AFI 2019 Screenwriting

So I had my interview recently. Much shorter than the one before me... by almost 15 minutes. I was near tears the whole time :( and sweated through my dress shirt and blazer. One good thing is that I made every possible mistake here so I won't do it with my other interviews. Hopefully!

Hope everyone else's interview went well.
 

Cody Young

Tattoo/Film Enthusiast
So I had my interview recently. Much shorter than the one before me... by almost 15 minutes. I was near tears the whole time :( and sweated through my dress shirt and blazer. One good thing is that I made every possible mistake here so I won't do it with my other interviews. Hopefully!

Hope everyone else's interview went well.
I'm sure it wasn't as bad as you thought. I'm sure most of us writers are all just as awkward and anxious in these interviews. Hopefully the interviewers have come to expect it by now.
 

Septopus7

Moderator
Staff member
So I had my interview recently. Much shorter than the one before me... by almost 15 minutes. I was near tears the whole time :( and sweated through my dress shirt and blazer. One good thing is that I made every possible mistake here so I won't do it with my other interviews. Hopefully!

Hope everyone else's interview went well.
Hey, try to think of it this way: maybe the other person went an additional 15 minutes because they wouldn't shut the hell up, and the interview panel HATED him for it. Brevity is the soul of wit, and what not.
 

Buusey

Member
Hey guys, looks like they're still scheduling interviews for this (I just received an invitation!). I also applied to the Directing track so I'm not sure if that had something to do with this decision or if I'd be interviewing for both but just an FYI if you're still hoping for an invite!
 
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WriterK90

Member
Do you know if your interview is for Directing or Screenwriting?
 

Buusey

Member
Do you know if your interview is for Directing or Screenwriting?
It's for Screenwriting. I did ask a question about whether or not people are allowed to interview for two programs or are only invited to interview for one and am waiting for the answer on that. Not sure if this matters but I submitted my Screenwriting application over 2 weeks before the deadline and well before I submitted my Directing application.
 

WriterK90

Member
It's for Screenwriting. I did ask a question about whether or not people are allowed to interview for two programs or are only invited to interview for one and am waiting for the answer on that. Not sure if this matters but I submitted my Screenwriting application over 2 weeks before the deadline and well before I submitted my Directing application.
Thanks for the heads up! I was already accepting no interview but it's cool if filmschool.org keeps up it's streak and we all get interviews in the end. I just finished my second interview for different schools and my nerves are shot. lol But bring it on.
 

WriterK90

Member
Hey guys, looks like they're still scheduling interviews for this (I just received an invitation!). I also applied to the Directing track so I'm not sure if that had something to do with this decision or if I'd be interviewing for both but just an FYI if you're still hoping for an invite!
Oh and when is your appointment scheduled for?
 

Buusey

Member
Oh and when is your appointment scheduled for?
Monday the 25th as of now. Good luck and I hope you get an interview with AFI!

To everyone else, keep in mind, I recently read a profile with an admissions counselor where they talked about reasons people get rejected from graduate programs and they range all over the place-- from lack of resources to help an applicant reach their specific graduate goals to the admissions council trying to form a specific class with each person filling a specific role based on their interests and experiences.
 

Septopus7

Moderator
Staff member
Alright kids, gather round: I'm here to tell you the story of my AFI interview.

...Overall, pretty good! Everyone's previous sentiment is correct in that it was a pretty laid back affair, and overall I had a good chat with my interviewers (Anne Thomas and Kevin Kennedy). It started out with the short interview with Giovanni in admissions, which didn't amount to much, but did ease my nerves a bit going in with how laid back, casual, and nice he was. Nice little palette cleanser for the actual interview. Here's some of the questions that were asked to me in the discipline interview, though:

1. Are you still in (location I'm at) currently?

Talked about that for a good long time, and it kept coming up through the interview. Good sign, I think? They seemed interested in my background, it seems.

2. How much are you currently writing now?

3. How well do you balance time?


This was a big part of the interview, and they kept stressing how much work was involved in the program (Anne multiple times said it was the most intensive of all the AFI programs.) They want to make sure you can handle the workload. I had a good in-road with the thing I talked about in my narrative statement (working two jobs, 60 hours a week, and finding time to write between them, etc.), and the fact that I got two undergraduate degrees also showed how much I could work. But this is just my examples. Find ways to express your work ethic yourself, because its very important for AFI. They don't want to bring in potential burnouts, which is fair.

4. What is your interest in screenwriting?

I discussed my desire to write for television. They seemed to appreciate this, and talked at lengths about how big a focus TV now is for AFI. Not saying you should 100% commit to the form (I mentioned how I wanted to write films too), but just saying: couldn't hurt. You have to do both tracks (film and TV) regardless, so saying your comfortable and want to write for both is probably for the best. I also explained how I focus on comedy, though I did emphasize how I enjoy other genres too. Didn't want to seem two married to one thing there -- especially comedy. If you say all you do is comedy, they expect you to always be funny, which is way too much pressure for this guy.

5. Describe your family.

This one kind of threw me off, but I used it as an opportunity to explain my ethnic background, and my diverse point of view, etc. Also used it as an opportunity to make jokes, which they both seemed to enjoy and laugh with me at. So hopeful points for me!

6. What's a TV series you've watched recently?

7. What's your favorite movie you've seen recently?


Both these questions really took the conversation to a free flowing place. Probably talked altogether 10 minutes about these two things, and a bunch of different films, and what they watched, and what I watched, etc. I have hosted film podcasts in the past, so doing this over a Skype call felt very familiar to me. It was a good convo, though.

8. Any questions for us?

I asked a couple questions (about collaboration mostly) but, admittedly, I wish I asked more. Always a thing I struggle with during an interview.

9. What's a feature film idea you want to write as your first project?

Eek, this was the thing I was least confident in with the interview. My biggest advice: HAVE A PITCH PREPARED. I did not, so I kind of freestyled it with the first thing that came to mind. And though it was a project I had gestating for a while (a revenge action movie about motherhood), I did not have a good pitch ready. It was also outside of what I said I was interested in, which I'm not sure helps or hinders me (one of the interviewers commented on it, but not in a way that seemed outright negative, just surprised) Overall It was very messy and, if I could go back and change anything about the interview, it would be this. The worst thing is that, like, immediately after being done with the interview, I thought of the PERFECT thing I should have pitched. Grr. Seriously people, go in prepared with that, because its placement as the last question makes me think its something they are going to ask everybody, and value highly as part of the process.

Overall, like I said, good interview. It was really free-floaty, and I can tell they weren't just reading questions from a notepad or anything. Of course there's things in hindsight I wish I said better, or things that make me cringe in retrospect, but what interview doesn't have that? Just got to keep going, knowing you put your best foot forward.

I will say one real positive thing: as the call ended, Thomas said (and I quote directly, because it made me feel so good) that "you'd fit in well here" and that "we would love to have you." Now who's to say if that's genuine, or something they say to all the pretty French girls, but it felt pretty good to at least hear it out loud!

Anywho, that's enough blabbering for me. Hope this can at all be helpful to the rest of you doing interview prep.
 

Dean

Member
Alright kids, gather round: I'm here to tell you the story of my AFI interview.

...Overall, pretty good! Everyone's previous sentiment is correct in that it was a pretty laid back affair, and overall I had a good chat with my interviewers (Anne Thomas and Kevin Kennedy). It started out with the short interview with Giovanni in admissions, which didn't amount to much, but did ease my nerves a bit going in with how laid back, casual, and nice he was. Nice little palette cleanser for the actual interview. Here's some of the questions that were asked to me in the discipline interview, though:

1. Are you still in (location I'm at) currently?

Talked about that for a good long time, and it kept coming up through the interview. Good sign, I think? They seemed interested in my background, it seems.

2. How much are you currently writing now?

3. How well do you balance time?


This was a big part of the interview, and they kept stressing how much work was involved in the program (Anne multiple times said it was the most intensive of all the AFI programs.) They want to make sure you can handle the workload. I had a good in-road with the thing I talked about in my narrative statement (working two jobs, 60 hours a week, and finding time to write between them, etc.), and the fact that I got two undergraduate degrees also showed how much I could work. But this is just my examples. Find ways to express your work ethic yourself, because its very important for AFI. They don't want to bring in potential burnouts, which is fair.

4. What is your interest in screenwriting?

I discussed my desire to write for television. They seemed to appreciate this, and talked at lengths about how big a focus TV now is for AFI. Not saying you should 100% commit to the form (I mentioned how I wanted to write films too), but just saying: couldn't hurt. You have to do both tracks (film and TV) regardless, so saying your comfortable and want to write for both is probably for the best. I also explained how I focus on comedy, though I did emphasize how I enjoy other genres too. Didn't want to seem two married to one thing there -- especially comedy. If you say all you do is comedy, they expect you to always be funny, which is way too much pressure for this guy.

5. Describe your family.

This one kind of threw me off, but I used it as an opportunity to explain my ethnic background, and my diverse point of view, etc. Also used it as an opportunity to make jokes, which they both seemed to enjoy and laugh with me at. So hopeful points for me!

6. What's a TV series you've watched recently?

7. What's your favorite movie you've seen recently?


Both these questions really took the conversation to a free flowing place. Probably talked altogether 10 minutes about these two things, and a bunch of different films, and what they watched, and what I watched, etc. I have hosted film podcasts in the past, so doing this over a Skype call felt very familiar to me. It was a good convo, though.

8. Any questions for us?

I asked a couple questions (about collaboration mostly) but, admittedly, I wish I asked more. Always a thing I struggle with during an interview.

9. What's a feature film idea you want to write as your first project?

Eek, this was the thing I was least confident in with the interview. My biggest advice: HAVE A PITCH PREPARED. I did not, so I kind of freestyled it with the first thing that came to mind. And though it was a project I had gestating for a while (a revenge action movie about motherhood), I did not have a good pitch ready. It was also outside of what I said I was interested in, which I'm not sure helps or hinders me (one of the interviewers commented on it, but not in a way that seemed outright negative, just surprised) Overall It was very messy and, if I could go back and change anything about the interview, it would be this. The worst thing is that, like, immediately after being done with the interview, I thought of the PERFECT thing I should have pitched. Grr. Seriously people, go in prepared with that, because its placement as the last question makes me think its something they are going to ask everybody, and value highly as part of the process.

Overall, like I said, good interview. It was really free-floaty, and I can tell they weren't just reading questions from a notepad or anything. Of course there's things in hindsight I wish I said better, or things that make me cringe in retrospect, but what interview doesn't have that? Just got to keep going, knowing you put your best foot forward.

I will say one real positive thing: as the call ended, Thomas said (and I quote directly, because it made me feel so good) that "you'd fit in well here" and that "we would love to have you." Now who's to say if that's genuine, or something they say to all the pretty French girls, but it felt pretty good to at least hear it out loud!

Anywho, that's enough blabbering for me. Hope this can at all be helpful to the rest of you doing interview prep.
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Mine is next week, hope I won't sweat like hell ;)
 

hunteros

New Member
Hello everyone,

I haven't posted here before but I've been reading it for a while and ya'll have helped me out enormously, so I figured I'd hit you guys back and tell you how my interview went, and what we talked about among other things.

So the interview started with me talking to Giovanni who is a recent alum working in admissions. He was incredibly nice - and as others have mentioned - was quite calming in his chillness, and set the tone for what was to come. He pretty much just talked about admissions, and asked me if I had any questions for him.

I actually asked him how many people the screenwriting program interviews (because I saw that people were asking that question in this thread) and he said that they don't actually interview very many applicants, and that the number of interviewees is very close to the number of students they admit. So pretty much if you got an interview you should be super excited!

Afterward I interviewed with Anna Thomas and Jacob Forman, and I want to stress just how nice they were. They were incredibly nice, like disarmingly nice. I was worried I'd be intimidated by them because they are both so accomplished, but they made it incredibly easy for me to just be myself.

I was incredibly nervous at the start of the interview, because my application materials were pretty abrasive and out there, especially my SOP (statement of purpose) - which was almost entirely fictional and mentioned usage of hard drugs among other things, so I had no idea what to expect (I showed my SOP to like 8 of my friends and teachers and 5 of them loved and 3 of them hated it lol). But they started out the interview talking about how much they liked my scripts and my SOP, and how it showed a strong voice! Going in I was just hoping they'd mention my materials once or twice because I've read on here that that's a good sign, but they mentioned them several times over the course of the interview. I nearly cried tbh.

As for the interview itself, the questions they asked me were essentially the same questions they asked Septopus, so THANK YOU Septopus. The only significant difference is that they asked me about a story I wanted to write in the first workshop (they didn't specifically want a movie pitch like what Septopus mentioned). I actually had a movie pitch prepared based off one of the scripts I submitted for my app but they wanted an entirely different story - which was alright, I just gave them a backup idea I had that wasn't as fleshed out.

At one point they asked me if music inspired my creative process, and I pulled out the vinyl copy of LIL UGLY MANE's MISTA THUG ISOLATION that was sitting next to me (I had it prepared in case they asked a question about my creative inspirations), which they thought was really funny. At the end of the interview Jacob even asked for the name of the record again. I hope he listens to it lol. Any interview where I can introduce my interviewer to LIL UGLY MANE's music is a success in my book.

I also read on here before that the interviewers debate the movies with you and that you better know your stuff, but for me that wasn't the case (at least with Anna and Jacob). It was more like a friendly conversation, where we talked about how great and underrated First Reformed was (among other things).

In general the vibe I got from the interview is that they aren't actually looking for perfect answers to every question. They just want to get an idea of who you are. As others have said, it didn't feel like a quiz AT ALL. Seriously don't stress out too hard about it. Just come prepared, and don't worry about getting stumped, or giving an imperfect answer, they're very generous and non judgemental. I asked Giovanni during our interview if they were going to be expecting a polished 'hollywood' style pitch, and he said (I'm paraphrasing here) "look, if they were expecting a perfect hollywood pitch from you, they wouldn't be expecting you to come to film school, that's what your coming here to learn."

So good luck to everyone! And don't stress too hard! I hope this helps!

Also shout out to Septopus for their helpful ass post. Based off what you said it sounds like you have a really good shot of getting in my dude.

I hope to see ya'll at AFI next year.
 

WriterK90

Member
Hello everyone,

I haven't posted here before but I've been reading it for a while and ya'll have helped me out enormously, so I figured I'd hit you guys back and tell you how my interview went, and what we talked about among other things.

So the interview started with me talking to Giovanni who is a recent alum working in admissions. He was incredibly nice - and as others have mentioned - was quite calming in his chillness, and set the tone for what was to come. He pretty much just talked about admissions, and asked me if I had any questions for him.

I actually asked him how many people the screenwriting program interviews (because I saw that people were asking that question in this thread) and he said that they don't actually interview very many applicants, and that the number of interviewees is very close to the number of students they admit. So pretty much if you got an interview you should be super excited!

Afterward I interviewed with Anna Thomas and Jacob Forman, and I want to stress just how nice they were. They were incredibly nice, like disarmingly nice. I was worried I'd be intimidated by them because they are both so accomplished, but they made it incredibly easy for me to just be myself.

I was incredibly nervous at the start of the interview, because my application materials were pretty abrasive and out there, especially my SOP (statement of purpose) - which was almost entirely fictional and mentioned usage of hard drugs among other things, so I had no idea what to expect (I showed my SOP to like 8 of my friends and teachers and 5 of them loved and 3 of them hated it lol). But they started out the interview talking about how much they liked my scripts and my SOP, and how it showed a strong voice! Going in I was just hoping they'd mention my materials once or twice because I've read on here that that's a good sign, but they mentioned them several times over the course of the interview. I nearly cried tbh.

As for the interview itself, the questions they asked me were essentially the same questions they asked Septopus, so THANK YOU Septopus. The only significant difference is that they asked me about a story I wanted to write in the first workshop (they didn't specifically want a movie pitch like what Septopus mentioned). I actually had a movie pitch prepared based off one of the scripts I submitted for my app but they wanted an entirely different story - which was alright, I just gave them a backup idea I had that wasn't as fleshed out.

At one point they asked me if music inspired my creative process, and I pulled out the vinyl copy of LIL UGLY MANE's MISTA THUG ISOLATION that was sitting next to me (I had it prepared in case they asked a question about my creative inspirations), which they thought was really funny. At the end of the interview Jacob even asked for the name of the record again. I hope he listens to it lol. Any interview where I can introduce my interviewer to LIL UGLY MANE's music is a success in my book.

I also read on here before that the interviewers debate the movies with you and that you better know your stuff, but for me that wasn't the case (at least with Anna and Jacob). It was more like a friendly conversation, where we talked about how great and underrated First Reformed was (among other things).

In general the vibe I got from the interview is that they aren't actually looking for perfect answers to every question. They just want to get an idea of who you are. As others have said, it didn't feel like a quiz AT ALL. Seriously don't stress out too hard about it. Just come prepared, and don't worry about getting stumped, or giving an imperfect answer, they're very generous and non judgemental. I asked Giovanni during our interview if they were going to be expecting a polished 'hollywood' style pitch, and he said (I'm paraphrasing here) "look, if they were expecting a perfect hollywood pitch from you, they wouldn't be expecting you to come to film school, that's what your coming here to learn."

So good luck to everyone! And don't stress too hard! I hope this helps!

Also shout out to Septopus for their helpful ass post. Based off what you said it sounds like you have a really good shot of getting in my dude.

I hope to see ya'll at AFI next year.
Sounds like an amazing interview! I'll be shocked if you dont get in!
 

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
I haven't posted here before but I've been reading it for a while and ya'll have helped me out enormously, so I figured I'd hit you guys back and tell you how my interview went, and what we talked about among other things.
Great post! Thank you and good luck!
 

Cody Young

Tattoo/Film Enthusiast
So I had my interview yesterday and similar to everyone else here, it started out with a discussion with Giovanni in admissions. This was just to go over cost of the program, my intentions of how I would pay for it, (Grad Plus Loans and Scholarships all day long). Then he asked me if there were any questions I had for him, which in my case was the singular concern for housing, due to the fact that AFI has no on-campus housing. He told me that once I was accepted, AFI has certain facebook groups and other means to help students pair up and find housing close to campus. Essentially, they can help you find housing, whether it be through formal or informal means. At some point during the Skype call I received a message from my screenwriting interviewers, Michael Urban and Sarah Swingley, saying that they had finished early and could interview me at that point. My heart rate skyrocketed! It took a few more minutes to finish up with Giovanni and during that time he took my picture with my placard sheet and told me about how the interview was very laid back, which I honestly doubted due to the immense anxiety I was feeling, but to all those that still have to interview, it is a fairly laid back affair.

As I mentioned before, the interview was fairly laid back and it felt like a conversation more than an interview. If I had any advice for those of you still planning on interviewing, it would be to treat it like a conversation with a fellow film buff because that's who these people are, members of a faculty who love movies just as much as you.

Michael and Sarah started off asking me about where I live, trying to figure out where it was exactly. (It is a very small town.) Then the conversation turned to my samples, questions about why I want to write/career goals. and questions about a short script I had that was recently produced by a fairly well known director and what that process was like for me. Lastly, they asked what films/TV shows I liked currently. I mentioned to them that I absolutely loved Hereditary and told them an anecdote about how my Apple Watch thought I was working out during the scene where Charlie loses her head and how I wanted to craft stories that evoked similar reactions in audience members. They laughed at that so I took that as a good sign. Followed by this I mentioned how I absolutely love 50's and 60's Sci-Fi/Horror Films and we spent a good 3 minutes talking about William Castle's The Tingler and the gimmicks used in theaters. Also, when I mentioned Hereditary, they asked if I had seen Ari Aster's thesis short film, He's an AFI alum. I had seen the thesis film and we talked about that for a few minutes although I wish I had a more prepared answer or had at least rewatched the short film beforehand as I felt that my comments on it were very cosmetic and not that well thought out.

Overall, I was super nervous about this interview but Michael and Sarah were both great at mitigating my anxiety and it felt like a free flowing conversation compared to an interview. I think it went fairly well but I'm sure I'll find out come March 15th.
 

Septopus7

Moderator
Staff member
@hunteros Glad my experience could be of help, and thank you for also providing a pretty thorough follow-up yourself. Especially appreciate you asking the "how many people interviewed?" question. I REALLY wanted to ask that question as well, but chickened out at the last moment, afraid it would look bad to ask the two faculty members. But asking Giovanni was definitely the smart move there!

And it's nice to hear that they don't interview a whole bunch of people, as many suspected. Knowing we're part of a select group that AFI liked, rather than just everyone who bothered to apply, is a nice esteem boost. It also speaks super well on the folks of this forum. I guess we're just awesome, y'all!
 

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