How to get Into USC Film School: An Interview With an SCA Admissions Committee Member

The USC Film School Admission Process

Can you provide a brief overview of what the admissions process may look like from the application to acceptance, waitlist, interview, or whatever it may be?

As far as the process goes: that's something that I don't feel comfortable getting into that much. There are so many different departments involved and they all do their own thing, and it changes every year depending on what we need ... So I think it's probably best for me not to comment on that.

Absolutely, that's totally fine. Roughly how many applicants do you get per year?

I can say it's a lot. But here's what I'd like to say about that: It doesn't matter how many people apply, it really doesn't. People get caught up in percentages– how many we admit and how many apply. Here's the truth. If we want you, we're going to try to find a way to get you in there. It doesn't mean that we don't want more people than we can accept. It means that if you really proved yourself, it doesn't matter how many people applied. If we don't want people, it doesn't matter how many people applied either. It's not going to change things, you know?

Right. Going off that, I think that a lot of people, when they're applying to any college really, are concerned that admissions is kind of skimming over their essays and application. How much time would you say that you do spend reading an application?

We have a system set up within our school that makes it so it's literally impossible for the person reading to skim through [an application] and not take it into consideration. I won't get into the details of it because that's our way, but what I'll say is that you can't really spend less than 30 minutes on an application before you decide. And you're held responsible for that.

There's another thing that I think people don't understand, especially people who think we’re skimming through. At least at USC, at SCA, the people who are reading your stuff aren't doing it because they have to. They're doing it because they really want to. The admissions committee is largely composed of volunteer faculty for the most part who say, “Yes, I want to be part of this. Yes, I want to read these and help choose the people who are coming in.” And we're not going in there with the idea of, “Oh, let's see how many people we can pass.” We're going in there looking for the people who really jump out at us. There's that little nugget we find-- something that says, “Oh, this is potential. This is hope. This is someone who I want to get to know more.”

So we're not skimming over things. We're just doing our best to find what you left in there that makes us remember you. We want that as much as you do.

The thing I always compare it to is [film auditions]. If [you hold] auditions for a film, you'll get a ton of actors and you're not going in there to turn the actors down unless you're, you know, an a**hole. You're going there to try to find that special one. And really each one that comes in and doesn't do it, you're disappointed that they didn't because you really wanted them to be the one! It's the same way with applications. We're looking for that. We're looking to find that jewel you put in there for us. We're not skimming. If we wanted to skim, we just wouldn’t sign up.

And then the school wouldn't be what it is either, right?

Look, here's the truth. We're choosing our family for the next four years. Whoever we choose are students that we take pride in, that we're going to be mentoring, that are going to be in our classes, that we are hanging our hats on and hopefully someday maybe will even hire us. So I mean, we're doing it for our own good.

Do you guys get a lot of transfer students?

Yeah, plenty of transfer students.
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Svaja Paka
Svaja is a content creator with an affinity for written content and video, and has been creating films and writing stories ever since she was in elementary school. Her passion for the two subjects led her to specialize in creative writing during college, where she quickly became infatuated by Creative Nonfiction. Shortly after graduation, she began to excel as a content writer and video editor in various professional settings. Although Svaja has been passionate about filmmaking since she was a child, she has recently begun to pursue it seriously and hopes to attend an MFA program in 2021.

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LOVE. so informative and enlightening
Such an excellent deep-dive interview on the process! I'm so glad I have this clarity now.
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