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Getting Into Film School Without A Portfolio

By Chris W · Nov 21, 2016 · ·
  1. Chris W
    So you want to go to Film School and you don't have a portfolio? First off... this is not a bad thing! Don't get turned off and think that film school isn't for you because you don't have a portfolio.

    Not having a portfolio may even be more common than you think. Many people go for their undergraduate degree in a completely unrelated profession and this can be a good thing for many reasons.

    First, it gives you life experience unrelated to filmmaking which helps you discover stories and aspects of life that interest you. Filmmaking is all about storytelling and the more that you have learned and experienced the better. You know the expression "Write what you know"?... well if you haven't experienced much then you don't.... I think you get the gist. :)

    Second, it gives you a degree to fall back on if filmmaking turns out to not be the thing for you. This may sound pessimistic but it's unfortunately the reality as I know of many film school graduates who are no longer working in the film business. It's good to have options.

    So getting back to the original point... how do you go to Film School without a portfilio? Here are two options:

    1. Apply to a Film School that doesn't have any Portfolio requirements.

    There aren't many for graduate film programs that don't require portfolios. Using our site's Film School search system however it's easy to find the schools that don't have any portfolio requirements: (simply choose the options on the right side of that page to search)

    One option that doesn't show up on that list however is Syracuse University - Newhouse School Of Public Communications (MFA). They have an interesting option where you can either submit your GRE test scores OR submit a portfolio. So study up for that GRE and send those test scores in.

    2. Get off your but and make a portfolio! :)

    You want to go to film school right? Well start right now. Buy or borrow a cheap camera. Craiglist is a friend. I once probably bought a thousand dollars worth of Legos for $60 bucks on Craigslist, a camera that you can practice with has to be in that range. (Please don't buy an expensive camera on Amazon for your first go.,, please borrow and use Craiglist first)

    Schools are looking for your ability to tell a story. So get out there and practice telling a story. Don't worry about it being perfect. (then why would you need to go to school) Just do the best you can and learn as you go. Get your friends to help. It'll be fun. Trust me. :)

    The ability to succeed in this business really comes down to drive and initiative. If you have the initiative something is sure to eventually fall into place.

    Buying (or borrowing) a camera and making that portfolio is a terrific way to show initiative.

    So, good luck! Get out there! And as always, please share with us your progress or questions that you may have on our forums.

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    About Author

    Chris W
    BU COM 1999 Graduate. Currently working as a Film & TV editor in Los Angeles. Founded Studentfilms.com in 1998 (from which the film school forums were spun off into FilmSchool.org in 2014).
    dvxdm likes this.


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  1. BadouBoy
    Great article! To add to that list, UCLA's film production program also does not require a portfolio, only an original treatment.
      Chris W likes this.
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