A Brief Guide to the MFA Production Interview

Film Guy

New Member
Hey guys! I was recently accepted to the MFA in Production program at Florida State. For me, preparing for the interview was a nerve-wracking process. However, I knew quite a few people in the BFA program and was able to help prepare myself for a few of the questions they asked me.

I'm here to do the same for you. While your interview experience could be substantially different from mine (even if you're also interviewing at FSU), I wanted to provide you with as much information as I could about the experience. I hope that this makes things easier for you when you're applying to film schools.

Getting There
I tried to maintain an open dialogue with the admissions counselor, though not to the point of ridiculousness. As soon as I received an email from them stating that they wanted to interview me, I sent a reply back as quickly as I could, and even asked to be signed up for the very first appointment they had available. Did this make a difference? Probably not. However, I wanted these folks to know that I was very serious about attending film school and tried to look as invested as I could.

It's also a good idea to ask any questions if you have any. What sorts of things should you anticipate? Where is a good place to park? Do they recommend wearing a suit, or is it a more laid-back affair? Again, this can give you more information about what to expect while also displaying your enthusiasm.

One time after I emailed the admissions counselor a week before the first interview, she was quick to send out relevant information shortly after I'd asked. Again, I wasn't trying to bombard the poor woman, who must read hundreds of emails a day. However, I was able to get the material I'd asked for, which was great.
Practice Makes Perfect
What's the worst thing that could happen? Go through as many mock interview questions as you can. Ask yourself important questions - why do you want to go to film school? What's your plan if you aren't accepted? What's your favorite movie? Why is it your favorite movie? Go deep - real deep - so you can provide an honest, quality answer.
Make Friends - Have fun!
You may encounter a different experience at other schools, but upon arriving at FSU I was led into a room where I met a few current MFA students as well as the other guys I was to be interviewed with. If you aren't sweating bullets in fear/anticipation/nervousness already, you might be by the time your name is called. So sit back, relax, and socialize. These people could be classmates of yours in the future, so why not get acquainted now? It is also very likely that the interview committee will want to see how you interact with others. They'll be less interested in an "artist" who thinks he's better than everyone else as opposed to a wide-eyed social butterfly who's excited about the film making process. Be nice, hang out, and make some friends. These people could end up being coworkers with you in the future.
Be Yourself
Sounds cliche? Of course it does - you've probably seen dozens (if not hundreds) of movies that force-feed you this advice. But it's true - the interview committee likely knows a lot about your artistic ambitions from your resume, creative portfolio, and letters of recommendation. Now they want to know what you're like in person. If you've properly prepared yourself, you won't need to worry about nerves. But you will have to make sure they see you for who you are.

The committee wants to know what kind of student, friend, worker, and thinker you are. Here's your chance to show them what you're really made of. If you want to make really artsy movies about time, death, love, etc. with lots of VFX, cool. Let them know what you want to accomplish. If you don't have as much experience on set, but you have a sincere passion for characters and plot, tell them about poems or short stories you've created in the past that show your ambitions. Show the committee what you personally want and hope to do in film and they'll help you get there.
Group Projects
In some cases, you will be asked to collaborate with your fellow interviewees to create a story or perform an activity. The best thing you can do here is have fun and be a team player. If you go into the room trying to be the next Kubrick, you may come across as a bit of a jerk. Brainstorm together and have a ball! You'll all have a much better time if you work together and play around with it, and the committee will enjoy seeing that you're a genuine team player who isn't afraid of group discussion. Do your very best (and feel free to try taking the reins if no one is saying anything), but remember that you will have a time limit and a deadline that must be adhered to. Be conscious, but enjoy the time.
Be "THAT Guy/Girl"
So maybe you didn't enjoy your day. Maybe you thought you had a crappy interview and didn't do as much as you could. Maybe you wonder if you've wasted your time and that you have no chance of getting into film school.

You know who else felt that way? This guy.

Even if you don't feel great at the interview's conclusion, you should still try to go out on a high note. Thank the committee for inviting you to their school. Thank the MFA students who have hosted you. Thank your fellow interviewees for going through this process with you and wish them all the best. And most importantly, thank the friends, family, and mentors that have helped you get this far. You know how many people want to go to film school and don't even get interviewed? A ton. Even if you aren't successful, you can always try again, and it's difficult to do too much networking in the film industry.

If you've made it this far, pat yourself on the back. You love movies enough to spend thousands of dollars on an education, and that means a whole awful lot.
Would love for you guys to include any other useful information for aspiring applicants. Best of luck to all of you!

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
Awesome post. I'm featuring it on the main page of the site. Congrats on being accepted and I hope this post helps others as well.

Film Guy

New Member
Hello all! If you happened to read this on the first go around, I'm just popping in quickly to provide a brief update on how things are going at FSU.

I'm now in my second (and final) year at the film school and have completed two directing projects. My IMDB page and resume are both starting to look pretty good for someone my age and I'm looking forward to working on more films (at lease seven more before I've graduated).

Some of the projects I've been able to ATL here have been outstanding. My latest directing project has been producing some very promising results on the festival circuit (thanks, of course, to Brenda Mills, who is our film school marketing specialist). And the last film I'll DPed in film school just screened at TIFF last week, which was incredibly exciting! I wasn't able to attend to due to some unforeseen complications, unfortunately, but with any luck I'll have the opportunity to attend as a professional within the next few years.

FSU has been a blast. The faculty additions made within the past few years have been ridiculous. We are beginning to operate in some incredible areas, both in a technological and creative sense. Production for my last film begins this spring - wish me luck and GO NOLES!

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
How was the program? I assume you've finished or are finishing?

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