Got your film school interview coming up? The application and admission process for a competitive film school program can be overwhelming; our forums provide tons of experience from members spread out over the years on how their interview went, the questions they asked, and, in hindsight, the mistakes they made. Consider these nine tips and tactics from former students, applicants, and alum for prospective film school students facing their interview.
1. Be Yourself
Many students would agree that the interview process can be nerve-wracking; after all, it seems like a lot can come down to how you engage and relate with those interviewing you. Try to remember that the goal is to garner out who you are, essentially; film students suggest that applicants “don't worry about trying to figure out who they want you to be.“ This is great advice. Interviewers can smell deception; be honest and sincere- but more on that later.
2. Find Focus
Please don’t minimize your life experiences; everyone has a different path and only a few have actual experience in the industry. Share your extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, even military service during the admission process, both in your interview and in your written application. Former students encourage sharing of diverse experiences and how experiential learning processes have helped to shape who they are. One film student suggests, “In hindsight, I think I worried too much about my past experience (in the industry), when what's truly important is demonstrating you're the type of person that could excel in the program…” Keep this in-mind as you move forward in the process.
3. Authenticity is Key
When you interview for admission to film school, authenticity is key. Make eye contact, speak from the heart, and expand on why you feel that you are a good fit for the industry. If you are passionate about filmmaking, share this during the interview. Most times, those conducting the interview were once students that can relate to where you are. Speak honestly and humbly to make a positive, lasting impression.
4. Tell a Story
Many in the film industry are simply telling a story; use your interview as a chance to tell your story. Engage and interact with your interviewer and share what has led you to this point. Perhaps it was the first time you saw a specific movie and the way that it made you feel, or maybe it was due to a trip to an exotic locale that opened your eyes to the world around you. Whatever your impetus, the interview is the time to tell the story of why you belong at film school.
5. Be Comfortable
It may sound cliché, but you will be at your best when feeling comfortable. Make sure that you dress comfortably for your film school interview, though always tidy and well-groomed. You don’t need to wear a tie to an interview but go ahead if it makes you feel self-assured and confident.
6. Take your Time
You will make your best impression when you are not stressed or harried. On the day of your interview, try to allow plenty of time to get ready and arrive, so you feel unhurried and self-confident. Above all, be prompt; many film school admissions counselors report that tardiness can negatively impact their impression of a candidate; after all, your lateness could infringe on the time of another student candidate. Showing respect by arriving on time only helps your admission interview.
7. Turn Off Electronics
Never forget to turn off your electronics, i.e. phone, when entering the interview and throughout. There is nothing as distracting as the vibration, beep, or ring of a phone during the all-important film school admission interview; first, it can cause you to lose an important train of thought and second, it may annoy the interviewer. If you need documents or information from your phone, jot it down ahead of time and leave the cell phone off. It is common courtesy.
8. Prepare Yourself
Prepare yourself for both brief and long interviews. Film school interview length can vary from school to school, candidate to candidate, so allow yourself ample time for the appointment. For example, one USC film school student reports “The “The interview last for about 20 minutes and it was very casual...I didn't even realize that was an interview...” Admission interviews can be a bit more formal, and many could last an hour- or longer. There are many variables and it is impossible to predict exactly how long your interview could go; be prepared for anything.
9. Put it in Perspective
It is easy to become fixated on a single film school or program which can be devastating if you feel that the interview was a flop. If you don’t feel that your interview went well or if there was a disconnect during the application process, try to put it in perspective. Perhaps this particular-film school is not the best fit for you right now. Try to put several irons in various fires to open-up opportunities and provide you with a chance to choose a film school that is well suited to you.
Need more help?
- See a list of actual film school interview questions.
- Search for more interview tips and experiences in the forum via the Advanced Search Function to search for posts going back to 2003.
- Ask current film students questions in the Film School Student AMAs (Ask Me Anything) forum.
- See the hundreds of ACCEPTED film school applications in our Film School Application database.