Unique programs at York: Screenwriting

Written by Deea Deb

Future Lions, are you still exploring program options to enrol in this year? York offers some really cool programs for you to consider. Today, we are featuring the Screenwriting program, offered by the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design. If you love stories and the language of the moving image is your thing, this program is for you! 

We caught up with Boris Licina, a third-year Screenwriting major to learn more about his experience with the program. 

Why did you choose this program?

“I chose it because I love to write movies, TV shows and games,” says Licina. “It is the only undergraduate screenwriting program in Canada.” 

Screenwriting teaches the art of storytelling, developing, pitching and bringing stories to life on big and small screens. 

Who should join this program? 

“If you are an aspiring writer who wants to write for movies, TV shows or games - then this program is for you!” says Licina.

In Screenwriting, students train across genres and platforms from film to television to emerging media. It’s a super exciting field to be in right now, especially with the rise of streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV and more!

How was your first-year experience?

“My first year was online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but still, it was an amazing experience,” says Licina. “I made two short movies and one was screened at Finish Line  - the annual student showcase.” 

Your first-year courses will primarily be introductory courses in screenwriting and film.  

“I enjoyed Early Cinema to the Coming of Sound: 1895 - 1930 because the assignments were great!” says Licina. “In one of the assignments, I curated early cinema disaster movies, made a program book, created a marketing plan and program trailers. The best trailers were showcased in class.” 

Note: Instructors may change assignments and syllabi from term to term. So, take this with a grain of salt!

Collaboration is a huge part of the program, so most projects are workshopped in teams. Licina’s experience with group work has been amazing.  

“The feedback from my peers was a fantastic learning experience that improved my writing,” he says.  

The program also offers super cool electives! 

“I usually look for electives to upgrade my writing skills and possibly help me break into the gaming industry,” says Licina.

Pro tip: Check out the academic undergraduate calendar for courses, timetables and more! 

Students also have access to the York U Motion Media Studio situated in Cinespace Film Studios, where Academy Award-winning feature films and acclaimed episodic series are filmed, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, The Umbrella Academy, Titans, Chucky, Law & Order among others. 

How should students approach the program?

“Future students should learn more about the admission process and research mandatory classes to ensure it is the right program for them,” Licina recommends. “Also, plan your electives before your first year and choose the ones that will benefit you in the future.”

How can students gain professional and volunteer experience in the program? 

“There are many opportunities, especially when making movies because you can experiment with different roles in a film crew,” says Licina. “I’ve edited, acted and gained professional experience through my classes.” 

The Screenwriting program is very hands-on. Students write screenplays and pitch them to a jury of instructors, who select the pieces to be produced. “When my project was selected for filming, I saw first-hand how my work was interpreted by the director, actors and other crew members,” says Licina.  

You also get the opportunity to work with industry experts and attend master classes with renowned screenwriters, such as Emmy Award-winner David Shore (“House”), Karen Walton (“Orphan Black,” “The Listener,” “Queer as Folk”) and more.

Licina is very excited about his prospects. “I will graduate with many short movies I wrote (some of which were produced) and scripts for a feature film and TV show, both under the supervision of screenwriters who worked on Oscar-nominated movies or wrote for Netflix,” he says. 

Don’t forget to check out our posts on the Integrative Arts and English & Professional Writing programs! 

What are you waiting for? Apply to Screenwriting today!