Department of Visual & Media Arts

Writing for Film and Television (BA, BFA)

I Am w/Marc Babcock

Screenwriting major Marc Babcock discusses his love for music and where he gets his creative inspiration.

Storytelling has evolved from its roots in the oral tradition to that of telling stories for film and television. A specialization in Writing for Film and Television will foster learning through writing, critique, and rewriting. Students will be encouraged to be innovative and individualistic in their style and expression. They will have the opportunity to write feature-length screenplays, situation comedies, one-hour prime time dramas, and short scripts suitable for film, video, or new media.

Credits: 44 for BA, 60 for BFA (both degrees also include 8 additional upper-level liberal arts credits)

I. Visual and Media Arts Foundations (12 credits)

The Visual and Media Arts Foundations offer students a broad theoretical, historical, and practical introduction to the visual and media arts.

Required Courses

VM 100 History of Media Arts I
VM 101 History of Media Arts II

One of the following:

VM 102 Dimensions of Creativity
VM 120 Foundations in Visual and Media Arts Production

II. Introduction to Disciplines (16 credits minimum)

At the Introduction to Disciplines level, students explore one or more of the department’s main discipline areas.

Required Courses

VM 200 Media Criticism and Theory

At least two of the following:

VM 220 Writing the Short Subject
VM 221 Writing the Feature Film
VM 222 Writing for Television

At least one of the following:

VM 204 Topics in Media Arts: Practice
VM 230 Introduction to Film Production
VM 231 Intermediate Film Production
VM 240 Introduction to Video Field Production
VM 241 Introduction to Studio TV Production
VM 250 Introduction to Sound Principles and Audio Production
VM 251 Location Sound Recording
VM 260 Introduction to Interactive Media
VM 261 Computer Animation
VM 331 Topics in Visual and Media Arts: Practice

III. Specializations

At least two of the following:

VM 322 Comedy Writing for Television
VM 323 Writing Primetime Drama
VM 324 Topics in Screenplay Genres
VM 325 Writing the Adaptation
VM 328 Topics in Film Writing
VM 329 Topics in Television Writing
VM 423 Writing Television Pilots
VM 424 Interactive Storytelling
VM 428 Feature Writing Workshop
VM 429 Comedy Writers' Room

At least one of the following:

VM 402 Seminar in Media Arts Topics
VM 409 Seminar in Western Art
VM 410 Seminar in Non-Western Art

Required Courses

One additional advanced visual and media studies course numbered VM 300-315, 400-418, or 500-519.

In addition to the General Education and major requirements, all students are required to complete at least two courses at the 300 or 400 level from the following Liberal Arts areas:

  • History
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Ethics, Philosophy, or Religion
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Science
  • Sociology
  • TH 304, 313, 315
  • VM 315, 409, 410

Recommended Electives

VM 231 Intermediate Film Production
VM 440 Advanced Studio Production: Fiction
WR 211 Introduction to Creative Writing: Fiction
TH 121 Introduction to Acting I
TH 388 Playwriting I

Advanced Visual and Media Arts Workshop

Students may apply to take the Advanced Visual and Media Arts Workshop. Two semesters are mandatory for BFA. Optional for BA.

For specific course prerequisites, please consult the Undergraduate Catalogue.

Writing for the Film Musical

A Writing Collaboration

Holly Van Leuven, a Writing, Literature and Publishing student, and Timothy Zientek, a Visual and Media Arts major with a concentration in Writing for Film and Television, describe how their innovative class brings writers from different majors and colleges together. Watch video »

Emerson Minds

Emerson College classmates Alan Schoolcraft '95 and Brent Simons ’97 wrote the screenplay for the #1 movie in North America, Megamind. The Dreamworks film made $43.7 million at the box office in the first weekend.

Read more »

Jay Cocks

Jay Cocks,
Screenwriting Chair

Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Jay Cocks, whose work includes Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, The Age of Innocence, Gangs of New York, and Kathryn Bigelow's Strange Days, is Emerson’s Jane and Terry Semel Chair in Screenwriting. Learn more »


Jacob Emanuel ’08 and William Block ’08

Paramount Pictures Set to Produce Screenplay by Emerson Duo

The Hollywood Reporter and Variety are reporting that Paramount Pictures recently picked up a screenwriting pitch from two alumni of Emerson’s Film program, Jacob Emanuel ’08 and William Block ’08. Read the full story »