Holly O’Brien is an emerging writer not long out of Northwestern University‘s MFA in Writing for the Screen + Stage program. Holly first discovered her love of writing as a freshman at Sarah Lawrence College after deciding to take a screenwriting class because it sounded like a good excuse to watch a lot of movies and write something other than lengthy thesis papers. Over the past 10 years, Holly has written over 1,000 pages of screenplays (features and shorts), plays, television episodes, short stories, and is currently working on a multimedia writing project of a very post-modern nature.

To take a peek into Holly’s library, you are welcome to view it on her portfolio page.

6 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m following you now for two reasons: You have a cool blog, and Northwestern is in the Big 10 and so are my Nebraska Cornhuskers, now!

  2. Hey Holly, thank you for the blog, some of writing exercises have really kept me going! I was super excited to apply to NW’s Stage and Screen program, (in fact, I already lined up my recommenders and started the statement of purpose) until I saw that you need to have earned your Bachelor’s before applying. By the time the app is due, I will be a second semester senior in a University. Do you know if they’ll allow this?

    • Thanks! You should be fine applying as a second semester senior. They may look at your transcripts to see if you’re on track to graduate on time, but you would certainly not be the first undergrad to apply.

      • Phew. Okay, thank you I almost had a melt down last night.

        I was wondering if you had any more details about the program or NW in general since you teach there. I live in New York, and couldn’t go check it out in person. How do you like it? What’s the environment like? What are the students like? Is the program as versatile as they say? Any advice for the Statement of Purpose?

        I am sorry, for the bombardment of questions. Please feel free to ignore the freaking-out-applicant; I just have had a hard time finding information on the program other than from their official website.

        • No worries, Gracie, I’m happy to answer any of your questions to the best of my abilities.

          Overall, I had an amazing experience both educationally and socially. I chose NU’s MFA program because it is interdisciplinary, and much enjoyed being able to mix up writing workshops with seminars and lectures. It is possible to take courses outside of the RTVF program, but it is not always the easiest thing to do, so just be aware of that. That said, with the professors that the RTVF has on staff, you won’t want to study with anyone but them. In terms of versatility, I found it to be very much so, covering all stages of filmmaking from writing the first draft to editing the final reel to getting press. It even turned me onto playwriting and television writing, which I had never considered before going there. Perhaps most importantly is that you will learn something new and different from every class and every professor. Also, the most important thing to the professors is that you find the methods that work best for you.

          As for everything else, the campus is drop-dead gorgeous, Chicago is an amazing city, and the people are generally a delight. Since the program is so small (only 12 students per year), it is likely that you would become very close with your cohort. What I observed about my classmates was that we were all extremely driven, motivated, and talented, but also very down to earth and sincere. No one at NU wants to cut you down or belittle you or your work, at least not in my experience. Quite the opposite; the program fosters community.

          My advice for your statement of purpose: it should be clear and concise; reflect your voice just as much as your writing sample; show that you take yourself and your work very seriously; project your career goals for the next 5-10 years; and if possible, tell them about a piece that you would like to work on while there. Don’t over think it too much though; the essential things are to make a statement and show that you have purpose.

          Hope that was helpful! Let me know if you need anything else, and best of luck to you!


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