Producers Program M.F.A.
The Producers Program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television is a two-year Master of Fine Arts degree program designed for people who wish to pursue careers as creative producers and executives in the entertainment industry. First established in 1984, the Producers Program is now ranked among the top graduate schools in creative producing in the United States.
The Producers Program features a world-class faculty of studio and network presidents, Oscar and Emmy-winning producers, top entertainment lawyers and agents, and internationally-renown scholars. Students learn from the best and the most cutting-edge in their respective fields.
Understanding how to tell a good story and how to reach an audience are basic skills that every good producer possesses — whether for movies, television, Internet, mobile devices, video games or sports entertainment. For this reason the entire curriculum is built around the dual focus of development and strategy.
Because of its intimate size — only 15 students are admitted each year — the Program allows for personal attention and mentorship of each individual student. Every student is different and comes with her or his own unique set of ideas and interests. Giving each student a chance to grow personally and professionally is important to the faculty, mentors and administration of the Program. What combines all these different personalities is a passion for storytelling, excellence, teamwork and core humanistic values.
Producers Program students are passionate storytellers. They are driven to succeed and stand out given their creative passion and their business acumen. They are self-starters and understand that every good piece of entertainment starts with the script.
The typical Producers Program student reflects the cultural diversity of the global filmmaking community and includes many women, minorities and students from abroad. The typical student enters the Producers Program with the requisite entrepreneurial spirit of a producer. They typically have interned at studios, agencies or in production companies; optioned material and are working with screenwriters; produced several shorts or low-budget features; or worked in some capacity in the entertainment industry such as development, marketing, talent representation, law or production management. Most come to the Program in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the film and television industries from working professionals so they can apply these principles to their own projects.
It is the expressed goal of the Producers Program to train both independent producers and studio or network executives. One of the distinct advantages of having producing students pursue separate career tracks is that young producers as “sellers” have immediate access to a group of peers who are working for “buyers.”
The Producers Program faculty is comprised of distinguished scholars and internationally recognized professionals in the fields of film, television and new media. Denise Mann, head of the Producers Program, and Associate Dean of Entrepreneurial Programs and Special Initiatives Barbara Boyle are the tenured faculty in the area. Professor Emeritus Howard Suber, the founding head of the Producers Program, is regularly recalled to teach his famous “Film Structure” course. Ben Harris, Assistant Director of the Producers Program, teaches undergraduate and graduate producing classes, runs the UCLA Film & Television Internship Program and Summer Institutes, and oversees the undergraduate Senior Concentration in Producing.
In addition, an impressive roster of top industry professionals who teach on a part-time basis rounds out the regular faculty. Industry leaders in their chosen fields, these visiting professors include studio and network presidents and senior executives, Oscar-winning and top-grossing producers, showrunners, and top agents and lawyers. Faculty who regularly teach courses include Beth Babyak, Eric Baum, Jeffrey Bell, Channing Dungey, Alex Franklin, Alan Friel, Peter Guber, David Hoberman, Mali Kinberg, Beau Marks, Navid McIlhargey, Maggie Murphy, Paul Nagle, Tom Nunan, Robin Pelleck, Terry Press, Michael Puopolo, Christopher Spicer, Ken Suddleson, Michele Weiss, Glenn Williamson and Amotz Zakai, among many others.
Mentors fulfill an essential role in helping students transition from the academic to the professional world. Assigned to students at the end of their first year, mentors are established producers and executives who advise and mentor producing students in one-on-one sessions on their thesis projects as well as career choices.
Past mentors have included: Caroline Baron, Betsy Beers, Albert Berger, Gail Berman, Roger Birnbaum, Tom Bliss, Effie T. Brown, Brian Burk, Colin Callender, Cotty Chubb, Robert Cooper, Stuart Cornfeld, Carlton Cuse, Tom DeSanto, Denise DiNovi, Lindsay Doran, Joe Drake, Cassian Elwes, Sean Finegan, Wendy Finerman, David Gale, Gary Gilbert, Steve Golin, Mark Gordon, Alan Greisman, Sheila Hanahan Taylor, David Hoberman, Bill Horberg, Gale Anne Hurd, Joan Hyler, Basil Iwanyk, Jim Jacks, J.J. Jamieson, Jon Landau, Yair Landau, David Linde, Jeff Loeb, Mark Johnson, Michael London, Laurie MacDonald, Marianna Maddalena, Doug Mankoff, Frank Marshall, Kevin McCormick, Bill Mechanic, Mike Medavoy, Barry Mendel, Schuyler Moore, Mark Ordesky, Marc Platt, Peter Rice, Sara Risher, Rena Ronson, Fred Roos, Charles Roven, Richard Sakai, Peter Samuelson, Lauren Schuler Donner, Cathy Schulman, Mike Stenson, Scott Stuber, Mark Trugman, Nancy Utely, Nick Wechsler, Matthew Weiner, Doug Wick and Ron Yerxa.
Producers Marketplace is the annual year-end gala event hosted by the Producers Program and produced by the first-year producing students in June. This highly anticipated event marks the culmination of the academic calendar and features three to four graduating second-year students, who were selected for the event to pitch their feature film projects to a panel of top-tier industry judges. Appearing live on stage in front of an audience of more than 300 people, the finalists present their projects in five-minute concept pitches. They then field a battery of questions from the judges about how they plan to get their projects made.
The judges select the most promising proposal and present the winning producer the UCLA Producers Marketplace Jury Prize and a cash award from producer/alumnus Dan Angel '90. The audience votes on its favorite pitch; the winner receives the Marketplace Audience Award and a cash prize.
The evening also honors a person whose career exemplifies an extraordinary vision as a producer in all aspects of film art and business and who leaves an indelible mark on the industry. The Vision Award is co-presented by the Producers Guild of America and the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Past recipients include Mark Gordon, Tom Cruise & Paula Wagner, Mike Medavoy, Cathy Schulman, Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa, Steven Golin, Bruce Cohen & Dan Jinks, Hawk Koch, Lawrence Bender, Gale Anne Hurd, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and Mark Johnson.
Producers Program graduates are found throughout the entertainment industry. They run studios, produce movies, television, Broadway shows, events, Internet series, and put their very own stamp on our culture today. Over the past three decades the UCLA TFT alumni network has grown exponentially and now reaches across the country and all around the world. The Program regularly recruits alumni to teach in the classroom and to mentor students on their own projects and in their career choices.
The Producers Program is a hub for cutting-edge research. Every year the Program produces the Transforming Hollywood conference, which is co-hosted by Denise Mann and USC Professor Henry Jenkins. Transforming Hollywood is a one-day public symposium exploring the role of transmedia franchises in today's entertainment industries. Transforming Hollywood turns the spotlight on media creators, producers and executives and places them in critical dialogue with top researchers from across a wide spectrum of film, media and cultural studies to provide an interdisciplinary summit for the free interchange of insights about how transmedia works and what it means.
The Producers Program has partnered with the Paris-based Havas Media, the fifth-largest advertising and communication group worldwide, to launch the UCLA TFT Digital Incubator and Think-Tank (DIT), a creative hub for innovative storytelling and digital media research. The goal of the DIT is to inaugurate a dialogue about different cutting-edge forms of brand-funded content that engages online viewers/consumers in new and intriguing ways using social media, new technologies, and new, interactive/engaging storytelling. As the director and principal investigator of this venture, Denise Mann teaches classes and provides research opportunities for graduate students to incubate cutting edge project proposals and to engage in ethnographic fieldwork at transitional media companies that are ushering in new creative and managerial strategies more in line with a digital ecosystem.
The First Year
The first year of the program lays the foundation for the work the students will be conducting in their second year. Students learn the basics of producing: from inception of an idea through development, procuring talent and financing to planning and executing a production to marketing and distribution of the final product. Producers have to be able to conceptualize and oversee the entire life cycle of a creative project, and the Producer Program’s curriculum reflects just that.
The “Introduction to Producing I-III” series, which is limited to the first-year producing students, represents the backbone of the Program in the first year. Here students learn what a producer does and the basic building blocks of the industry. Through reading produced and unproduced scripts, fiction and non-fiction books, newspaper and magazine articles, students learn to discern what material they gravitate towards and what makes sense in a contemporary marketplace setting.
In addition to “Introduction to Producing,” students also take lecture and seminar courses dealing with a variety of topics, including: feature and television development, film structure, studio and network management, production planning, budgeting and scheduling, entertainment law and business negotiation, marketing and distribution. Offered through the Producers Program, these courses are also open to graduate screenwriting, directing, animation and Cinema & Media Studies students, and in certain cases to law and business students. This way, producing students can meet their classmates from the other programs and start building their professional network in the classroom.
Finally, Producers Program students are encouraged to develop and find their own creative projects throughout their first year. In the spring quarter of their first year, students will pitch a slate of at least three projects to a panel of industry professionals. This panel will select the student’s thesis project that the student will pursue in their second year.
The Second Year
In their second year producing students apply the knowledge they have gained in the first year to a concrete project in the “Research & Development I-III” (R&D) series. Having optioned a screenplay at the end of their first year, students will further develop that project and design a financing strategy that is realistic in the contemporary marketplace. The R&D series is exclusive to second-year producing students and continues their work from the “Introduction to Producing” courses. In R&D students workshop their thesis projects with their classmates, the instructor, and frequent guests from the industry. This “real-world” feedback helps the students refine their strategies in light of the contemporary marketplace.
Students also take courses in advanced producing taught by high-profile veteran producers who present case studies of their own film and/or television productions. In addition, students can elect courses in any of the other areas within the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media. Students can take courses in screenwriting, directing, animation or digital media and thus broaden their perspective and understanding of the entire media production process.
Producing students usually elect to complete their Secondary Thesis Production Experience by producing an M.F.A. directing student’s thesis film in their second year.
Producers Program students complete a two-part thesis that culminates their education in the Program. The thesis consists of a professional-length feature or television project that the student intends to produce upon completion of the Program and a production experience — typically a short film produced while enrolled in the Program.
The feature or television project consists of an optioned screenplay that the student will further develop with the screenwriter and a comprehensive strategy that discusses how to package, finance, budget, market and distribute the project. The student is supervised by a thesis committee of one faculty person and two industry professionals. The thesis committee works closely with the student on his or her project, advising them on their strategy and reviewing and giving feedback on the student’s thesis binder in two separate rounds.
The second part is a production experience. Typically the producing student will collaborate with an M.F.A. directing student and produce their thesis film. The student assists the director in realizing their creative vision and manages physical production.
Finally, the student must participate in an oral panel presentation of his or her project before a panel of industry professionals and faculty in mid March during Research and Development II.
The Producers Program has the following time-to-degree requirement: six quarters. The minimum total units required to graduate is 112 units (27 courses).
1. Core I
Producers Program students enroll in the following 16 core classes in their first and second years. For their second year students choose either the Feature or Television Thesis tracks.
2. Core II
Students enroll in six courses selected from the list below and two sections of the internship course, FTV 498. Courses may be taken at any point in Year 1 and/or Year 2, depending on availability.
3. Outside M.F.A. Requirement
Students enroll in one course in an M.F.A. area outside the Producers Program (i.e. Screenwriting, Directing/Production or Animation).
4. Cinema and Media Studies Requirement
Students enroll in a minimum of two graduate-level Cinema & Media Studies courses. Please see list below for approved course numbers and titles. Please note that not all courses are offered every quarter. Students should consult the registrar’s schedule for available courses and class times. For courses in the 298 series, which is a temporary course number and may be used by any program in the department, students should consult the graduate advisor first to check whether a course fulfills the CMS requirement.
All M.F.A. programs in Film, Television and Digital Media are full-time programs. The Department admits new students only once each year for the Fall Quarter.
We Do Not Accept Films, DVDs or CDs.
Applicants must submit all required application materials to be considered for admission.
Online Application and Postmark Deadline: November 1, 2015
By the time of entrance, MFA Applicants Must:
- Have at least a 3.0 GPA.
- Satisfy the University of California’s Graduate Admission Requirements.
- Complete equivalent to a 4 year US Bachelor’s Degree.
Please complete all of the following steps:
Step 1: Online
- Complete the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.
- MUST be paid and completed Online by November 1, 2015.
- Indicate MFA, Film and Television, Producers Program as the program.
- Upload Unofficial copies of all Transcripts.
- Submit Three Letters of Recommendation
- Enter the Names and Emails of all recommenders into the UCLA Graduate Division Online Application.
- Note: Letters can be submitted by mail.
Step 2: Online & Mail
- Complete the Online Graduate FTVDM Departmental Application.
- Print and Mail the generated PDF.
- Upload and Mail the Statement of Purpose.
- Submit a one-to two-page document.
- Upload and Mail a Portfolio of Two Treatments.
- Submit three-page Treatments.
- Treatments can be either Feature Film or Television Treatments
- Please do not send scripts, DVDs or Films
- Upload and Mail a Resume.
Step 3: Mail
- Mail an Official copy of all Transcripts from each Undergraduate and Graduate institutions attended.
- Note: Community College transcripts are not necessary.
- Please have transcripts sent to the address below or include them in sealed envelopes with the supplemental application packet.
- Request that all Test Scores be sent directly to UCLA.
- Only test scores taken by December 2015 will be accepted.
- The GRE UCLA Code is 4837 and the Department Code is 2409.
- Note: The GRE is not Required for MFA Applicants.
Please Send all applicable materials to:
Graduate Film Admissions
UCLA Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media
103 East Melnitz Hall, Box 951622
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1622
Online Application and Postmark Deadline: November 1, 2015
For more information on requirements and applying to UCLA as an International Student, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/international-applicants/.
English Proficiency: Any international applicant whose first language is not English must certify proficiency in English when applying to UCLA, and, if admitted, upon arrival. Such applicants must submit scores received on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) as part of their application. The UCLA Code is 4837 and the Department Code is 2409. Only test scores taken by December 2015 will be accepted. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/english-requirements/. International applicants who have received a Bachelor’s degree from an American institution are not required to take the TOEFL.
Academic Records: Although the UCLA Graduate Division Application enables applicants to upload an unofficial copy of their academic records, all applicants are required to submit official records from each academic institution attended. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/required-academic-records/.
Undergraduate Degree Requirement: Applicants must complete equivalent to a 4 year US Bachelor’s Degree. International students who hold three-year ordinary pass degrees, or who hold professional diplomas in accounting, business, librarianship, social work, physical education, health education and so on, or four-year degrees, diplomas or higher certificates from technical, vocational or post-secondary specialized schools are NOT eligible for graduate admission. For Academic Requirements by Country or Educational System, visit: https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/required-academic-records/.
Proof of Funding for Visa: U.S. immigration law requires that international applicants, if admitted, show documented evidence that sufficient funds to cover all tuition, fees, transportation, and living expenses are available for the first year of their studies at UCLA. This must be proven before a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20 or DS2019) for a visa can be issued. For more information about this requirement, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/visa-procedures/.
For U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents interested in receiving financial aid in the 2016-2017 year, note that the Fellowship Application and Financial Aid Application (FAFSA) deadline for UCLA is March 2, 2016. Applicants must complete the FAFSA by this date if they want to be eligible for all awards, work-study, and scholarships that UCLA offers. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities. www.financialaid.ucla.edu
** Please do not contact the department to check on your application, as we cannot update you on your application status or materials.