introduction to directing actors in low budget, independent films utilizing traditional, modern and evolving directorial techniques used by independent and traditional film makers: analyzing and orchestrating scripted material, developing a directorial concept, creating indelible characterizations, building a visual image, auditioning and casting the talent, blocking and directing the untrained amateur or highly skilled professional actor.

Documentary Production

An introduction to the documentary genre including the production of a documentary from start to finish.

Film Directors

This course will address the conditions of authorship in film through an intensive study of the films of two or more directors, whose careers will serve as case studies. These directors will be historically important and their work will represent significant achievements in the art of film.

Media Activism

In this course, students will examine the role of media in shaping social reform to document social issues such as poverty, human rights, social inequities, the environment, and powerless groups. We will review the philosophy and history of media as activism ranging from photography, documentary, cinema, the Internet, social media and newer forms of media. Emphasis is placed on developing a critical understanding of current media advocacy practices with a conscious goal; awareness, change minds, to affect policy, and action. At the end of the semester, students will have a fully developed project concept.

Narrative Production

An introduction to film and digital production techniques on narrative projects. Emphasis on collaboration, group process and social purpose. Students will be expected to produce a short film abroad as part of this course.

Production Management

A comprehensive examination of the skills and techniques employed by line producers and production managers in the preproduction, production, and post-production of motion pictures.

Sound Design

Sound Design through seminar and workshop provides a practical and theoretical introduction to sound and its function in the narrative moving image process. The course utilizes professional environments to instruct in the basics of sound editing, studio recording and mixing as it is practiced in the film industry. It will also present the aesthetic use of sound and its integral part in the moving image narrative process.

Special Topics in Motion Picture

This course subject matter varies according to announced special topic. See class schedule for details.

Writing for Series Television

Advanced examination of the techniques and elements of television writing. Focus is placed upon both the situation comedy and the dramatic series.

Showcase Your Talents

Students studying Motion Pictures at the School of Communication have endless opportunities to showcase their talents to the world. From film competitions to showcasing work on the big screen in Los Angeles, the avenues of experience are endless.

Featured Projects

A few of our motion pictures projects, all done by our very own students and faculty.

Ready to take the next step?