Screenwriting (Barnard and Columbia)

Jul 2004

McKenna can be a real asshole, but he is one of the best professors I've found at Columbia. His nothing-sacred, determinedly un-PC attitude can be off-putting, but if you can't deal with some obnoxious people, why are you in the film industry anyway? Once you get past his demeanor and car metaphors, however, he is a brilliant guy with a ton to offer. I learned more in the first week of his class than in all the Creative Writing Program classes I've taken combined. He rarely lectures, and instead spends most of the time workshopping students' work in a very collaborative atmosphere. He scares off all the dilettantes in the first class by talking about how he doesn't believe in grade inflation, so his classes are filled with serious, motivated writers, and he tends to bring out whatever is wild, nutty, lecherous or ridiculous in the class. This is the only class I've had where students voluntarily stayed late because we weren't done talking! His class becomes like a little family by the end of the semester--the Osbornes. I have taken both his Barnard and Columbia classes; the Columbia class had film grad students in it (who said it was better than their grad classes) as well as people like myself who aren't even film majors. Try to get into his 3-hour Columbia classes if you can; two hours is not enough time.