AFI 2019 Screenwriting

Dean

Member
Supporting Member
Haha. WELL. I really feel like I did my research with AFI... I spoke to current students from both screenwriting and directing disciplines, and to alumns... DISCLAIMER: I really don't want to badmouth AFI but in my personal opinion, the general consensus of the people I spoke to has been that AFI's best/ strongest disciplines are Directing and Cinematography, and the Screenwriting discipline is of a lower caliber (according to those I spoke to) and the faculty isn't very strong, and that -- and this one was the most important for me -- the screenwriters don't really collaborate much with the other disciplines. Lots of directors told me that the directors seemed to be better writers than the screenwriters. Again, these are hypotheticals and subjective views, maybe, but to me the fees of these schools really give you access to a peer group, with whom you hopefully grow and collaborate strongly together -- and hopefully work together for life. That's what I'm looking for, and I don't think I'll get it at AFI. Plus, I don't like LA (and don't drive :p).
Yeah this is interesting, because everything you said @d890 about AFI is specifically things I've read that are (allegedly) in AFI's favor, from the strength of the faculty to the amount of collaboration amongst the students. Now granted I have never spoken with someone in depth about the program (always second hand sources), so I would love to hear more particulars about how AFI doesn't measure up in these regards. I'm just shocked because, course wise, AFI is the only program I've found that actually has screenwriters write stuff with and for the rest of the students, in like ANY capacity. None of the other big programs mention this as a selling point -- I spoke to USC directly and they pretty much told me that you just write, with only a few opportunities to work with other students outside the screenwriting departmwnt on stuff. That seems to me at least to be the norm for pretty much all these screenwriting programs -- none of them have you working extremely close with other departments to do projects. AFI was the only one I researched that made that seem like a possibility. I mean, aren't writers required to work on all that Boot Camp production too? I figured that was when those connections would be made. But I guess that's not entirely accurate either.

But, frankly? That's probably the most realistic response if these schools are actually trying to prepare us for the industry. Writers write. And then most pass whatever they have on to the people who actually make it. Though we all have (slight) delusions of grandeurs about being writer/directors, writer/producers, showrunners, etc. that's a very rare class for this profession, and one that you got to work to. Until then? You just write. To quote Mustache Superman:

View attachment 1200

Ultimately, I think this goes back to a mantra I've seen passed around a lot on these forums lately: this whole thing is what you make of it. No program will be super great at actually having their 100+ cohorts working in tandem, at all times. Logistically, it's just a lot to handle. But nothing's stopping the individual from going out and making those connections, should you chose to. Which I at least will try to do, when my fingers aren't bleeding from all the writing, of course.
Every time I turn away from this forum for a while I miss some intriguing conversations. First of all, regarding to what d890 has said about screenwriter being isolated from the rest of the tracks. I can understand how some non-writer AFI alumni might feel that way because all writers graduate on time (May of the their class year) while all the other tracks have to finish their thesis film before being allowed to graduate. These thesis projects tend to drag on for as long as half a year, and most writers by then would have already started on their career outside of school. And since the thesis project is the most difficult project any non-writer AFI fellow would undertake for their entire stay at AFI, (and probably the most bonding experience?) they tend to think their peer writers as a group who have left the party early. This is the only reason I can think of for the comments about AFI writing being less involved in productions. That said, I think AFI writers CAN participate in any project if they are invited, and there is the screenwriter cycle each year in which the directors fellows are requires to use writers' script. But again, just like in the real industry, no one can guarantee that your script will be used. I do believe that, AFI being just a tiny camp, the directors will have a hard time avoiding writers who are trying to sell their scripts. However, is up to the writers to interest/lure/chase/kidnap the directors.
P.S. I do have to mention that a lot of directors in AFI ARE aspiring auteurs, the ones who want to write their own stories. So we do have to do a lot to win them over.
 

Dean

Member
Supporting Member
Hi! I meant to write this before, so thanks for checking in :)
AFI Fest was great. The films I saw were very good, well crafted and well executed and all of the films are now up online
so check them out. A lot of them are very dark, as tends to be the case with student films, I liked Haunt a lot, which was humorous. You definitely can see how good the producers get at securing resources and how much the fellows can accomplish.
I got the chance to speak to Giovanni and another Screenwriting alum briefly and both were positive. Giovanni more-so, but he works there so that’s also not surprising. I asked about the screenwriter showcase and they both said they got opportunities to submit to people after the showcase- also that you better be damn ready with your piece when you put it in the showcase as people have missed out on rep/opportunities by putting in pitches they weren’t immediately ready to send out scripts for.

All in all glad I went.

When are you visiting the campus?
Damn I missed you at the AFI fest. I forgot to check in on this forum to see who were going. I met Anna Thomas and Michael Urban, the duo who interviewed me and said hi. I did not watch Haunt but I think Tree #3 was hands down one of the best. It's not the most creative story but definitely the most polished with the classic story structure. A lot of student films now are wading in the experimental mire. Just not my taste personally.
But anyways, I'd be thrilled to meet you in person, probably soon :)
 

Cdemon

Active Member
Damn I missed you at the AFI fest. I forgot to check in on this forum to see who were going. I met Anna Thomas and Michael Urban, the duo who interviewed me and said hi. I did not watch Haunt but I think Tree #3 was hands down one of the best. It's not the most creative story but definitely the most polished with the classic story structure. A lot of student films now are wading in the experimental mire. Just not my taste personally.
But anyways, I'd be thrilled to meet you in person, probably soon :)
I heard Tree #3 was good - only AFTER I'd missed the last screening of it. Damn! It would have been great to meet you. I ended up meeting up with a producing candidate (fingers crossed he gets in). It was great. I'd love to meet up sometime soon. Let's do that!!!

I also interviewed with Michael and Anna - they were great. I saw them there too but they were wrapped up in conversation - I now wonder if it might have been with you! - and I didn't want to interrupt.
 

Cdemon

Active Member
Every time I turn away from this forum for a while I miss some intriguing conversations. First of all, regarding to what d890 has said about screenwriter being isolated from the rest of the tracks. I can understand how some non-writer AFI alumni might feel that way because all writers graduate on time (May of the their class year) while all the other tracks have to finish their thesis film before being allowed to graduate. These thesis projects tend to drag on for as long as half a year, and most writers by then would have already started on their career outside of school. And since the thesis project is the most difficult project any non-writer AFI fellow would undertake for their entire stay at AFI, (and probably the most bonding experience?) they tend to think their peer writers as a group who have left the party early. This is the only reason I can think of for the comments about AFI writing being less involved in productions. That said, I think AFI writers CAN participate in any project if they are invited, and there is the screenwriter cycle each year in which the directors fellows are requires to use writers' script. But again, just like in the real industry, no one can guarantee that your script will be used. I do believe that, AFI being just a tiny camp, the directors will have a hard time avoiding writers who are trying to sell their scripts. However, is up to the writers to interest/lure/chase/kidnap the directors.
P.S. I do have to mention that a lot of directors in AFI ARE aspiring auteurs, the ones who want to write their own stories. So we do have to do a lot to win them over.
I have to quickly chime in, writers don't graduate before their peers - not really. The fellows involved in thesis films will continue them often for up to half a year after, and screenwriters might be involved in thesis films if their scripts are chosen (and they chose to submit scripts), but - aside from that, screenwriters (all fellows) walk in May, but then over the summer the screenwriters do a form of business prep. They work on rewrites on one or more of their scripts and work on loglines and pitching to prep for pitchfest. Pitch fest is then held end of august (I think). There you pitch to "industry people" and then the pitchfest book is given to those people and then sent out. Anna mentioned that it's more like Sept 1 screenwriters graduate even though they walk in May.
 

y0shek

New Member
I've also chosen Columbia over AFI. Those were my two choices.

AFI head of Directing told me in the interview that he went to Columbia and considers it and AFI to be the two best schools in the country (he also taught at USC for 8 years). His Columbia background is probably one of the reasons he has started letting the Directors write their own scripts at AFI, and there are now quite a few Writer/Directors there - he told me as much in the interview.

I talked to 7 working directors & mentors in the Industry (mostly at Pixar and Disney, where I know people) and 5/7 suggested that I should go to Columbia, but that may have been something that only applies to me.

I've always dreamed about going to AFI since I was about 15, but now that I got in, and I compared it practically to Columbia after months of deliberations, talking to students, etc. I think I made the right choice for myself by choosing Columbia. I liked the attitude and mentality better. AFI seems a bit more intense, and I'm already in a pressure cooker building AI stuff in tech.

They were my top two choices and you should be proud no matter where you go. Congrats d890 and see you there
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
So this happened today as I prepare for LMU orientation. EC8599D9-47AC-48A1-A4F0-888ABC6EF0BB.png
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
They also offered me a scholarship
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
I mean while I’m grateful for the scholarship it puts a very small dent in overall price. In the end AFI was my dream school. So I’m going. I’m very excited but also nervous.
 

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
Did you hopefully find a place already that isn't too far from AFI?
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
I already moved to LA Tuesday based on going to LMU. So I’ll be commuting from South LA
 

alanray

Active Member
I already moved to LA Tuesday based on going to LMU. So I’ll be commuting from South LA
Not the worst commute in the world, but the traffic's still gonna suck 😅 but it'll be worth it
 

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
Not the worst commute in the world, but the traffic's still gonna suck 😅 but it'll be worth it
That's true anywhere unless you live in save neighborhood as the school. And even then....
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
Not the worst commute in the world, but the traffic's still gonna suck 😅 but it'll be worth it
It’s like 10.6 miles away. I drove it yesterday just to see in traffic and it took 30 minutes as opposed to the 20 minutes to LMU. I think I’ll be alright.
 

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
It’s like 10.6 miles away. I drove it yesterday just to see in traffic and it took 30 minutes as opposed to the 20 minutes to LMU. I think I’ll be alright.
That's not bad at all.
 

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