Department of Cinematic Arts

Mission Statement

The Department of Cinematic Arts fosters a learning community dedicated to the creative and scholarly principles of visual storytelling. Integrating mastery of craft with spiritual growth and the development of meaningful collaboration, the department encourages transformational art from a culturally engaged Christian worldview.

Department Overview

The department offers a Master of Arts in Screenwriting, a low-residency program that prepares writers with literary talent and strong motivation to tell substantive stories that point audiences toward truth and beauty while exploring the dialogue between faith and cinematic arts.

Cinematic arts faculty are working professionals who have collectively accumulated hundreds of industry credits and who are passionate about mentoring students as they hone their craft. Azusa Pacific University’s proximity to Hollywood allows students to benefit from collaborative opportunities and learn from visiting professionals.

Department facilities include an edit lab equipped with 21 work stations, a 70-seat screening room outfitted with DTS-HD 7.1 digital surround sound, a 1,500-square-foot sound stage that includes a green screen and Foley stage, and a 1,450-square-foot equipment distribution center stocked with professional production equipment. The department is an Avid Learning Partner and teaches Avid postproduction workflows exclusively.

Cinematic Arts Program Learning Outcomes

Department faculty train and mentor students in production, writing, criticism, animation, and entertainment management, combining artistic excellence with scholarship. Students learn how to do the following:


Apply principles of cinematic storytelling to creative and analytical works.

Technical Practice

Demonstrate proficiency in the aesthetic, practical, and technical aspects of production, writing, criticism, animation, or entertainment management.


Articulate, critique, and apply the historical, social, and theoretical contexts of the cinematic arts.

Professional Development

Implement the protocol, vocabulary, and work ethic necessary for professional careers.


Serve and participate as a member of a creative team in leadership and/or supporting roles to meet project goals.


Integrate an understanding of Christian faith through critical, creative, and collaborative endeavors.

SCW 501, Cinematic Arts and Culture, 3 Units

A study of film and television's roles as culture shapers. Students will consider issues of faith, ethics, and social justice and their relationship to cinematic arts. Particular emphasis will be placed on spiritual, artistic, and community development.

SCW 519, Directing for Screenwriters, 3 Units

An in-depth workshop/lecture demonstration on pre-production, production, and post-production processes and the aesthetics of film and video. The course will emphasize dramatic form and mechanics of story, including use of design, cinematographic, sound, and editorial crafts to communicate a coherent vision among producers, crew, and cast. Students will apply knowledge of these subjects in a collaborative working environment.

SCW 520, Script Analysis for Screenplays and Teleplays, 3 Units

Students in this course analyze feature films and television series from the screenwriter's point of view via an in-depth study of each story's dramaturgical elements. This study deepens the understanding of these principles and techniques for each student's own creative work.

SCW 575, Screenwriting: Story and Character, 3 Units

This course focuses on dramaturgical principles needed to write for film and television. Building on Aristotelian three-act structure, students learn to create dimensional characters and craft narratives suitable for visual storytelling. Particular emphasis is placed on theme, genre, scene, and sequence construction.

SCW 595, Entertainment Production, 3 Units

This seminar course will provide students with a working knowledge in key phases of entertainment production - development, financing, production management, and marketing. Entertainment industry professionals will supplement classroom instruction by delivering guest lectures and/or participating in panel discussions.

SCW 611, Adaptation for Film and Television, 3 Units

Students in this course explore using source material-such as true stories, myths, fairy tales, and classic literature-to create screenplay and teleplay adaptations. Through screenings, readings, lectures, and exercises, students examine the process and efficacy of taking stories that originated in one medium and making them suitable for film or television.

SCW 615, Web Series Development and Production, 3 Units

In this workshop class, students study and practice the essential elements and conventions for developing, writing, and producing an original web series. Topics include concept, structure, character, and target audience, as well as marketing and distribution of the web series. Students create a three-episode web series and shoot, edit, and screen the pilot episode.

Prerequisite: SCW 519

SCW 685, Writing the Feature Screenplay, 3 Units

This seminar course focuses on the integration of dramaturgical principles of story and character development as students write an original, feature-length screenplay. They also examine classic films from the canon of American cinema to gain an enhanced understanding of narrative and learn to implement constructive criticism from peers and the course instructor.

SCW 687, Writing the Drama Pilot, 3 Units

This course focuses on the creation of an original, dramatic television series. Each student will create a series bible that defines the concept, major characters, and brief descriptions for season one episodes. During the semester, the instructor will lead a virtual writers room as student peers provide feedback as each writes a pilot episode. In addition, the course will explore current trends in broadcast, cable, and streaming television services.

SCW 688, Writing the Comedy Pilot, 3 Units

This course focuses on the creation of an original, comedic television series. Each student creates a series bible defining the concept and major characters and containing brief descriptions for season-one episodes. During the semester, the instructor leads a virtual writers room as student peers provide feedback as each writes a pilot episode. In addition, the course explores current trends in broadcast, cable, and streaming television services.

SCW 699, Screenplay/Teleplay Portfolio Workshop, 3 Units

This course prepares second-year students to submit a portfolio of screenplays and/or teleplays to agents, managers, or producers for representation and/or employment opportunities. The course instructor matches each student with a professional screenwriter who helps ensure that work in the portfolio is commercially viable. In addition, students explore marketing strategies-such as blogs, social media, and building a brand-and their usefulness in starting a career in the entertainment industry.

Prerequisite: SCW 685, SCW 687 or SCW 688, and instructor permission.


Department Chair

Gregory Michael, MFA

Professor and Director, M.A. in Screenwriting

Thomas D. Parham, Ph.D.

Assistant Professors

Gregory Michael, MFA

Jesse Negron, MFA

Adjunct Professors

James W. Lincoln, M.A.

Philip Lollar, MFA

Cheryl McKay Price, M.A.

Jonathan Vermeer, MPW


Sheryl J. Anderson, B.A.

Brian L. Davidson, B.S.

Leilani Downer, B.A.

Anthony Epling, M.A.