Master of Fine Arts

The Peter Stark Producing Program is an innovative two-year (four semester) full-time graduate program designed to prepare a select group of highly motivated students for careers as independent film and television producers or as executives in motion picture, television and new media companies.

A producer is the person who causes the film to be made. A good producer causes it to be made well.
- Lawrence Turman, Chair

Approximately 25 Peter Stark Program students are enrolled each Fall. There are no Spring admissions. The curriculum places equal emphasis on the creative and the managerial, in order to enhance and develop artistic skills and judgment while providing a sound background in business essentials. Each course is continually updated to ensure that the Stark program remains responsive to the needs of our students and the ever-changing motion picture, television and new media field.

Peter Stark Producing Program students collaborate on a 7-minute sound film.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 44 units of 400-level and 500-level courses is required for the Peter Stark Producing Program leading to the M.F.A. degree. There are no prerequisites. The department does not set the tuition cost or fees. Here is a link to the Estimated Costs for the 2013-2014 academic year. When calculating estimated costs for our program, please refer to the Graduate Cinematic Arts unit fee. Students are required to take a production course in their first semester.

CMPP 431a Producing Workshop (4 units) introduces the fundamental principles of motion picture production. Projects are shot using digital cameras and edited on AVID. Approximately $1,000 should be budgeted for miscellaneous expenses, including lab and insurance fees.

In CMPP 541b, second semester students work in teams to create two 7- minute films. Equipment is provided by the School. There will be lab and insurance fees for these two classes.

In lieu of a traditional thesis, the completion requirement is a film, television or web series project with a developed script, an attendant schedule, a budget plan and a marketing and distribution plan.

The completion of an internship of at least eight weeks duration is a graduation requirement. During the summer between the first and second year, the program seeks full-time paid internships for the students at film, television and new media companies. The program has been fortunate in securing paid positions in the past, but a paid position is not guaranteed. It is dependent on as many companies signing up in a given year as we have students. Students must be in good standing in the first year of studies to participate.

Required Courses

Year One, First Semester
Course Number Course Name Units
CMPP 541a Producing Workshop 4
Hands-on workshops in creative and physical filmmaking.
CMPP 550 Script Analysis for the Producer 2
Detailed evaluation of completed scripts and of the producer's role in bringing them to fruition.
CMPP 563 Producing Symposium 2
Lectures on creative and business aspects of producing for television.
CMPP 589a Graduate Film Business Seminar 3
Economics of the entertainment industry, including entertainment law and rights acquisition.
CMPP 501 Cinematic Arts Seminar 1
Introduction to an industry and art form in the midst of transformation, with guest speakers and Cinematic Arts faculty who will address new research and technologies.
    12

Year One, Second Semester
Course Number Course Name Units
CMPP 541b Producing Workshop 4
Practical experience in motion picture production as it relates to the producer.
CMPP 560 Script Development 2
From idea and story to finished shooting script.
CMPP 568 Producing for Television 2
Discussions of the creative and financial aspects of television producing.
CMPP 589b Graduate Film Business Seminar 4
Economic structure and history of the film industry, including entertainment law and studio management.
    12

Year Two, First Semester
Course Number Course Name Units
CMPP 561 Motion Picture and Television Marketing 2
Analysis and preparation of film and television marketing campaigns, from creative concept to targeting across various media.
CMPP 565 Scheduling and Budgeting 4
Concept and preparation of a complete schedule and budget.
CMPP 566 Finance 2
Seminar of financial aspects of both film and television industries and methods of financing films and television shows.
CMPP 571 Producing the Screenplay 2
Workshop for the creation and development of a screenplay or teleplay.
    10

Year Two, Second Semester
Course Number Course Name Units
CMPP 564 Digital Media and Entertainment 2
Exploring the effect of digital media on the entertainment landscape.
CMPP 569 Seminar on Non-Mainstream Producing 2
Discussions on non-major studio producing options, including non-traditional financing and non-theatrical producing.
CMPP 570 Advanced Television 2
Advanced studies of the business of television, including the economic structure of the television industry.
CMPP 592 Individual Project Seminar 4
Research project and seminars in related topics for thesis projects.
    10

Grade Point Average Requirements

An overall GPA of 3.0 (A = 4.0) is required for graduation. Courses in which a grade of C- (1.7) or lower is earned will not apply toward a graduate degree. A grade of C-, D or F in any course may be cause for termination.

Time Limit

Students must maintain satisfactory progress toward their master's degrees at all times. The degree must be completed three years after the beginning of graduate work at USC.