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The Practical Visionary: Create a major project and kickstart your career

The plan for the David Lynch MA in Film is to support each student in a voyage from ideas to completion of a major project with the possibility of distribution in one academic year.

The goal is to give aspiring filmmakers the time, equipment and the guidance to follow their own vision and create films that have an impact and transform the world. Students may create feature-length films, Web video series, TV pilots, documentaries, and music or multidisciplinary projects that contain a strong film element. Candidates lacking extensive filmmaking experience, but skilled in other artistic mediums, will also be able to integrate film with their dominant art form.

Cody Olivas on the David Lynch MA in film       &      Why Fairfield, Iowa?

The David Lynch MA in Film Courses

MC500 Advanced Narrative

Firm is cool. Yeah yeah yeah! Here are some people and a camera.

Professor Stuart Tanner and students, shooting with the department’s RED ONE camera.

In this course students will examine the essential role of narrative in the creation of film and all forms of media. They will practice writing exercises to overcome creative blocks and expand their abilities to construct a plot, develop characters, handle style, and manage a story’s main themes. Students will begin to develop their ideas for a major project, on which they’ll continue to work for the entire school year.

MC520 Advanced Screenwriting

Students will explore the art of screenwriting with the goal of producing a filmable script. They will study a number of models, including films, film clips, and published screenplays. Before beginning to write the screenplay, students will create a premise, a series of structure-­steps, definitive descriptions of the protagonist and antagonist, and a scene outline.

MC530 Acting For Film

In this class students will develop their skills in acting for film, casting and auditioning actors, and directing actors for film. The goal of the class is to explore multiple approaches for both actors and directors in bringing out exciting performances.

MC550 The Frame

On the set of a student feature film

On the set of a student feature film

This course investigates the power of two elements of filmmaking: image and sound. This course will deepen students’ understanding of the work of a wide range of filmmakers, photographers, and directors who have used image and sound in diverse ways. Students will undertake project work so that they can experiment with fresh strategies gained from studying the work of others, and enhance their own filmmaking.

MC582 The Field

This course will expose students to the critical experience of working in the field via a field trip or an internship. The central goal of the course is to give students the experience of working in a real-world environment and dealing with all the challenges that arise on a location shoot.

MC581 Advanced Video Media Project

This three-month course in advanced filmmaking gives students the chance to complete a major project with continuing advice, mentorship, and guidance from faculty, giving their careers a substantial head start. Students will effectively be working as directors and/or producers for a movie studio.

MC590 The Media Market

This course will guide students in how to approach agents, publishers, television companies, studios, and producers, and how to connect to large audiences in the Internet age, in order to successfully launch their work in the public arena.

The David Lynch MA in Film Faculty


Professor Tanner is an acclaimed producer and director of documentary films for the BBC, National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, and others. His projects include Time Team (2004), Children of Vengeance (2002), Profits of Doom (2001), Death on the Silk Road (1999), The Mahogany Trail (1996), and, most recently, Saving The Disposable Ones (2011), a documentary that takes you to the heartbreaking streets of inner city Columbia, where Father Gabriel Mejia, a Catholic priest, is transforming the lives of thousands of children by providing shelter, love and Transcendental Meditation® program.


Professor Leete is the co-author of 11 books on popular software applications, including eight books on the Web animation software package Flash, and he has published 19 essays about the frontiers of computing. His books have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Russian and Spanish. He is an award-winning graphics software engineer. Prior to joining faculty at MUM, he worked as a 3-D animator for the magician Doug Henning. He is currently writing a book on the powerful, free 3-D software package, Blender.


Cullen Thomas worked as a producer for David Lynch Foundation Television for more than two years, where he helped produce several documentaries, including Change Begins Within, which featured David Lynch, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Jerry Seinfeld, and others. He has worked on feature films for several production houses. As an undergaduate, he co-wrote and produced Wormtooth Nation, a feature film released as a Web series in 2008. Recently, he wrote and directed the feature-length comedy-drama The Vindication of Ronald Clay & Other Fables for a Rainy Day, which is currently winning multiple awards at film festivals.


Other leaders in the field of film and the creative industries will join David Lynch as guest speakers and adjunct faculty during the new MA.