L.A. Courses

Internship: FMA 3085 (4 s.h.), MSP 4785 (4 s.h.), ADV 3185 (3 s.h.) – Offered year-round

The internship course will meet regularly. Group discussion and class sessions are important components along with individual appointments. Internships are supervised by the Internship Coordinator who is in regular contact with the placement site, site supervisor, and students. The Internship Coordinator is available for resume and cover letter review, placement advising, and contact information. Students are encouraged to arrange a number of interviews as part of their search. REQUIRED DURING THE SUMMER PROGRAM

Entertainment Industry Perspectives: FMA 3770 (4 s.h.)/MSP 4890 (4 s.h.) – 
Offered year-round

This course explores career paths and current trends in the entertainment industry through visiting guest lecturers who are working professionals in various fields such as: producers, agents, actors in TV and film, script writers, production designers, directors, editors, PR specialists, as well as advertisers and distributors, from entry level to executive, in all domains, including intellectual property lawyers (film, TV, new media).  Weekly guest visits offer students a chance to learn from and converse with established professionals.  In addition, students will write weekly journal assignments reflecting upon their own personal experiences of the entertainment industry throughout the semester and will complete a final research paper in their area of interest.  Course-related field trips may be scheduled for weekends or daytime business hours.

Distinguished guest visitors on a weekly basis such as: Ross Katz (Lost in Translation & In the Bedroom, co-producer, and Taking Chance, writer/director); Chris Manley, (ASC, Mad Men);  Tim and Eric (Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, writers/producers/directors/performers); Michael MaGahey (V.P. Disney TV animation, & developer of Little Miss Sunshine); Deborah Offner (SAG, Black Swan, Law & Order, CSI, Cruel Intentions: Holly Kaplan, Parenthood, Miami Medical, Days of Our Lives); Palek Patel (company produced Alice in Wonderland); Julia Wong (X-Men: Last Stand, Red Riding Hood, editor;) and many others will offer students a chance to learn and converse with industry professionals who are established in the business.

Los Angeles Culture as Studio: FMA 3680 (4 s.h.), MSP 3890 (4 s.h.) –
Offered year-round

LA Culture/Studio is based on the premise that the city itself can be a classroom or studio. This course depends heavily on engaged discussion as a form of intellectual production. Discussion is augmented by weekly readings, as well as on the ground experiences and observations made throughout the day. One can read about Bunker Hill for example, but one can also learn about it through an excursion up and down and across the hill itself. Similarly we will take field trips distinct neighborhoods in LA such as Chinatown, SIlver Lake and X. We will visit factories, studios, and galleries. In short, this class will uncover a part of LA not normally experienced by tourists or short-time visitors, but a side that constitutes the lived reality of the majority of LA residents.

Topics In Film – LA Plays Itself: FMA W3696 –
Writing intensive (4 s.h.), MSP 3196 – Writing intensive (3 s.h.)
*This course is not offered in the summer

We all know Los Angeles as a movie location. As the seat of the film industry, it has been a convenient backdrop for film productions since the early days of cinema. In this context, however, Los Angeles often ‘plays’ somewhere else. For this course, we will screen films which portray Los Angeles as a very specific character––itself––and will examine the different narratives and themes that characterize the city. We will discuss economic, social, and historical aspects of Los Angeles; perceptions of the city from within and without; and the stories and myths that the film industry spins about its hometown.

Films screened in the course will span from the Silent Era to the present, and will be augmented by readings from 20th-century popular fiction and non-fiction as a means of identifying common narratives that have grown out of various Los Angeles experiences.  The objectives of the course will be: to develop critical and analytical skills for approaching and understanding narratives; to engage students’ observational skills as relates to their own experiences in Los Angeles; and by synthesizing these two skills, to foster a deeper understanding of how cultural myths and narratives grow out of experience, speak to it, and in turn re-shape it.

Topics in Production: The Art of the Sell: FMA 4240 (4 s.h.)
*This course is not offered every semester

This course will provide the tools that producers, writers and directors need to navigate the fine line that the film industry draws between art and commerce. Students will learn how to pitch their ideas effectively and to structure treatments for feature film and TV series according to industry standards. They will learn the craft of the “look book” and will design posters and web sites for their movies. Students will edit “sizzle reels” from clips of existing movies that help characterize their visions. They will learn the skill of casting their movie and how to draft compelling and articulate letters to actors.

The class will have periodic guest speakers, among them, producers, directors, TV writers, agents and sales agents.   This is an intensive workshop course and will require weekly creative endeavors.  A working knowledge of and access to an editing program such as Final Cut Pro, iMovie, or Avid is required. Students are also required to have a working knowledge of Photoshop and a graphic design program such as Adobe Illustrator.

Topics in Production LA Screenwriting Workshop: FMA 4250 (4 s.h.)
*This course is not offered every semester

“Writing is just a higher form of thinking.” – Freeman Dyson.  Superior scripts are the result of superior writing. The focus of this course will always be the ‘word on the page.’ You will examine what Frank Conroy calls the ‘microlevel’–how writing (or polishing) will clarify ideas and characters. Your script will be judged on screenwriting style as much as on the elaboration of the idea.  Students will integrate in practice everything they have learned about film, screenwriting and story by developing the first draft of a feature-length screenplay. The course will be structured as a workshop, present students with the opportunity to further hone their critical skills and introduce them to the discipline of the writer’s life.

Topics and Production: Understanding and Making Documentaries: FMA 4240 (4 s.h.) – 
*This course is not offered every semester

This is a documentary production course with a creative emphasis on the personal documentary. The course will explore stylistic distinctions, methods, and technical issues as it relates to portable moviemaking. Technical issues to be explored will be: cameras (HD and super-16mm), location, sound, lighting, editing. We will be viewing and discussing some of the various types of documentaries, which are encompassed in the form, ranging from the poetic, to the home movie, to the stylistic crystallization period of Direct Cinema to the expose/advocacy documentary. Theoretical and ethical issues will also be a focus in the course.


FMA 4282 (or other Department Course Numbers)
Independent study or independent project.

Related Links


  • Nora M. Alter
  • Director
  • FMA Study Away
  • Alison Crouse
  • Associate Program Director
  • FMA Study Away
  • Room 14F ground floor Annenberg Hall
  • 215-204-5910
  • Contact both: