This fall, Renee Paiement will join a highly selective group of 12 to 15 students admitted to Columbia University's MFA program in screenwriting. The CU-Boulder senior applied to the Ivy League school last fall, submitting her first long screenplay with her application. Acceptance is a high honor since only about 6 percent of applicants are granted admission each year.
When she began at CU-Boulder, Paiement was a literature major. She eventually switched to creative writing then added film studies as a second major after taking an Intro to Film class last fall. From there, it was a marriage between her passions: writing and film.
Paiement's interest in screenwriting arose from her passion for literature and writing, and her interest in artistic, meaningful film. Her desire to craft a holistic career from her passions was inspired by the education she’s received at CU-Boulder.
"The film program at CU does a great job of showing students films outside of the norm—artistic films, new and innovative films—that challenge the norms of films produced in Hollywood," said Paiement. "They did a really good job at showing us a lot of different perspectives. That prepared me for Columbia because they have more of an art-cinema."
Paiement believes the diverse films she studied at CU-Boulder informed her screenwriting and helped her to be more creative, leading to her interest in writing independent, artistic films that will "push the envelope."
Paiement has worked hard as an undergraduate student, earning a 3.89 GPA across her two majors, and working as a manager at the International Film Series. She was inspired by the wide array of diverse films screened there, and said it's "one of the best things we have on campus."
Another aspect that Paiement appreciates about her time at CU-Boulder is the exposure to successful women in film. According to Paiement,the strong female women in film that she has followed over the years, in addition to her inspiring instructors at CU-Boulder, give her much to feel confident about.
"I have some really incredible female professors," said Paiement. "Jennifer Petersen, Melinda Barlow and Shira Segal. All these professors are women at CU-Boulder, and they're involved in film."
Paiement also looks up to screenwriters such as Diablo Cody, the writer behind the popular independent film Juno.
At Columbia, Paiement is looking forward to honing her screenwriting skills and actually seeing her writing in production, since the screenwriting program at Columbia works in collaboration with the directing and producing program to create actual films using the work of all the students. Paiement also hopes to gain exposure to other writers, develop more of her own style and portfolio, and learn the finer points of film production.
"Columbia is known in the film industry, and so many films are shot in New York each year. The school was my number one choice, hands down, and I'm so excited," said Paiement.
Ultimately, her goals are clear: "We need more women in the industry, and I can't wait to be one of them."
By Magdalena Rost