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The Showrunner Program

UCLA’s TFT has some kind of “Showrunner program” up its sleeve and they seem to be very secretive about that, really secretive.

So I tried to dig up some information.

First, I tried to contact TFT.
After 3 e-mails or so, I only had a handful of information on that mysterious program.

Then I googled, I yahooed, I searched everywhere and, finally, I had found something more about the program. Not much, but something.
What I found was actually TFT’s “strategic plan” for 2005-2010. Actually, I found a cache of the plan (the original having been deleted I suppose).
Now I won’t talk much about the document but what I will talk about here are the infos I gathered about this “TV Writer-Producer program” AKA “Showrunner program”.

The first thing I learned was that this program is currently in its second year, that means that it began only a year ago, during the Academic Year 2007-2008, so it is extremely recent (hence, possibly, the lack of feedback around it).
I also learned that, like other TFT programs, only a handful (read 20ish) of people are selected each year. So as usual, very competitive.

The strategic plan focused around 10 projects that are to be completed by 2010; the 10th project being the creation of this collaborative program between the MFA Producing Program and the MFA Screenwriting Program, therefore making a “Creative Producing and Writing for Television” program.
Here is an excerpt from the plan talking about that project:

Proposal: TFT is committed to establishing a cross-programmatic MFA specialization that trains the next generation of writer/producers for television. Serving a nationally recruited cohort of twenty new students, the Creative Producing for Television Program will put TFT at the forefront of a highly competitive field of enormous social and
economic importance.

Analysis: This program is a strategic curricular priority. Unlike the film industry which is a director’s medium, television’s central creative force is the writer/producer or show-runner. A new academic program can have dramatically transformative effect on the art form. Proposed offerings will bring together two of TFT’s most successful and prestigious programs: screenwriting and producing. It is broadly recognized that based on the career of its graduates the Screenwriting Program is the national leader in its field.
TFT has the competitive advantage of being able to turn to television industry leaders and members of our Executive Board for influential and knowledgeable adjunct faculty.

Resources: Because writing and producing are neither equipment nor space intensive, only relatively modest resources are required to establish an excellent program. Professionals drawn from the entertainment industry will be available to teach on a pro-bono basis. Major instructional and administrative costs will be covered by Enrollment Initiative funding. Discussed and approved in principle at TFT’s last budget meeting, the use of enrollment initiative funding to support MFA growth has the added advantage of enhancing TFT’s financial stability through the generation of professional fees. Finally, a program of this stature will attract significant support from the television industry.
Funding for one of the courses is already in place from a private donor and so too is full salary and benefits for an Administrative Coordinator who will be required during the program’s first formative year (see http://www.tft.ucla.edu/producers/start.htm).

Everything is pretty vague but still pretty interesting.

The focus of this program I was told is to write your own show that you would ultimately produce, pretty ambitious.

I wondered how one would apply to such a program as there is basically on the TFT website about it, and I was told that to apply, you needed to go through the Screenwriting application procedure. But, again, there’s nothing on the website to clarify your intention of joining this “TV Writer-Producer program”.

TFT is currently “gathering information” to post on the website.

The only thing we can do now I guess is wait, and see.

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