Leading the way for the next generation of well-rounded writers
After years of development, Missouri State’s department of media, journalism, and film has begun its first semester of classes for the new dramatic writing MFA program. The program was approved and announced in Spring 2020 and adds a unique set of opportunities for graduate students. An MFA is the highest degree a writer or filmmaker can receive and is considered mastery in that field. What makes this program unique is the curriculum, which allows students to write, produce, and direct both on screen and on stage. At least 20 new courses were created for this program, in addition to utilizing 15 existing courses. The creation of the MFA was spearheaded by Associate Professor Rich Amberg and Instructor, now Program Director, Cristina Pippa.
“We believe that writers are needed to tell diverse stories to diverse audiences across multiple platforms and screens.” – Cristina Pippa
Cristina Pippa: Playwright, Filmmaker, Novelist, Program Director
In addition to receiving numerous awards for her work, Pippa has a wide range of experience across writing and production. After spending time as a master’s student at the University of Iowa Playwright’s Workshop, she has spent time recruiting talent for art schools, working with professional writers on their scripts and teaching at various colleges. She hopes to evoke some of the experience she had during her MFA for current students, saying about her program, “I keep thinking about how meaningful it was for me to have that time and space to focus on my writing and to connect with industry professionals.”
Amelia, a short film Pippa wrote and co-directed was featured at several international film festivals and received the Golden Gateway Award at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2019. She’s also co-created “Nova” which is part of a larger series, and wrote and co-directed the short films “The Last Job” and “Under One Roof”. Off screen, she’s written two novels both in the publishing process, and has written a number of plays such as “LITTLE BOSNIA” and “Cell Cycle”, which is available in print. When asked if she had a preference between novel, playwriting and screenwriting, she said “I love writing plays, screenplays, and novels for different reasons… I’m also always exploring how I can adapt my work from one media to another.”
“I love directing and being on set. That moment of walking into a room that was previously in my head and then working with an actor to find moments I hadn’t even dreamed of is like writing in 3-D.” – Cristina Pippa
Currently, Pippa is working on a number of different projects and teaching the first session of Screenwriting Fundamentals for the new dramatic writing students. Production has been postponed for the short film “Unmanned” she co-wrote with Assistant Professor Jon Mabee. Pippa was set to direct the short with Assistant Professor Joy Millana on board as producer, but production is being reimagined for COVID-19 times and it’s uncertain when it will resume. On stage, she’s been commissioned by Stages Theatre Company to write a stage musical adaptation of “What Do You Do With an Idea?” for production in 2021. This project is accompanied by singer-songwriter Sharon Kenny, who is a longtime collaborator of Pippa. Throughout the summer, the pair have also developed a narrative fiction podcast series and rewritten a feature screenplay.