The Producers Program at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television is a two-year master of fine arts degree in film and television 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 his or her 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."
Distinguished Professor Barbara Boyle, head of the Producers Program and Professor Teri Schwartz, former UCLA TFT dean, are the tenured faculty in the area. Lisa Reeve, manager of the Producers Program, overseas the daily logistics of the program, runs the UCLA Film &Television Internship Program 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 Barbara Boyle, Teri Schwartz, Tom Nunan, Dan McDermott, Alex Franklin, Mali Kinberg, Bob Levy, Nick Moceri, Paul Nagle, Dwight Caines, Kate Beyda, Hans-Martin Liebing, Howard Meyers, David Boyle, Denise Mann and many others.
The senior thesis process culminates the graduate producing student's work in the program. Students are assigned industry professionals who offer comprehensive critiques based on their own professional experience and knowledge.
Recent thesis advisors include: Tracy Trench, Dana Gills, Grant Derkac, Josh Feldman, Shawn Waugh, Kamran Pasha, Aisha Summers, Maria Cervera, Marge Dean, Tiffany Greshler, Dan McDermott, Fiorela Canaj, Justin Begnaud, Cory Carrol, Lucienne Papon, Rob Hoegee, Jessica Rhoades, Loretta Ramos, Sara Lohman and Erin Conroy.
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 (2003),Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner (2004),Mike Medavoy (2005),Cathy Schulman (2006),Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (2007),Steven Golin (2008),Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks (2009),Hawk Koch (2010),Lawrence Bender (2011),Gale Anne Hurd (2012),Lorenzo di Bonaventura (2013),Mark Johnson (2014),Michael DeLuca (2015),Joe Roth (2016),Ryan Murphy (2017),Megan Ellison (2018),Lynette Howell Taylor (2019),Stephanie Allain (2020) and Charles D. King (2021).
Producers Program graduates are found throughout the entertainment industry. They run studios, produce movies, television, Broadway shows, events and 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 two-year program is designed to give all of our students the essential tools for them to successfully launch and succeed in their chosen careers in production; as producers, studio executives, agents or manager/producers in an array of the most current media, from film to television to digital media.
The First Year
The first year is intentionally designed to be an immersive and detailed experience emphasizing the fundamentals of producing. The Introduction to Producing I-III series, which is limited to the first-year producing students, represents the backbone of the program. Here, students learn what a producer does and get a detailed overview of how the industry operates. Students also 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 Producers Program's curriculum reflects just that.
In addition to Introduction to Producing series, students in their first year also take lecture and seminar courses dealing with a variety of topics, including feature film and television development, studio and network management, production planning/budgeting, entertainment law and business negotiations, international financing and distribution, film festival strategies and the new CMS Common Course taken by all MFA students in the school of Film, Television and Digital Media. Offered by the Producers Program, some of these courses are also open to graduate screenwriting, directing, animation, and cinema and media studies students, and in certain cases, to law and business students. This way, producing students can meet their classmates from the other TFT programs and start building a professional network in the classroom.
Finally, Producer 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 help contribute to the selection of the student’s thesis project for 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 Thesis Workshop I-III series. Having optioned a screenplay or teleplay 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 Thesis Workshop series is exclusive to second-year producing students and continues their work from the Introduction to Producing courses. In the Thesis Workshop series, 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. In addition, the second year includes a deep dive into digital media with the Digital Media Series I and II classes.
Students also may take courses that take a comprehensive look into the independent film world, what it is like to be a showrunner for a television series, feature film marketing, how to develop television projects from IP, intellectual property and film festival strategies. In addition, students are required to take one course in any of the other areas within the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media; that is in screenwriting, directing, production, animation or digital media. Thus, the students 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 MFA directing student’s thesis film in their second year. This experience typically involves a follow-up collaboration between a directing student and the producing student who had worked with them in their collaboration course during the winter quarter of their first year.
Producers Program students complete a two-part thesis that culminates their requirements 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.
A feature 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. A television project consists of a teleplay for a pilot that may be optioned or an original (requires petition and writing sample(s) for permission from the faculty) and a comprehensive strategy that discusses how to package, finance, budget, market and distribute the project.
A thesis committee comprised of one faculty member and two industry professionals supervises the student. 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 MFA 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 the Thesis Workshop II class.
The Producers Program has the following time-to-degree requirement: six quarters. The minimum number of units is 82 and there are at least 18 required courses.
1. Core I
Producers Program students enroll in the following 18 core classes in their first and second years.
2. Core II
Students enroll in five (5) courses selected from the list below and two (2) 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 MFA Requirement
Students enroll in one course in an MFA area outside the Producers Program (i.e. screenwriting, directing/production or animation). All Producers Program students who wish to enroll in a screenwriting class must first take FTV 430, Introduction to Film/TV Writing, offered only Fall Quarter.
4. Cinema and Media Studies Requirement
Students enroll in a minimum of two (2) graduate-level Cinema and Media Studies courses. In the Fall of year 1, all MFA students will take FTV210: CMS Common Course. Please see list below for additional course numbers and titles of CMS classes that students can take for their second CMS requirement.
Please note that not all courses are offered every quarter. Students should consult the registrar’s schedule for available courses and class times.
Some courses are taught as a core course for MA. CMS students and may not be available that particular quarter for MFA students.
Producers Program students must complete at least two (2) internships during their time in the program. However, students are encouraged to begin interning in the latter half of their first year and to pursue additional internships during their time at UCLA in order to gain valuable experience in different areas of the Entertainment business.
All MFA programs in Film, Television and Digital Media are full-time. The Department admits new students only once each year for the Fall Quarter.
Applicants must submit all required application materials to be considered for admission.
Online and Mailed Application Deadline: November 1, 2022
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 U.S. 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, 2022.
- Indicate MFA, Film and Television, Producers Program as the program.
- Upload the Statement of Purpose.
- Submit a 1-2 page document.
- Upload a Personal Statement.
- Upload a Resume.
- Upload a portfolio of Two Original Treatments
- Submit TWO three-page Treatments
- Treatments can be either Feature Film or Television Treatments
- Please do not send scripts, DVDs or Films
- Upload the Producers Program Questionnaire
- Answer the three prompts (1/2 page max each)
- Upload Additional Material. (Optional)
- Submit a link to visual work (10 min max)
- Do not password protect links.
- 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.
Step 2: Mail
- Mail an Official copy of all Transcripts from each Undergraduate and Graduate institutions attended.
- Note: Community College transcripts are not necessary.
- Request that all Test Scores be sent directly to UCLA.
- Only test scores taken by December 31, 2022 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: Producers Program
UCLA Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media
103 East Melnitz Hall, Box 951622
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1622
Online and Mailed Application Deadline: November 1, 2022.
For more information on requirements and applying to UCLA as an international student, visit https://grad.ucla.edu/admissions/international-applicants/.
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