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USC Cinematic Arts - Film and Television Production (MFA)

3.29 star(s) 3.28571 Stars (7 Member Reviews)

Film School details

Degrees Offered
  1. 3 Year M.F.A.
Concentrations
  1. Cinematography
  2. Directing
  3. Editing
  4. Film & Television Production
  5. Producing
  6. Sound Design
Yearly Tuition
$30k to $40k
Tuition Detail
$35,214
Application Deadlines
Fall Admission Deadline: November 15, 2020 (Application will open on August 20th)
Spring Admission Deadline: August 15, 2021 (Application will open on June 20th)
MFA students learn in the most state of the art facilities rivaling the most advanced production companies in the world. You'll hone your talent as a media-maker in six specialties- Producing, Directing, Cinematography, Editing, Production Design, and Sound-while also learning the newest cutting-edge technologies that are changing the professional production process, preparing you for all future forms of media production.
School URL
https://cinema.usc.edu/production/index.cfm
Minimum GPA (according to school)
No Minimum GPA Requirement
GRE Required?
No
Portfolio Required?
Yes
Film Copyright
School
Letters of Reference Req.
3 (1 from and academic reference)
Internship Opportunities
Yes (required)
Application Requirements
1) Personal Statement (1,000 words),
2) Writing Sample: Film Description (2 pages) OR Paragraph Introduction (3 pages) OR Concept (2 pages),
3) Video or Photo Visual Sample, and
4) Creative Portfolio List


DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is correct to the best of our knowledge at the time it was last updated. PLEASE verify with the school ALL due dates and requirements as they may have changed since our last update. If any info on this page is incorrect please let us know and we will update it. We are not responsible for missed deadlines or rejected applications due to out of date information on this page. Please do your due diligence.

Latest reviews

Great Marketing, Subpar Reality
Reviewed by
Current Student
Pros
  • gaining experience (even if it's not under the best circumstances)
  • good post-production instruction
  • SCA network
  • being around people who want to make film their vocation
  • ability to try different tracks
Cons
  • mediocre faculty who cannot teach, give helpful notes, or make good work
  • ineffective administration that doesn't like change
  • poorly designed first year curriculum
  • bad cinematography program
  • conservative, non-progressive school that lacks ability to hold people accountable, especially when it comes to social justice (too white)
  • does not set students up to succeed or help them make their best work - quality of work is generally, at best, mediocre
  • innovation is not encouraged, what matters more is reputation
  • little theoretical or intellectual sophistication in students or faculty (unless you are in the critical studies dept.)
  • expensive
I'm writing this review because there wasn't a lot of clear info when I was applying so I hope that this can offer some clarification beyond the fluff of USC marketing (like "the #1 film school in the world" bullshit).

The first year at USC is the worst one and is truly a mess. The film program accepts students based on their perspectives, meaning there is a wide range of skill level when it comes to film. Some people have had done a degree program before or have worked, while others do not know anything. This is not inherently a bad thing but what is dishonest about SCA is that they are not clear about the fact that the first year does not actually serve either groups of people. There is too little teaching that would give beginners a good foundation, but at the same time more experienced people are bored by how basic everything is. The approach of the first year is to have useless lectures during class, assigning students to trios, and having them figure out filmmaking themselves while learning how to "collaborate". What I have seen of even this attempt to teach people to collaborate is that they value students who don't make a fuss, meaning students will put on their best face to teachers so that they can have opportunities to direct higher level productions. They do not offer helpful support for students who struggle with things such as conflict resolution, mental health issues, cultural differences, or disability. I don't consider this good teaching or learning. Also, effective learning is seriously impaired by teachers who largely lack the basic skill of organizing classes and lecturing, in addition to not actually being that good at helping people with their films. If they were skilled enough to be successful most of them would not be teaching there.

After the first year, things get dramatically better because there is more choice in how people can work, who they work with, as well as what they take. This is when people start taking basic intermediate classes (directing, producing, etc.) which would have been far more useful to have learned in the first year before we had to make films. The faculty is improved from the first year but I have found that great professors are still hard to come by. There are certainly some here and there, though. The advanced production classes (esp 546/narrative and 547/doc) are well-regarded and I've generally heard good things about them. In general the coursework becomes more helpful since you can focus on one thing at a time and begin to consider how these will help you in your career. However, even then, I have found classes and instructions to be just okay.

USC is actually best for people who are already quite good at filmmaking and know what they are doing. In addition, this school is more helpful for people who want to be blockbuster directors and make films in a more standard way. However, artists who try to break the mold or make experimental work will not be as well supported, especially by the faculty who often don't understand that type of filmmaking. Stories told by POC exist in plenty but because most of the faculty is white those stories also do not get the best support that they should. When it comes to tracks, directing, cinematography, and PD are the weaker tracks here. Writing, producing, and post-production (editing and sound) are strong. The editing and sound facilities are definitely good and the faculty will train you from the beginning.

I can't say if USC is worth it or not really. I'd have to graduate to see if it is but I think it can be depending on what your goals are, what you want to do, and whether you can afford it. I have learned a lot from doing things in classes but I do wish that the education was structured better. The film program can certainly help you get a job (esp if you do a post-production track), gain familiarity with equipment, and learn technical skills but it won't help you become a better artist. However, I do think that coming to USC will open doors career wise because it is well-connected but so far it has come at the cost of dealing with all of the bullshit of the school. By the time people graduate the anger of going through the first year is gone but many are left with mixed feelings. You should know what to expect before you say yes.
Affordability
1.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
4.00 star(s)
Campus
3.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
4.00 star(s)
Coursework
2.00 star(s)
Facilities
3.00 star(s)
Professors
2.00 star(s)
Scholarships
3.00 star(s)
One member found this helpful.
Last edited:
Hollywood Trash
Reviewed by
Current Student
Pros
  • Free lunch if you don't pay at Galen Center
Cons
  • They pick literally anyone, students who have no idea what filmmaking is (not talking about experience but at least passion and basic understanding of filmmaking)
  • Terrible taste (Hollywood trash, as I stated. They would all die for Marvel because- KeviN FeiGe iS aN AlUmNi)
  • Expensive (Tuition + living cost in LA for 3 years, plus production cost etc would likely cost you a literal kidney)
  • USC owns YOUR film that YOU pay on your own
  • Most students can't accept criticism and can't give criticism
  • They rely on sappy stories to make film, without actually having merit
  • Useless first year
  • Useless faculty
  • Terrible equipment with low production value
  • Not actual industry network as they market, most of the time it's just B-list directors who happen to be friends with the faculty
Overall, this school is what 'quantity over quality' means.

The network they brag about is absolutely not as they market. The filmmakers who come mostly make low-rated films that happen to need a boost of marketing. Occasionally they are good, don't get me wrong, but it's just gonna be once every semester so I wouldn't call that good network.

I would give it 0 star but this website won't let me.

Oh and the SCA building is a horrific building, an insult to any architect in the world. At least $75 million endowment from alumni and organizations are distributed to the construction of this awful building instead of I don't know, scholarship? Emergency fund? Lower tuition?
Affordability
1.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
2.00 star(s)
Campus
2.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
Coursework
1.00 star(s)
Facilities
2.00 star(s)
Professors
1.00 star(s)
Scholarships
1.00 star(s)
Last edited by a moderator:
Questionable Investment
Reviewed by
Current Student
Pros
  • Good weather
  • Chance of connections
Cons
  • Cost
  • Lack of diversity
  • Favoritism
  • Useless first year
  • Antagonistic admins
  • Scholarships only for certain groups
If you don’t get a scholarship to attend USC I would advise against going. It’s too much money to throw away for a school with so many problems. The first year is remedial film. If you’ve ever taken film before, it’s useless. 6 units are devoted to critical studies, which at the time of writing is 12k. Do yourself a favor and save for a house.

The so called network only helps a certain few. The fact that you’re in college helps more, so I would choose a cheaper school.

If you get a scholarship then by all means go.
Affordability
1.00 star(s)
Alumni Network
3.00 star(s)
Campus
3.00 star(s)
Career Assistance
1.00 star(s)
Coursework
1.00 star(s)
Facilities
2.00 star(s)
Professors
2.00 star(s)
Scholarships
1.00 star(s)
2 members found this helpful.
Last edited:
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Latest questions

The USC Cinematic Arts admissions website says that you do need the GRE. Is this new?
T
Tammy
Were you looking at The Division of Cinema & Media Studies major? Cuz this one do need GRE, but Film and TV production don't.
One member found this helpful.
S
soybean
No, they only need your $$$.
Does USC still open the application for 2021 spring? Cuz today is June 20th, they should've opened the application but I checked the application website and they didn't.
Chris W
Chris W
When will cinematography students learn how to shot with the film? when will production students have courses of their selected area?
sharkb8
sharkb8
I believe either Intermediate or Advanced Cinematography class has a project shot on film. Both classes happen in your 2nd or 3rd years of the MFA program, depending on when you want to take them.

Production students choose their own classes after the first two semesters. For instance, I'm taking a lot of producing and directing classes now that I'm in my 2nd year.

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Film School information

Category
California
Added by
FilmSchool.org
Views
13,527
Reviews
7
Questions
7
Last update
Rating
3.29 star(s) 7 ratings

Application Statistics

Acceptance Rate
Lowest Accepted GPA
Earliest Int. Notification
January 3
Earliest Interview
January 6
Earliest Decision
January 25

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