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Media, Journalism & Film Department Blog

MJF professor: Screenwriting success comes with compassion, flexibility and hard work

Rich Amberg is the coordinator of the screenwriting programs in the department of media, journalism and film. He is also an award-winning working professional.

Photo by Bob Linder, MSU Photo Services
Photo by Bob Linder, MSU Photo Services

A working writer

Since joining Missouri State in 2013, Amberg has used his industry knowledge to help emerging writers develop their skills and learn to navigate the industry.

He encourages humility and perspective. “Everyone in this business is working hard, and no one came to Los Angeles with the goal of making someone else’s dream come true. It’s important to be kind to other people and assume that everyone’s doing their best. And when the planets align and a project works, it’s great.”

In addition to teaching, Amberg continues to work.

He has completed contracts with Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. He makes regular trips to Los Angeles, where he meets with contacts at film, TV and Web entertainment companies, including Nickelodeon, Amazon and Awesomeness TV. His work has been recognized with a number of awards, including Best of Competition in Faculty Scriptwriting at the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts.

Read Amberg’s full story — written by Lucie Amberg — in the upcoming issue of Mind’s Eye, MSU’s faculty research publication. 

MSU’s screenwriting options

Missouri State has options to minor in screenwriting, get a screenwriting graduate certificate or earn a master’s degree in producing and screenwriting.

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The Standard’s new editor-in-chief expects to shake things up this year

The printing presses for Missouri State’s The Standard will be back in action soon as the student-run newspaper heads into the fall semester with incoming Editor-in-Chief Nicole Roberts at the helm.

Nicole Roberts edits her first issue as The Standard's new editor-in-chief.
Nicole Roberts edits her first issue as The Standard’s new editor-in-chief.

Roberts hopes her experience will guide positive change

Roberts, a senior print and Internet journalism major, is from Rolla, Missouri. She graduated high school from nearby Vienna, Missouri.

After an extensive application process last April, Roberts was appointed to the editor-in-chief position by MSU’s Advisory Board for Student Publications.

She has been on staff at The Standard since May 2014, first as a reporter and then as a news editor. She says she’ll use that experience to make a few changes to the paper this year.

In this Q&A, Roberts talks about those changes, what she looks forward to as editor-in-chief, or EIC, and more.

What are you most excited for as EIC this year?

I’m really excited to watch everyone on staff develop their skills and go out of their comfort zones. I always feel proud when someone on staff learns something new, whether it be an unique way to write an article, a different way to shoot photos, or a cool way to design a page for the newspaper.

Has anyone given you advice yet for how to do the job?

I received advice from Jack Dimond (The Standard’s faculty advisor), editors at The Standard, professors, friends and my parents. I guess the best advice was from my mom … She told me to act like how I would want an editor-in-chief to act. This advice forces me to ask myself, “If I were a reporter or content editor, would I want my editor-in-chief to do this?”

Are you planning any changes to the paper this year?

There are two things I really want to focus on this year.

The first thing is improving interaction with students, faculty, staff and The Standard’s readers in general.

I don’t want people to view The Standard as this mystical paper that suddenly appears on Tuesdays and that’s it. I want readers to see that people at The Standard are working throughout the week — not just Monday nights — to create a good paper.

These interactions will also help The Standard staff hear more from students, faculty and staff on their thoughts about things going on around campus and Springfield.

The second thing is I’m putting an emphasis on multimedia this year. The editors have been throwing around ideas on how to improve our social media presence and how to incorporate other media into The Standard articles.

We live in a world of media, so why not take advantage of that?

Photo by Missouri State University Photographic Services

Why should the campus community care about The Standard?

The Standard is a great way for the Missouri State community to learn about what’s going on around campus. I know that is a pretty stereotypical answer, but it really is true.

There are four sections in the newspaper: news, life, sports and opinion. That means there is a lot of information in all four of those sections that students might be interested in or benefit from.

The Standard is also a great way to build connections with other people at Missouri State.

For example, last semester, I wrote an article about a new radio station that may be coming to campus. Afterward, I had someone ask me for the contact information of the four students I talked to in the article because she wanted to figure out a way to join the radio station they were working on.

That connection might not have happened if I hadn’t pursued that story.

Nicole-Roberts-TheStandard-620x620What do you want to do after graduation?

That’s the million-­dollar question. Like almost all college students, I’m not 100 percent sure, honestly.

Part of me wants to write about psychology or world news since I’m very interested in those two things. The other part of me wants to do something where I write articles while traveling abroad.

Part of me wants to write for a magazine. Another part of me wants to write for a newspaper.

I guess the best answer I can give is that I would really like to write for a news magazine like The Week, but I know that the chances of doing something like that right out of college are slim, so I’ll probably try to write for a local newspaper and work my way up the ladder.

There are so many options, and I want to try almost all of them.

What advice do you have for students interested in working for The Standard?

I would say to throw away any of their fears about joining The Standard and just do it.

I had never written for a newspaper or even taken a journalism class until I joined The Standard, and to be honest, I was absolutely terrified when I first started working here because I had very little experience. I thought for sure that I had gotten myself into something that was way over my head. Now, two years later, I’m so glad that little freshman Nicole decided to take a leap of faith and join The Standard. 

If students want to join The Standard, they can contact Jack Dimond, the advisor for The Standard. When students join, they will go through this training process where they will learn how to write articles, interview people, use correct AP style, and so on. Once they get done with the training, they become part of The Standard staff and will start writing articles for the newspaper on a weekly basis.

*Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length or clarity.

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MSU students net awards at MBEA competition

Missouri State students won numerous awards at the 2016 Missouri Broadcast Education Association Student Competition. Here is the complete list of MSU winners.

1st place


“Paradox,” Josh Pfaff, Samantha Rohde, Andrew Westmaas, Logan Sparlin and Kong Thao

Dramatic Script

“Ice Cream Truck,” Walker Smith

Intermediate Film

“What Makes Us Human,” Brian Schwabauer, Graham Haerther, Jordan Ousley and Zach Eastin

Honorable mention


“Show-Me Chefs,” Jared Long, Elijah Kleinsmith

Video Commercial

“Show-Me Chefs” Trailer, Dan Feldsian, Solita Day, Brian Light and Victor Brown

Multi-Camera Live Event 

“Show-Me Chefs,” Daan Jansen, Alexandra Perez Diaz, Chelsea Eichholz, Meghan Socha, Courtney Youssef, Lauren Johnson, Patrick Bandy, Megan Morris

Video Documentary/Public Affairs

“High Hoax: DIYing to Exist,” Austin Baker, Lief Derrickson, Max Walling, Taye Taye

Dramatic Script

“Counting to 1000,” Josh Pfaff, Becca Thompson

Intermediate Film

“Dead on Time,” Sara Silkwood, Jacob Martin, Alex Scott, Logan Fritts, Josh Pfaff, Becca Thompson, Daan Jansen

Special Programs

“TAR – Making the Video Game,” Dalton Robbins, Micheal Eckelkamp, Chris Buynak, Curtis Henderson, Sara Mantooth, Britney Frerking

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The Standard wraps up year with numerous awards

Missouri State’s student-run newspaper, The Standard, won several awards this year. Here is a preview of those awards.

The Standard

Missouri College Media Association

Newspaper Division I

1st place

  • Feature photography, Ryan Welch
  • Special section/supplemental, The Standard staff

2nd place

  • Sports photography, Ryan Welch
  • Special section/supplemental, The Standard staff

3rd place

  • Best overall newspaper, The Standard
  • News photography, Emily McTavish
  • Sports photography, Maddy Cushman
  • Story illustration, Nic Deckard
  • Page one design, The Standard staff
  • Sports page, The Standard staff
  • Info graphic, Nicole Roberts and Rebecca Biundo

Honorable mention

  • Website, The Standard
  • Video, Eli Wohlenhaus and Bart Anders

Society of Professional Journalists college contest

Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska)


  • Best all-around nondaily student newspaper, The Standard
  • General news reporting (large schools, 10,000+ students), Han Zhao and Nicole Roberts

College Media Business and Advertising Managers national contest

2nd place

  • Best display ad – color, The Standard
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MJF professor’s film debuts at the Moxie on May 7

A downsized and sustainable lifestyle — it’s the new American Dream, one not without its challenges as cities struggle with twenty-first century problems. How can Springfield, Missouri, achieve this walkable urbanism Baby Boomers and Millennials are looking for?

Dr. Andy Cline, associate professor in media, journalism and film, highlights those issues in his new film “Downtown.”


‘Downtown’ premieres May 7

The feature-length film features work from many Missouri State students that Cline enlisted to help him. It premieres at 1 p.m. May 7 at the Moxie Cinema. Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the theatre.

‘Shared Spaces’ offered preview of new film

Before completing the feature-length version, Cline used some of the footage for a short film called “Shared Spaces,” which debuted at the Moxie in September 2015 to a sold-out crowd. The following month, it was screened at the New Urban Film Festival.

Turning this experience into an MSU course

Cline said his work on “Downtown” has inspired him to incorporate documentary filmmaking into his work as an educator. He’s developing two new film projects to work on with students as part of classes offered at Missouri State, including a a study away trip to film the Trans-Siberian Railway.

See ‘Downtown’ at the Moxie

Date: May 7
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Moxie Cinema, 305 S. Campbell Ave., Suite 101
Tickets: $7-$9

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Film, media and broadcast students’ work featured in MJF Showcase

Digital film, media production and broadcast journalism students will display their work at the 19th annual Media, Journalism and Film Student Showcase on May 10.


Students in MJF and electronic arts won eight awards at the national Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts this year. Some of that work will be shown at this showcase event.

Come to the event

19th Annual MJF Student Showcase

When: May 10, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Where: Plaster Student Union Theater
Admission: Free and open to the public

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Electronic arts seniors screen thesis films at annual showcase

Seniors in the electronic arts program will showcase their culminating works at the Electronic Arts Student Showcase on May 9. The event will feature three senior thesis films and other short, creative work produced by electronic arts students. The senior thesis films include:

Counting to 1000

Good and evil is not always black and white. Detective Callow examines this gray area while investigating a gruesome, botched home robbery attempted by Donny, a low level criminal, and his merciless crew. During an interrogation, Donny and Detective Callow piece together what went wrong with what should have been an easy job, and discover that the intentions of those involved are not at all as they appear.


  • Josh Pfaff, director and writer
  • Samantha Rohde, co-producer
  • Logan Sparlin, creative director
  • Joshua Moore, sound designer
  • Andrew Westmaas, co-producer and sound designer


  • STAR Award for Outstanding Collaboration Program, Missouri State University
  • 2nd place, Student Scriptwriting Competition – Short Subject, 2016 BEA Festival of Media Arts
  • 3rd Place, Student Promotional Video, 2016 BEA Festival of Media Arts
  • Honorable Mention, Dramatic Script, 2016 MBEA Awards

Bad beat

Liz has lived with her abusive father her entire life. From a young age, she has had a power that she cannot control — the supernatural ability to tell if someone is lying. Her father, a Las Vegas pawn shop owner, uses her gift for his own gain in a high stakes poker game that could spell trouble.


  • Ryan Huegerich, writer and director
  • Ben Vossmeyer, producer and sound designer
  • Eric Roberts, special effects and script supervisor


  • Honorable Mention, 2016 BEA Awards


Max, a local DJ, spends his nights headlining nightclubs and concerts in hopes of becoming the next big thing in the trance world. After an unfortunate accident, Max loses his hearing. He has to find a way to cope with his new disability and continue his career.


  • Kong Thao, writer and producer
  • Hillary Huong Vu, visual effects coordinator
  • Vicky Hedgecock, animator
  • Kelly Meyer, co-producer and animator
  • Colin Robertson, score composer
  • Alex Lee, composer

See the films and hear from filmmakers

17th Annual Electronic Arts Student Showcase

When: May 9, 7-9 p.m.
Where: Plaster Student Union Theater
Admission: Free and open to the public


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Students learn about storytelling in media intersession course

Students who want to analyze contemporary movies and TV shows for credit this summer should check out the summer summer intersession course, MED 300: Storytelling Across All Media.

Rich Amberg, assistant professor in media, journalism and film, will teach the class, which runs from May 16 to June 3.


Learn how story models work across media

Rich-AmbergAmberg said students will learn to apply the fundamentals of storytelling to film, TV, web content, new media, and includes both scripted and unscripted content. To do that, they will watch many films and shows, from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” to “Kill Bill” to “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

“We’ll pull them apart to see how they work in different story models. We’ll then be applying those storytelling skills to all forms of media — news stories, videogames, advertising, social media, documentaries, etc.”

Amberg noted that strong storytelling skills are in high demand in the workforce, but often difficult to find.

Sign up for the class

MED 300: Storytelling Across All Media

May 16 to June 3
Monday-Friday, 1-5 p.m.

Interested students should contact Amberg by email.

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Student video illustrates the MSU experience

Taking inspiration from the “Draw My Life” video trend, a group of students in Lucie Amberg’s course MED 130, Fundamentals of Media Convergence, used a class assignment to share their Missouri State stories.

Collaboration, multimedia skills lead to dynamic video

The six students — Alec Gura, Carter Williams, Collin O’Hara, Megan Burke, Hill Zhang and Ryan Chaney — created the video for their final group project that punctuated the skills they’ve learned this semester in collaboration and multimedia  — audio, video, web and social media, Amberg said.

“(The course) introduces the foundational skills to start thinking collaboratively … and understanding how you fit into a larger team as a media professional, the roles you’ll play and the media you’ll be working with.”

The course is required for all media, journalism and film students.

Students’ stories resonate with university

Lucie Amberg
Lucie Amberg

Amberg said all her students produced noteworthy work, but this video particularly hits on something that resonates with the department: Why is Missouri State and the media, journalism and film department a great place for students?

The topic is also close to Amberg’s heart. In addition to teaching courses, she works for the for the university as a new media specialist, often responsible for developing recruitment materials.

She did not, however, influence the content of the video. Instead, she offered broad instructions for the assignment — everyone has to contribute to a timed multimedia project that incorporates storytelling techniques — and let them go to work.

“I saw them at the whiteboard, doing their thing, and I asked them if they wanted me to know what they were doing or just see the end product. They wanted me to wait,” she said. “It came together beautifully. And it turned out to be a great recruitment piece for MSU.”

What is your MSU story?

Find the College of Arts and Letters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your MSU experiences.

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