San Francisco’s Academy of Art University Enlists Entertainment Industry Veterans to Lead Its New School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media

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Academy of Art University announces the launch of its new School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media, an intensive writing program that offers BFA and MFA degrees on-campus and online.

Academy of Art University announces the launch of its new School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media, an intensive writing program that offers BFA and MFA degrees on-campus and online.

Created by industry veteran Robert Keats, who will oversee the program as executive director, the School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media provides aspiring writers with an extensive curriculum that covers ideation, imagination, story, structure, character development, dialogue, pitching skills and production.

“Our goal is to offer students the most in-depth and comprehensive program in writing for the entertainment industry. It’s about giving students the skill set to tell compelling stories that elicit emotion and are visual on the page. And in the process it’s about helping them take their imagination to new levels and finding their unique voice,” said Keats.

Students in both the BFA and MFA programs complete feature-length screenplays, television scripts for current shows as well as spec pilots, and work as staff writers on two web series. Students who demonstrate the best writing and leadership skills have the opportunity to become show runners on the second series.

“What makes our program unique is that we offer the training it takes to create professional quality scripts and give our on-campus students the opportunity to take those scripts into production,” said Academy of Art University President Dr. Elisa Stephens.

Robert Keats, who began teaching at the university in 2008, has written for film and television since the 1970s. His work in television includes Happy Days, The Love Boat, The Ellen Burstyn Show, Buck Henry’s comedy sci-fi Quark, and the adaptation of Down and Out in Beverly Hills. He has also written and produced pilots for networks, cable and premium channels including the HBO presentation Women Without Men, which was produced in association with Lorne Michaels’ company, Broadway Video. In film, Keats has written screenplays for studios including MGM, Columbia and Warner Bros.

The new program features a faculty of award-winning writers in both film and television.

Emmy Award-winning writer Ken Estin was a show runner on Taxi and Cheers. He also created The Tracey Ullman Show with James L. Brooks. The characters Estin developed with Matt Groening for the show’s animated segments evolved into The Simpsons, the longest running comedy series in television history. In film, he rewrote the script for Eddie Murphy’s blockbuster comedy, Beverly Hills Cop. Along with his two Emmy Awards, and 11 nominations, Estin has also won the Writers Guild of America Award.

Bob Pool’s credits include Outbreak and Armageddon, which between them have generated more than $700 million in box office revenues worldwide. During a film and television career that has spanned more than 30 years, Pool has written for Warner Bros., Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone. His work in television includes projects for CBS, ABC, UPN and Showtime. Pool has worked with many high profile actors including Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones.

Ellen Myers Fontana co-wrote the Showtime Australia miniseries Cloudstreet, which was nominated for eight Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts Awards. Fontana also worked in feature film development at 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures and Universal, where she worked with director Martin Brest on the Robert De Niro comedy, Midnight Run. In non-fiction, she wrote Audrey 100, a photo biography of Audrey Hepburn and co-authored The Audrey Hepburn Treasures, a New York Times best seller.

James Egan is an award-winning writer-producer whose documentary Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins is currently being filmed in association with Robert Redford’s Sundance Productions. With best-selling author Michael Connelly (The Lincoln Lawyer), Egan recently produced the jazz documentary Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story. Working with Participant Media, he produced Angels in the Dust, which won the Amnesty International VARA Award for Social Justice. Egan also teamed up with writer-director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) to executive produce Kimjongilia.

Courses at the School of Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media begin September 4, 2014.

About Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University, the largest private university of art and design in the United States, is educating students for the art and design jobs of the 21st century. Established in 1929, the Academy is an output-based higher education model that provides an inclusive admissions policy to all students, but imposes a rigorous curriculum that requires the students to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrates a mastery of their field in order to graduate. Students are taught by a faculty of professionals from the existing marketplace, both online and on campus in San Francisco, who provide them with an understanding of what it takes to succeed in today’s business environment. The Academy’s hands-on curriculum produces graduates who possess outstanding artistic and design skills—and equally as important, the ability to put those talents to work immediately after graduation. As a result, Academy graduates are ready to compete for and win the jobs of the 21st century in the fields of Acting, Advertising, Animation & Visual Effects, Architecture, Art Education, Art History, Fashion, Fashion Journalism, Fashion Styling, Fine Art, Game Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Industrial Design, Interior Architecture & Design, Jewelry & Metal Arts, Landscape Architecture, Motion Pictures & Television, Multimedia Communications, Music Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, Photography, Visual Development, Web Design & New Media and Art Teaching Credential and Writing for Film, Television & Digital Media. Academy of Art University is accredited by WASC, NASAD, Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) (BFA/MFA-IAD), NAAB (B-ARCH*, M-ARCH), and California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). *B-ARCH program in candidacy status.

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Jennifer Blot