Master Classes are in-depth, interactive learning experiences focused on craft and career building and led by renowned industry experts. Topics include fiction and documentary filmmaking, TV writing and production, and navigating and succeeding in the entertainment industry.

Crafting a good story takes time and can be both exciting and intimidating. Before starting a screenplay, you need a strong idea and an understanding of how to create conflict and tension to keep your audience engaged. Join David Schwab, a NYC-based screenwriter and adjunct professor at the Graduate Film School at Columbia University, in this three-hour Master Class. He'll help screenwriters learn the essential process of finding compelling stories and conducting the necessary research for authenticity. Discover strategies to identify your dramatic problem and themes, as well as methods for engaging the audience. Guest filmmakers Tamara Jenkins, Mira Nair, and Destin Daniel Cretton will share how they find ideas and emphasize the importance of a genuine connection to the stories you tell.

Topics covered include: 

    0-4:17 - Introductions

    4:17 - David Schwab’s Intro to the Class

    9:06 - How Schwab Finds His Stories

    19:40 - How the Masters Get Their Ideas

    31:28 - Writing From Your Own Experience

    38:00 - Conducting Research

    45:13 - The Importance of Dramatic Problems

    52:27 - Visual Examples of Dramatic Problems

    1:05 - A Litmus Test for Determining Your Story

    1:09 - Q&A with David Schwab

    1:18 - Guest Panelist Tamara Jenkins

    1:50 - Guest Panelist Mira Nair

    2:20 - Guest Panelist Destin Daniel Cretton


Download the list of resources from David Schwab and Sundance Collab

David Schwab, is a screenwriter based in New York City. Since 2014, Mr. Schwab has been an adjunct professor of screen writing at the Graduate Film school at Columbia University. He has also taught at the French film program, La Femis. more...
Tamara Jenkins is the writer and director of the films Private Life, The Savages, Slums of Beverly Hills as well as several award winning shorts. Among the honors she has received are an Academy Award nomination, an Independent Spirit Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Ms. Jenkins attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she received her MFA and met her husband, the screenwriter, Jim Taylor, with whom she occasionally writes. Jenkins lives in NYC with Jim and their daughter, Mia. more...
Destin Daniel Cretton is a Hawaiian-born filmmaker known for his films Short Term 12, The Glass Castle and Just Mercy. He is currently directing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings for Marvel Studios. more...
Academy-Award nominated film director Mira Nair is best known for her groundbreaking films that cross borders of all kinds: SALAAM BOMBAY! (Caméra D’or, Cannes 1988), the pioneering Asian-African romance MISSISSIPPI MASALA (1991), Golden Globe & Emmy-winning HYSTERICAL BLINDNESS (2001), and the international hit MONSOON WEDDING (2001), for which she was the first woman to win Venice Film Festival’s prestigious Golden Lion. Also known for her literary craftsmanship of subcontinental fiction, Mira has filmed THE NAMESAKE (2006), THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (2012), VANITY FAIR (2004), A SUITABLE BOY (2020) and QUEEN OF KATWE (2016). Her most recent endeavor was directing MONSOON WEDDING THE MUSICAL, which opened in New York City in May 2023 and is bound for Broadway. Nair’s next film will be AMRI, an experimental portrait of Amrita Sher-Gil. more...

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