A stage with curtain and lights in reds, blues, and purples.In front of the curtain are film reels and a film clapboard.

Antioch MFA Honored for “Outstanding Screenwriting Training” on 25 Best Film Schools List

Antioch University’s MFA in Creative Writing has received the honor of being named one of MovieMaker’s 25 Best Film Schools for 2023, with the magazine recognizing it as one of three standouts for the category of Outstanding Screenwriting Training, alongside Emerson College and UCLA. The citation, which focuses on the Writing for the Screen genre, points to the MFA’s excellence in faculty and guests, its focus on preparing screenwriters to navigate questions of social justice in their work and careers, and its innovative field study requirement.

MovieMaker’s list aims to identify “places where you can learn the priceless skills required to make it in the ever-evolving entertainment business while building a portfolio that will turn heads and make industry professionals take your talent and ambition seriously.” In selecting Antioch’s screenwriting program, the magazine points to the way that the Antioch MFA prepares students through its unique emphasis on social justice. As MovieMaker’s citation says, “What really distinguishes this program is its emphasis on social justice, which, if you haven’t noticed, is a major theme in projects getting the green light from studios and indie film investors.”

MFA Chair Lisa Locascio Nighthawk says, “It’s an honor for the Antioch MFA to be included on this list alongside some of the biggest names in film education. It’s wonderful to receive recognition for the good work everyone is doing in this program, from the inspiring projects being created by our students to the pedagogical excellence of our faculty and guest speakers, and of course, the many successes of our alumni.”

Colette Freedman, the MFA program’s Dramatic Writing Program Officer, says that part of what makes the Antioch MFA stand out is the program’s focus on individualized and passionate mentorship. As she says, “We are all called to give the best to our students.” Recognition, such as being included on MovieMaker’s list of the best film schools, is proof that this approach is working.

The Antioch MFA is a two-year, low-residency program, and it gives students interested in screenwriting an opportunity to work closely with professionals in the film industry. As MovieMaker explains, “An MFA semester consists mostly of working from home—or wherever students like to write—with an intensive 10-day hybrid residency of online and in-person classes, followed by a five-month online project period, during which each student works under the supervision of a faculty mentor.” In recent residencies, guest speakers have included Jon Landau (Avatar), Stephen McFeely (Avengers: Endgame), Billy Ray (The Hunger Games), Jane Anderson (Olive Kitteridge), and Dorothy Fortenberry (The Handmaid’s Tale). 

While centering on the excellence of literary education offered, the Antioch MFA’s emphasis on social justice doesn’t go unnoticed. MovieMaker points specifically to the program’s requirement that students complete a field study in their community, which ensures that rhetoric gets put into action. “Students don’t just talk about it, either,” writes MovieMaker. “They’re required to complete a field study, putting their knowledge and skills as writers to work in service of something they personally value.” Each field study must address at least two of the three aspects of the MFA program’s unique purpose: the education of literary and dramatic artists, community engagement or service, and the pursuit of social justice.

Ultimately, inclusion on this prestigious list as one of three picks for Outstanding Screenwriting Training shows that the Antioch MFA is succeeding in its mission. By connecting rising stars in the world of screenwriting with experienced professional screenwriters, longtime producers, and other film industry experts, the program allows students to focus on honing their skills, strengthening their creativity,  and exploring the depths of technique and methodology, all in a supportive community devoted to addressing the pressing questions of our time. As Freedman explains, “Our students are an outstanding group of artists who are using their talent not only to write screenplays but to make the world a more connected, thoughtful, and just place.”