Morgan State University offers the Bachelor of Arts, and the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Screenwriting and Animation (SWAN). SWAN is Morgan’s cinematic arts and sciences major with focus areas (or tracks) in (1) Computer Animation, (2) Film and Television Writing, (3) Integrated Media Writing and Animation. The degree combines theory and practice and integrates production and hands-on field experience in filmmaking and content creation. In this program, you’ll build a foundation in all aspects of filmmaking and visual storytelling including animation.
The B.A. and B.F.A. in Screenwriting and Animation (SWAN) encourages and stimulates students to value film as a distinct art form and collaborative discipline that is the dominant foundation of storytelling in the 21st Century. SWAN is designed to provide students the framework of the liberal arts and humanities to engage the discourse that is possible when film or cinema is examined across disciplines. Coursework is designed for students to demonstrate a working knowledge of visual storytelling, story structure, and story analysis. Students are trained to understand the essential functions and roles on a film set - and have the ability to work collaboratively in that structure. Students are taught technical proficiency in a specific filmmaking discipline (screenwriting, animation, editing, cinematography, or hybrid media encompassing game design and digital illustration for graphic novels and comics.
Speak and write fluently in film language, developed through critical essays and visual production exercise.
Majors follow a course of study that is designed to:
- deliver quality instruction in the craft of film and TV content production and post-production from fundamental to specialized competencies;
- introduce cinematic masterworks and theory and practice with respect to the historical and cultural aspects of its global evolution through innovations in technology;
- refine the ability of students to critique and analyze film narrative form, and to write for film and television from concept through revisions;
- link computer science, business, and other interdisciplinary fields of study to the applied practice of filmmaking and content production;
- combine animation as cinematic expression extending to computer games and graphic comics;
- provide professional location and sound stage field experience including internships, service projects, and collaborations with notable filmmakers and producers through our visiting artists program;
- prepare students for versatility in the motion picture television entertainment business, and for sustainable careers and entrepreneurship across diverse segments of industry as writers, artists, and content makers of film and TV in a digital era;
- build portfolios and cultivate scholarship for future graduate studies including MFA and doctoral research degrees;
- integrate technology and emphasize storytelling and content production with respect to techniques and processes best described as the cinematic arts and sciences.
- explore and exhume the pioneering work of Black female and male filmmakers from the silent era to talkies and race films, to studio and independent production, to integrationist periods, the film school generation, to Black Action Films, and contemporary cinema.
SWAN faculty are practitioners and entrepreneurs with years of professional experience across industry as authors, filmmakers, producers, directors, screenwriters, editors, animators, and game developers.
The degree requires that students complete 68 credits in the major and in supporting courses. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree requires students to complete six credits in the same foreign language at the 200-level as a part of their degree requirements. The Department of World Languages and International Studies determines students’ competency to take courses at the specified level. The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) Degree requires students to complete six credits of approved SWAN elective practical studio courses as a substitution for the foreign language requirement.
SWAN courses are sequenced to develop students as filmmakers and storytellers who write, produce, direct, shoot, and edit their work. The increasingly complex work that students create over their time as majors is essential for spearheading their careers and building their portfolios.
As seniors, SWAN majors must complete a year-long studio workshop beginning in the Fall and ending in Spring. This two-course sequence culminates with a capstone film or other original work overseen at all stages by SWAN faculty. Everything you learn will be used to create a thesis project in your senior year. This project will be a major component of your professional portfolio and serve as demonstrated skill sets for future work in the creative industry.
Each concentration for the major shares gateway and core requirements required for the study of film as an expressive and collaborative art form and practice. All concentrations emphasize visual storytelling, moving image content production, and film and TV writing for diverse segments of industry including entertainment, education, and business. All tracks emphasize critical thinking and collaborative problem solving that is central to filmmaking.
Where concentrations differ has to do with professional craft and practitioner techniques required for specialization, including the electives that augment skills such as cinematography, editing, and directing.
- The Computer Animation Concentration requires courses in computer science, 2D and 3D animation, motion design, storyboarding, web design, multimedia scripting, and gaming.
- The Film and Television Writing Concentration requires greater immersion in applied theory and practice in writing and content production (shooting, editing, directing and producing) for film/TV and multimedia.
- The Integrated Media Writing and Animation Concentration requires courses in drawing and 2D and 3D animation, comics, and fiction and creative non-fiction, for an approach to storytelling that factors in popular culture, transmedia, and mobile screens in a marketplace where stories exist in multiple formats.
Screenwriting and Animation (SWAN) majors are expected to work closely with their advisors to choose their electives in order to design a program that best serves their career goals. The interdisciplinary major requires courses in different departments of the College of Liberal Arts, and also in the School of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (SCMS). With the approval of an advisor, electives for the major can also be taken in other schools, including the School of Business and Management,, home to the Entrepreneurial Development and Assistance Center (EDAC).
Requirements for the B.A. and B.F.A Degrees in Screenwriting and Animation
A minimum of 120 credit hours are required to graduate with a B. A. or a B.F.A in Screenwriting and Animation. These credit hours are distributed as follows:
General Education and University Requirements 44
Liberal Arts Core Requirements 6
Supporting/Gateway Course Requirements 10
Required Courses for the Screenwriting and Animation Major 45
Required Concentration Courses 15
Total Credits 120