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A Producer is the person who gets the project made. A creative and entrepreneurial self-starter, the producer has the talent for turning his or her artistic vision into a tangible product - and a good producer into a critical and/or commercial success. The Peter Stark Producing Program will expose an aspiring producer to the full spectrum of the entertainment business. Students will learn every step of the creative process, from development through distribution. Starkies discover and hone the creative, entrepreneurial, and managerial skills needed to succeed in their career path through classes in creating and developing stories, entertainment history, economics, studio management, budgeting, marketing, and independent producing. Starkies will know how to practically take a film, television or new media project from script to screen.

Stories

Legendary Producer Ray Stark Honored at SCA

Peter Stark Producing Program
Departmental Profile

Fourth Consecutive Starkie Awarded the PGA’s Debra Hill Fellowship

Peter Stark Producing Program
Program Profile

A long-form interview with the Chair of the Peter Stark Producing Program

Larry Turman
Faculty Profile

Student Stories

Carol Brown

Carol Brown
Peter Stark Producing Program '18

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Shawn Wong

Shawn Wong
Peter Stark Producing Program '18

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James Rogers III

James Rogers III
Peter Stark Producing Program '18

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Degree Programs

Graduate
Masters 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 producers and executives of film, television, and new media.

View Degree Requirements External Site

View Faculty External Site

Learning Objectives

MFA in Producing for Film, Television and New Media

  • Understanding the history and present realities of the entertainment industry landscape with understanding and awareness of the dynamic evolving nature of the field.  The faculty of working professionals brings up-to-date information and strategies to the classroom, enabling students to develop a current and savvy skillset, knowledge base, and network of contacts.
  • The primacy of ideas and story (the “Art”) is our focus.  We also teach how to navigate the business to bring your ideas to life (the “Commerce”).
  • Broad and deep practical knowledge of the profession of producing for the variety of arenas within the entertainment industry (features, television, digital media). plus, knowledge of other creative roles in content creation, thus enabling the students to choose a specific direction and also remain flexible and broadly-skilled.
  • Always practical, especially as it pertains to their own specific career path, including internship experience, individual and group projects (from short films to film and television show pitches) culminating in the conception, development and completion of an individual thesis project. 

Career Connections

Producing is an entrepreneurial endeavor, as is most of the entertainment business. Students must expect to exert considerable ingenuity and persistence to secure employment. Some jobs do come through contacts made directly or indirectly through the Peter Stark Producing Program, such as our graduates, our instructors and industry friends, or through initiatives like our mentor program or our internship advocacy.
 


One large family-friends, alumni and students of the Peter Stark Producing Program gathered for a group shot at the program's 25th anniversary celebration.
(October 2, 2005)

All second-year classes are held in the evening so students are free to do whatever best fits their career goals – internships or employment in the industry, producing a film, writing or developing scripts -- provided that all classes are attended and a 3.0 GPA is maintained.

Internships

The completion of an entertainment industry internship is a requirement for graduation.  This can be done at any time during the 2-year program, including the summer semester between the first and second year.  Students looks for internships on their own (paid and unpaid) per their own interests.  In addition, The Stark Program does ongoing semester-by-semester paid internship advocacy for the students at many companies including studios, networks, production companies, and agencies. Though in the past, all students have secured at least one paid internship during their two years, the Program does not guarantee one.

To facilitate as much industry experience as possible, the program endeavors to leave two free days in the students’ first year course schedule to enable students to seek part-time internships. In the second year, all classes take place in the evening, so all students can pursue part-time or full-time internship opportunities.

Guest Lecturers & Alumni

Peter Stark faculty invite guest lecturers with specific expertise to provide in-depth information. Typical guests range from award winning Producers, Writers and Directors to top Agents, Managers and Studio and Network Executives.

Peter Stark Producing Students in the Peter Stark Office.

Peter Stark graduates are important to the program. Some alumni teach or guest lecture for Stark classes, some serve on our Board of Mentors and others are panelists for Thesis Oral Examinations. Many make themselves available for student career counseling, while some contact the program if they are looking to employ a Stark student or graduate. Each year, the program updates and publishes a Stark Alumni Directory to facilitate contact and networking.

Mentor Board

The Mentor Board consists of distinguished industry professionals who advise about curriculum and special projects. It maintains a valuable, ongoing link to the film and television industry, helping ensure that the Peter Stark Producing Program remains cutting-edge in its teaching and philosophy.

Board members serve on a rotating basis as individual one-on-one mentors for about-to-graduate students starting in January of the final semester and ending December of that same year.  Mentors provide counsel and support as students plan and begin their careers post-graduation.

Special Productions

The Stark Program provides funds for up to three 20-minute short films each year. First year (second-semester) Stark students originate these projects. Special Productions are selected on a competitive basis from the submissions. Decisions are made by the Program Director along with industry professionals who then serve as advisors on the productions. The Stark producers can “hire” a writer and/or a director from the Stark Program or other SCA programs. Completed films have screened at the School of Cinematic Arts First Look series and numerous domestic and international festivals.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The Peter Stark Program consists of 44 units of required course work.  Please refer to the “Tuition and Fees” page of the USC Catalogue to find the per unit cost for Graduate Cinema Session 037 courses.   

The tuition fee generally goes up slightly each year, so prospective students should plan accordingly.  That cost is for tuition alone and doesn’t including living or housing costs.

Unfortunately, M.F.A. degrees, in general, are underfunded.   Many of our students take out student loans to cover costs.  The second year of the program when all classes are at night, some students cut down the cost by working or doing paid internships.

Domestic applicants should file a FAFSA.  The USC Financial Aid Office will use that to determine any federal aid an applicant is eligible for (typically loans and sometimes work-study as well).  International applicants often look to their home government for funding, or scholarship groups specific to their home country, or open to all international students (like the Fulbright Scholar Program).

To be considered for Scholarships from the School of Cinematic Arts, applicants must complete the SCA Scholarship Application questions, which are questions 34. thru 34.4 in the SlideRoom application.  For more information about SCA Scholarships, please visit the SCA Scholarships page.

The School of Cinematic Arts Scholarships are available to first year students in our program.  The specific qualifications and dollar amounts are determined by the donors.  There are often small dollar amount awards for diversity.  Aside from that, there aren’t a huge number of them, but the higher dollar amount awards tend to be very specific based on the interest of the donor.  For example, we have had a woman from China with a specific GPA win a larger scholarship, as well as someone from a country along the Pacific Rim.

Applicants who submit a scholarship application are put forward for any awards for which they qualify.

After that, there are other things you should know about:

The Peter Stark Program has a few scholarships available for second year students based largely on GPA from your first year.

There are two Teaching Assistant (TA) positions and the rest of the classes have Departmental Assistant (DA) positions (who assist instructors in class preparations, but no grading). Departmental Assistants receive a tuition remission for a few units (the number determined by the class) and also bill hours as a student worker.  They don’t cover the full cost of a term, but can help (especially if students receive them two or three of the four terms).  Students apply for any Teaching Assistant and Departmental Assistant positions term by term.  There will be a call for the applications from the Stark office.

Also, many students look to on campus employment and outside scholarships including those listed in this Outside Scholarship Guide.

Contact Information

Graduate Peter Stark Producing Program
School of Cinematic Arts
University Park, SCA 366
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2211
Phone: 213.740.3304
Fax: 213.745.6652
pstark@cinema.usc.edu