Collaboration and creation: studying Screen Producing at the VCA

The Masters of Screen Producing at the VCA teaches real-world applicable skills and will leave you with two industry ready projects.

The Master of Screen Producing is a post-graduate degree at the Victorian College of the Arts, and after recently being refined, it looks like an ideal qualification for emerging Australian film & TV producers.

Providing the essential skills and experience required to create job-ready graduates in the film and TV industry, the Master of Screen Producing is a two-year course open to both students who have completed a relevant undergraduate degree, or working professionals in the industry who are looking to upskill.

How it works

Course coordinators have spent a number of years devising and revising what is delivered under the Masters, how students will learn the key skills, and what the measurable outcomes will be.

‘We see producing as an organic interplay between the creative, the practical and the business elements of making a screen project. We use the terminology “screen project” because we’re enabling students to develop skills that apply across all screen platforms :cinema, television, streaming, or any other form of online content,’ said Stephen Luby, Lecturer in Film & TV (Producing) at the VCA.

Luby, who will deliver the course alongside Dr. Donna Lyon, is a Melbourne-based screen producer with quite the prolific career under his belt. He began producing on sketch comedy series such as Full Frontal, Jimeoin and Big Girl’s Blouse, before moving into film (Crackerjack) and drama series (The Secret River) production.

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‘We have a lot of fun doing it. Originally the course started as an 18-month program, but now Donna and I have expanded it to a two year course because there’s a lot of material to cover and we want to be thorough,’ Luby said. ‘For example, learning how to properly budget takes weeks,  but we could not allocate this amount of time to it during the 18 month course. In this expanded two year course we can get through every facet of screen producing and not skip on the details.’

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‘What does it take to bring a film up from creative conception to getting it financed? We teach methods of overall project development, which include an awareness of what the marketplace is, where you go to find funding, and how to shape a project to fit a particular market.’

Hands-on producing

In addition to learning the creative, practical and business functions required of a screen producer (with input from notable screen producers themselves), students will have the opportunity to complete hands-on projects in real-world industry settings. At the conclusion of the course, they will have produced two short films and will have developed a market-ready longer form project.

‘The film-making happens in a subject that we call Production Collaboration, where Screen Producer students will work with Directing students and complete a screen project together,’ Luby explained. ‘We introduce the cohorts to each other early on, so they can form a good working relationship. Such collaboration is the essence of best industry practice.

‘The director and producer will liaise on script drafts together, then the producer will take on the role of putting it all together – facilitating the project – and the director will take on the role of having the creative vision for the film itself, and working with the actors to execute it.’

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‘Collaborating with peers and seeing how other creatives operate, especially during my industry placement, taught me new ways of working and helped shape the kind of producer I want to be,’ said graduate Mario Biancacci.

‘Applying the skills I learned to VCA films, web series and industry placements was incredibly rewarding. In particular, understanding the concept of story and learning how to analyse scripts has allowed me to communicate with screenwriters on a more profound and professional level. Studying the practical elements of dramatic filmmaking also helped me hone my skills and understand the themes in film that interest me most.’

So, who can apply to this course? Well, whatever your background, the VCA says it’s equipped to turn you into a job-ready graduate.  ‘We’re looking for people with a sense of collaboration and cooperation,’ said Luby. ‘Some people come to us with a filmmaking background, and that’s great, but we don’t require that necessarily.

‘Some people have come to us from a finance and economics background, and they want to learn all the other skills. We very much welcome that’.

Applications for the Master of Screen Producing are open now, and can be submitted online via The University of Melbourne website.

There will also be a Q&A webinar this Wednesday 14 September, which you can sign up for at the Master of Screen producing handbook.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports