Announcing the Kaufman Masterclass Series

The Kaufman Masterclass series was launched in Spring 2023 by Film and Media Studies faculty with the generous support of the Christopher L. Kaufman 1967 Film Studies Fund, which was established in 2001 to provide support for film studies at Amherst. The series will bring emerging and distinguished film and media makers to Amherst to share their skills in Masterclass workshops that will be open to all interested students who meet suggested eligibility requirements.  

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The TV Drama Writers’ Room: Masterclass with LEAH LONGORIA '12

Friday, September 22 at 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. in Classroom 211 in Frost Library (2nd floor)

How does a TV writers’ room operate and how do I get my foot in the door? This master class will review the structure of the TV writers’ room, from the positions that make up a staff to the day-to-day functions of the room. How do writers pitch stories, how do those stories get “broken,” and how do they go from an idea to the page? How do writers reconcile limitations due to budget, episode count, platform, and more? We will explore the challenges writers face in the room as they collaborate with production and post-production to get a show made and as they work their way up from show to show. Finally, students will apply what they’ve learned by collaborating in a mock writers’ room to pitch spec stories for series including Jane the Virgin, Stranger Things, Wednesday, and more.

Leah Longoria was the first graduate of the Film and Media Studies program at Amherst College. A member of the class of 2012, she graduated magna cum laude with a double major in FAMS and Mathematics. After completing a Master's in Television at Boston University, she moved to Los Angeles and began her career at United Talent Agency working in the TV Lit department before getting her first job in a television writers’ room as the showrunner's assistant on Jane the Virgin. Her talent propelled her to staff writer status on the same show, and she’s continued to work her way up the ranks of the TV writing staff on a range of series including the CW’s Roswell, New Mexico, and Nickelodeon’s Monster High, The Loud House, and The Casagrandes.

Access, Embodiment, and Opacity: A Masterclass with Jordan Lord

Tuesday March 28 and Tuesday April 25, 4-7pm, Fayerweather 215

Filmmaker Jordan Lord, who specializes in cinematic design that takes disability into account, will visit Amherst on March 28 and April 25 for two Masterclass sessions. Jordan Lord's visit will be the first in the FAMS program's Kaufman Masterclass Series, which will bring emerging and distinguished filmmakers to Amherst to share their skills.

Lord's film Shared Resources (2021, 98 mins) will play on Thursday March 23, 7PM at Amherst Cinema as part of the Bellwether Series, followed by a virtual conversation with the filmmaker. Free to Amherst students! 


In this FAMS masterclass, we'll seek to work with access as a fundamental practice in filmmaking. Although making something more accessible is frequently thought of as rendering it simpler or more transparent, we will consider another, more apparent reality: that access usually makes things thicker or more opaque. Thinking with disabled artists' approaches to representing care and access work, as well as practices of film editing where bodies also act as cuts, we will think through embodiment as both a limit and a material for work grounded in access.

Participants who attend the March 28 session will have the option to make and workshop a project on which they will receive feedback and support during the April 25 session. 


There are no pre-requisites for participating in this masterclass. Enrollment in the first session will be open to all and uncapped. The second session will be open to all who wish to return, with 10 slots reserved for those who wish to present works-in-progress for feedback and critique (we will work hard to accommodate FAMS majors, especially those enrolled in FAMS 410 "Disability, Media, and the Art of Access"). We will be reserving some spaces for Five College Students.


Please click on the link below to access the registration form. Registration closes at 3pm on Friday March 24.