Accepted to UCLA - Cinematography AMA

I'm accepted by UCLA and starting this fall. So I don't have experience of the program itself yet. I will have more to share once the program starts.

During the application cycle I found no thread or discussion about Cinematography program at all and it was a bit frustrating to me. I hope this thread can help the future Cinematography applicants.
The following notes has been updated in the application thread as well.

It is a very small program. My estimation is around 20 student in directing, and 6-8 students in cinematography each year. There are also producing and screenwriting track. The program with track name specified, rather than a general 'film production' name, means I can focus on the track I choose and have plenty of practice/participation. I don't have to worry as much about peer competition about roles in the projects as in a more general program.

The most unique point of UCLA application is that it doesn't require any video samples. You only need 2 pages of statement of purpose, 4 pages of a cinematography essay, and 3 recommendation letters. (and of course transcript and TOEFL if you are international like me)

It implies that unlike other top film schools, UCLA doesn't expect you to have any previous related experience. It focuses on your personal goal/plan through the PS, and your understanding of film making in the essay. Not too much about your history, or passion (every film school applicant is passionate about films).

Everyone's personal goal varies, there's no correct answer about it, as long as it makes sense to the admission committee. The essay of Cinematography application this year was about 'Visual Storytelling', and I believe it played a bigger role in my acceptance. Although I didn't have much film making experience, the essay was a very good opportunity to demonstrate my big list of classic films watched and understanding of visual story telling.

The interview was very casual and relaxed style. There was no agenda or set questions. We were just chatting and what the interviewers looked for was any information that was NOT included in the written materials.

The overall experience of the application was good. One thing the applicants need to be careful is that the application window of UCLA is very short and their online system is a bit tricky. It opened around Oct 10, and the deadline was Nov 1. Within this 20 days you have to complete the application on University level, which includes a personal history statement, and a supplemental application from school of TFT (the materials I mentioned above), which you can't even start before submitting the university level application. And recommendation letters can not be submitted until you submit the school level application. All of these have to be done within the 20 days window. So plan ahead, and coordinate with the recommendation letter writers well.
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