A Dream of Telling Stories Through Film

Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020

Tisch Professional Courses allow non-degree students, working professionals, and adult learners to further their careers or begin new ones. These non-credit courses, available year-round, are offered online and asynchronously tailored to fit into your existing schedule. 

Sandhya Krishnamurthy took the Tisch Professional Course Writing for the Screen online this summer. Sandhya is a filmmaker based in San Francisco. Read on to learn about her experience in the course.

Image of Sandhya Krishnamurthy

Sandhya Krishnamurthy

Please tell us a little about yourself and what part of the world you are in.

I live in [the] San Francisco Bay area and am a Management Consultant/Product Manager by profession. ‘Everyone has at least one good story that is worth telling,’ or so I’ve read somewhere. While I spend my work days problem-solving in a corporate setting, when [I'm] not working, I dream of telling untold stories from our lives through films.

What was your experience with screenwriting prior to taking Writing for the Screen? Why did you sign up for Writing for the Screen?

I stumbled upon filmmaking by chance in 2017. What started as a simple experiment with a couple of old camcorders/cameras in 2017 led to my writing and directing four no-budget short movies between 2017 and 2019. When my third short movie, My Day, got accepted at several international film festivals and won a special jury award at Albania’s international children’s film festival, I wanted to explore filmmaking as more than a hobby. Since writing is the least expensive, but most important, part of any film, I decided to dedicate time and effort into developing my screenwriting skills. After watching enough YouTube videos on screenwriting, I figured what I needed was guidance and feedback that could be applied to a project I had in mind. That’s when I started looking for online screenwriting courses from reputed film schools that enabled learning from acclaimed screenwriting professionals. When I saw that Tisch’s asynchronous learning course was accepting applications in early May for their summer 2020 course, I jumped at the opportunity and enrolled.

Share a highlight from the course.

I completed a 26-page screenplay for a short movie during the course. It took me at least three rewrites to get it to its current state. Interestingly, though I disliked re-writing every time, I have come to realize the importance of rewriting, thanks to my instructor. He showed me how the script can be improved with every rewrite. (PS: I anticipate rewriting/revising my current draft at least one more time before it is ready for its primetime).

Please tell us about the collaborative assignments with other students and workshop sessions with the instructor.

We did not have any collaborative assignments as a part of this course. However, we had the option of scheduling office hours to discuss our project/script with our instructor, Professor Schulman. His constructive feedback during those office hour discussions helped me choose the appropriate story idea, develop a couple of treatments for that idea and write a screenplay. I really appreciated Professor Schulman’s promptness in reviewing my (several) drafts and his ability to guide me based on my progress/perspective.

How did this workshop prepare you for the next step in your career?

I feel more confident about attempting a feature screenplay now that I have a better grasp of screenplay basics.

How did this workshop's asynchronous, self-paced schedule fit with your daily life?

As a working professional, my weekday schedule is loaded and as a parent, my week days are occupied with family commitments. So, I was looking for courses that allowed asynchronous learning. Further, since I am located on the west coast, synchronous learning scheduled during EST hours would have been a major constraint. [The] asynchronous schedule, along with convenient office hour slots, allowed me to complete my coursework on time and get the best out of the course.

Talk about the benefits of taking this course online.

No doubt attending lectures in-person with in-person discussions, with fellow classmates, would have helped me. But, given my time and distance constraints, I would not [have] been able to attend a NYU Tisch course had it not been offered online. I know that my fellow classmates took this course from different parts of the world. Simply put, the ‘online’ option makes this screenwriting course accessible to any one sitting in any part of the world.

What can future students expect to take away from Writing for the Screen?

As with any course, online or in-person, a student will take away as much as they put into the course. The course curriculum is structured to provide the student several screenwriting tools along with instructional videos on how to use those tools. If the student has seen YouTube videos on screenwriting, like I had, the real value of the course is when the rubber meets the road, i.e., when they start developing the story idea into a screenplay by using those tools. This course allows ample time for a student to complete a screenplay for Act I (with multiple revisions) of a feature screenplay or a complete screenplay of a short film, like I did. I would strongly recommend that students take full advantage of the instructor office hours to get personalized feedback and guidance. That made a huge difference to my learning process.

Tisch Professional Courses are offered throughout the year. Enrollment for fall 2020 Session II is open until October 14, 2020.