Accepted to USC - Peter Stark AMA (Ask Me Anything)

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
I'll be attending the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC this fall. Happy to answer any questions about the application process, so AMA!

Best,
-Julie
 

Jwhite62

New Member
I'll be attending the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC this fall. Happy to answer any questions about the application process, so AMA!

Best,
-Julie

Hey Julie, Congratulations - this is such an achievement I'm looking to apply to attend Fall 2020, and I have a few questions around who I should get for a recommendation? Also, some confusion around cost I'm trying to put together a semester by semester breakdown. Any help would be appreciated.
 

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
Hey Julie, Congratulations - this is such an achievement I'm looking to apply to attend Fall 2020, and I have a few questions around who I should get for a recommendation? Also, some confusion around cost I'm trying to put together a semester by semester breakdown. Any help would be appreciated.
Hi @Jwhite62! I set up a meeting with Michael Lane at the Stark office and asked him this question last summer. He stressed that you should choose people you know for sure would praise you and recommend you highly, regardless of whether they're a big name in the industry or not. I ended up choosing my favorite undergrad professor who I've known for years and could attest to my drive and work ethic; a producer I worked for both on set and in development (who also happens to be a 2x Emmy winner); and a director I did an internship for years ago on a small indie film (who is a USC alumni herself). I also did an internship for a production company whose creative executive was a Stark alumna, so I was very vocal to her about my desire to apply for the program and she helped me with my application. The long and the short of it, in my opinion, is to be very strategic and be very clear early on with people you'll ask for recommendations for. And be sure to ask people who can really speak about your character.

As for the cost, they say it rises yearly usually, and I've certainly had issues tracking down cold hard data before I got my bill. So I'll just be straightforward and tell you my tuition before aid was just about $25,000 (inclusive of cinema lab fees and student fees). Year 2 has only 10 units per semester so I don't think it's the same amount each semester.
 

Jwhite62

New Member
@Julie Lew That is very helpful and I appreciate the insight! I have one more question, do you think the program is better for suited for applicants/students who are further along in their career? For example, is there preference given to experience, just asking because I graduated from undergrad a little over a year ago and though I'm working on creating some short docs and have an internship "in the industry" under my belt I don't know there is an emphasis on applicants that are more senior, suggesting I should get more experience before applying. Any insight that you may have would be great? Thanks so much in advance, I've been researching this program for a couple of years.
 

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
@Jwhite62 I think they look for self-driven people who they see potential in, regardless of previous experience. I think in general the SCA grad programs are a good mix of people who have been working for a few years and people who just finished undergrad. I graduated with my BA last spring and have been interning and working in the industry since then, and I fall in the average age range of incoming grads, I believe.
 

KeenanDK

Member
Similar to Jwhite's question, how heavy do you think your industry experienced weighed on your application?
I'm applying for Fall 2020, and despite having an undergrad degree in film, I've spent the past 7.5 years as an active duty Air Force Officer--certainly outside the realm of "the industry."
 

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
@KeenanDK, my unique experience helped me in the sense that I was able to share my story with the Stark office and give them a sense of who I am. And you can do that too, with whatever experience you have because that is valuable. If you can share your story and your background and how that fuels your ambitions and what you want to do, I get the sense that that is what they're looking for. My current cohort comes from a diverse set of backgrounds, with only a few having actual experience inside the industry. I think having an Air Force background can help you if you really think about how that has shaped you and can aid you in your career as a producer, executive, director, etc.
 

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
Hi @samantha_e! Good luck with your application! In hindsight, I think I worried too much about my past experience, when what's truly important is demonstrating you're the type of person that could excel in the program. My classmates and I all come from different backgrounds, with varying prior experience in the industry. So having previous experience is certainly helpful, but don't stress whether it's enough or you need more. Let your passion for filmmaking show in your application, and explain how grad school and Stark in particular is the right program for the next step in your career.
 

sakemetekika

New Member
Hello! I'm going to be applying again this year, though I'd received a rejection after interview last year. Made 25+ films in the past two years and just finished my undergrad -- now working as a database administrator to save up money for the process. Are there any tips for the passing the interview? Is the point to be likable and give them a sense of who you are, or to show professionalism and consistency? :)
 

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
Hello @sakemetekika! Good luck on your application this year! I think they want to get a sense of who you are as a person, so don't worry about trying to figure out who they want you to be. Everyone is my cohort is very unique and different in terms of personality. We have extroverts and introverts. The program is really keen on choosing the best people to learn and work together, and I think they evaluate each candidate on how well they'd work with their other picks. So ultimately, I recommend thinking about who you are, what makes you tick/drives your passion for film, and what you've done so far that illustrates this. The professors here really emphasize that we have to understand who we are to understand what kind of films/tv we want to make.
 

samantha_e

New Member
Hi @samantha_e! Good luck with your application! In hindsight, I think I worried too much about my past experience, when what's truly important is demonstrating you're the type of person that could excel in the program. My classmates and I all come from different backgrounds, with varying prior experience in the industry. So having previous experience is certainly helpful, but don't stress whether it's enough or you need more. Let your passion for filmmaking show in your application, and explain how grad school and Stark in particular is the right program for the next step in your career.
Thank you!
 

truffleshuffle

Active Member
NYU
USC
I'm applying to the Production Division, but I did wonder how much collaboration goes on/is possible between the Starkies and the Production students. For class projects / outside of class or over the summer projects? As I understand it, producing is also a track within Production so I'm wondering how that overlaps as well.
 

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
I'm applying to the Production Division, but I did wonder how much collaboration goes on/is possible between the Starkies and the Production students. For class projects / outside of class or over the summer projects? As I understand it, producing is also a track within Production so I'm wondering how that overlaps as well.
Hi @truffleshuffle! The degree of collaboration is up to individual Starkies, nothing mandated or overseen by the program. It's very easy to never interact with production students unfortunately, but it's also very easy to make friends with and collaborate with other divisions. Production students often seek out Starkies to produce their thesis projects. The Stark program also has a thing called the Stark special projects where we get to pitch shorts that the program will greenlight to get made. Often Starkies recruit production and writing students to help out on these.

As for the difference between the two, I can't really speak to the production program, but our Stark program is very producing/business/pitching/finance focused with less time spent on production aspects.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
I'll be attending the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC this fall. Happy to answer any questions about the application process, so AMA!

Best,
-Julie
I'm thinking of putting together an article on the site on something like "Film School in the time of COVID" to help current applicants and people who may be attending schools in the fall. I'd love to be able to interview you (or one of the site's writers will) about how the pandemic is currently affecting you at the school and what the school's plans are for the fall if any. Would this be something that you're interested in?

Thanks! I think it'd be a great help for the people on the site.
 

Julie Lew

Moderator
Staff member
USC
I'm thinking of putting together an article on the site on something like "Film School in the time of COVID" to help current applicants and people who may be attending schools in the fall. I'd love to be able to interview you (or one of the site's writers will) about how the pandemic is currently affecting you at the school and what the school's plans are for the fall if any. Would this be something that you're interested in?

Thanks! I think it'd be a great help for the people on the site.
I'm down!
 

Ness

New Member
Hi @Jwhite62 I've been wait listed 2 years in a row for this program, what exactly am I doing wrong, I really don't get it, I'm an international student so maybe I'm not saying or doing something right in the interview because why even bother considering me twice and wait listing me both times
 

Latest Classifieds

Latest Applications

Latest reviews

  • USC Cinematic Arts - Film and Television Production (MFA)
    1.00 star(s)
    Questionable Investment
    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...
    • Anonymous
  • Rome International Film School
    5.00 star(s)
    BEST use of your time!
    Thanks to professor Carl Haber I was able to learn the fundamentals of screenwriting and how to implement them. For the first time in my life, I'm...
    • pcasmur
  • UCLA TFT - Screenwriting (M.F.A.)
    5.00 star(s)
    The Right Move For Me
    I have loved this program so far! For me, it was the right move. Coming from out-of-state, I learned a lot about LA and housing, but it could have...
    • Anonymous
  • University of Chicago - Department of Cinema and Media Studies
    5.00 star(s)
    In my opinion, the University of Chicago's Cinema & Media Studies program is one of the most outstanding and underrated programs out there. I...
    • jn0pe
  • Emerson College
    3.00 star(s)
    I went to Emerson for my undergrad for VMA (Visual media arts, just generally the film program) and...it was a lot of fun, I certainly learned...
    • julia1
Top