AFI Screenwriting 2020 "An Encounter"

A_J

Member
Supporting Member
AFI
SO had my interview this evening. I realize I’m probably one of the earlier interviewees, so I’m posting my experience here to help ease the minds of those to follow.

First of all, I was VERY nervous. I chugged a coffee before hand - not a great idea. When I spoke to Giovanni in the pre-interview he asked how I was doing and I straight up told him I was nervous. He told me, “This will be the chillest interview you ever have.” He was very kind and reassuring. Definitely helped calm my nerves even if just a little. He also told me that the acceptance/denial/waitlist notification date would probably be March 13 or 16.

I interviewed with Anna Thomas and Jacob Forman. They were both incredibly nice and were very easy to talk to. I really liked them both. The conversation started when Jacob commented on a drawing of an octopus he could see hanging on my wall behind me. We had a nice conversation about cephalopods and the book “Other Minds” lol. It was an unexpected yet nice way to ease into the rest of the interview.

Here are some of the questions they asked me (at least everything I can remember), though I will say the conversation flowed pretty organically and many questions seemed to come up naturally in conversation and were specific to me.

Where are you speaking to us from? How is it there?

What’s your interest in screenwriting?

I brought up my family at some point in here and that transitioned the conversation into more questions about my family and then some specific questions about my personal essay.

What’s a feature you would like to write for your first project?

Any questions for us?

What’s the longest script you’ve written?

What movies did you like this year?

What movies did you not like?

Are you reading any screenplays?

I genuinely enjoyed the conversation and I think they did too, but who knows! Hoping for the best come March. I hope this helps calm some nerves and good luck to you all!
 

Memz

Member
Supporting Member
AFI
Columbia
Awesome, thanks for this and glad to hear it went well! From what I read they're all really nice and it's more a get-to-know-you vibe than anything else, which eases my mind.

Can I ask what exactly they meant by 'your interest in screenwriting'? Did they mean it as in, what you love about writing for the screen, or what you want to do with it in future, i.e. career goals?
 

A_J

Member
Supporting Member
AFI
Awesome, thanks for this and glad to hear it went well! From what I read they're all really nice and it's more a get-to-know-you vibe than anything else, which eases my mind.

Can I ask what exactly they meant by 'your interest in screenwriting'? Did they mean it as in, what you love about writing for the screen, or what you want to do with it in future, i.e. career goals?
Yeah, it definitely felt like a get to know you type of thing. Most of these questions I had found in the past years forums, so I did feel pretty prepared despite the nervousness.

When they asked that question I talked about what kinds of screenplays/stories I was interested in writing. I spoke a bit about what genres I was interested in and when I explained where my darker sense of humor comes from the conversation transitioned away into more personal questions. I'm thinking they ask it in that ambiguous way for a reason - you could probably answer it however you like. I think it's best to figure out what you want them to know about you and your writing and direct the conversation that way. I know that's not a straightforward answer, but I hope it helps!
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
I made an official thread just for AFI Interview questions if you want to add them there as well so they're easier to find.

 

Memz

Member
Supporting Member
AFI
Columbia
Yeah, it definitely felt like a get to know you type of thing. Most of these questions I had found in the past years forums, so I did feel pretty prepared despite the nervousness.

When they asked that question I talked about what kinds of screenplays/stories I was interested in writing. I spoke a bit about what genres I was interested in and when I explained where my darker sense of humor comes from the conversation transitioned away into more personal questions. I'm thinking they ask it in that ambiguous way for a reason - you could probably answer it however you like. I think it's best to figure out what you want them to know about you and your writing and direct the conversation that way. I know that's not a straightforward answer, but I hope it helps!
Right, makes sense. I've seen that question before from previous AFI interviews and I just found it so ambiguous. Thanks for elaborating!
 

Chiarizka

New Member
Hello everyone! This Friday I had my Skype interview so I thought to write something about it, just to help others and reduce their stress level ahaha

I spoke with a woman on the first part, not to Giovanni, I couldn't actually get her name because she was speaking too fast for my understanding (english is not my first language). But she said the usual things about AFI, and then she asked me if I had questions for her (and to leave the more specific ones about the course for the later interview), so actually I just ask her about the accommodation and housing in LA (I'm from Europe). Then we ended the call and I waited for the second part.

So I was interviewed by Anna Thomas and Jonathan Fernandez! As almost everyone said in the past, they were super chill and relaxed. I don't remember all the questions they actually made me (because sometimes they came from previous ones or from my personal statement), but here are the ones I remember ahah:

- They asked me about the place I'm currently living now and how is it and for how long I've been living there

- They asked me about my past screenwriting courses/laboratories, how they were structured and how many people were in the class

- They asked me about my past scripts, how many pages is actually the longest screenplay I've ever written

- They asked me if I wanted to write for the cinema or television

- They asked me about my interest in screenwriting and why AFI Conservatory

- They asked me if I'm going to LA to stay or just to go back to Europe after finishing the screenwriting course

- They asked me which are the films I liked the most this year and why (be ready on the newest ones)

Then I made two questions (near the end of the interview) so we chatted a little bit more and more personal questions were asked during that part.

I personally think it was a good interview but we actually can't say that for sure. I think for the questions they made, there is not a specific/right answer, it's just they want to know you and see if you could fit in their program.
Personally I enjoyed my time with both of them, even if maybe I've spoken a little too much and we were running out of time so Jonathan actually wanted to ask me a few questions but there wasn't the time!
Guys, speaking from my experience, really there are no right answers to this kind of interview, they really just want to know you, so be yourself.
I don't know if I'm going to be accepted or not, but in the end I really enjoyed my time with them, so that's more than enough for me :)
And btw, the time actually has really flown, when we ended the interview I was like "that short? Maybe they weren't so interested in my answers..." but then I realized that I talked with them for half an hour! So really guys, relax.
I really hope my experience could help someone and please, feel free to ask me anything about it :) Good luck!
 

Sastre

New Member
Hey! I'll post the schedule here from bootcamp.
This is tremendously helpful. Thank you for doing this! May I ask how's your schedule nowadays? I would like to know if as screenwriter in the Conservatory program you get to be in classes with producers, directors, editors etc... and whether you may have the opportunity to direct your own screenplays at a certain point during those 2 years.
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
AFI
LMU
This is tremendously helpful. Thank you for doing this! May I ask how's your schedule nowadays? I would like to know if as screenwriter in the Conservatory program you get to be in classes with producers, directors, editors etc... and whether you may have the opportunity to direct your own screenplays at a certain point during those 2 years.
Hi!
You don’t get to direct your own thing. That’s strictly for the directing discipline and fosters the collaboration they drive home so much. You can be chosen to produce or direct a cinematographers silent film if they choose to have you as such. You may also get to 1st or 2nd AD on a cycle set but mostly directors do that to. My schedule is:

Tues-1:30 to 4:30
Wed-6 to 9
Thurs-9:30 to 4:30
Fri-9:30 to 9:30 for two more weeks then our Friday night class drops off so I’ll be done at 5.
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
AFI
LMU
Wow, that sounds awesome (and also sounds like a lot of work)! Do you find the close integration to the production disciplines intimidating or have you had a lot of experience on sets before?
Hey. I had no production experience beforehand and a lot of writers honestly didn’t. It’s not intimidating. You’re there to learn. So just be open to that.
 

kreativesoul

Active Member
AFI
LMU
Also you are only in general assembly classes with everyone. For the most part your classes are exclusive to screenwriting unless it’s a screening class like American approaches to film. Boot camp is also with everyone for the most part. For anyone who acts you would need to be apart of the SAG Conservatory to act and you cannot act in your own films. They really drive home perfecting the discipline you’re in. So there won’t be really any chances to direct something if you’re in screenwriting or produce something as it relates to school. It really is about being great at your chosen things and fostering collaboration.
 

sarahkwUT

Member
Supporting Member
AFI
Chapman
USC
Had my interview today and really enjoyed it. We spoke for 24 minutes - they actually called a couple of minutes early! It was a good conversation, felt like it could have gone on for a while. They were both very complimentary of my work, which if nothing else was a vote of confidence.

I had very different questions than whats been mentioned here - it was pretty clear that I intend to write for television, so we talked about the why as well as a number of questions about why I'm willing to leave a stable situation on one coast in favor of trying my hand at television writing.

Now... We wait! I was told March 13 OR March 16 for notifications.

(And may I recommend not having two interviews on one day - after getting your eyes dilated that morning? :))
 

MJSTEWA

New Member
Hey everyone, I interviewed today and my interview lasted a total of 15 minutes. I was kind of shocked when it was over. I don’t take that as a good sign, and yet there was nothing that occurred during the interview that made me think that I said something wrong. We kind of flew through all the standard questions which I had prepared for and the interviewers seemed complimentary of my samples and the preparation I had put into preparing for AFI. Anyways, I hope I didn’t come off in an offputting way, but I guess I won’t know until March. Regardless, good luck to all the other applicants!
 

sarahkwUT

Member
Supporting Member
AFI
Chapman
USC
Hey everyone, I interviewed today and my interview lasted a total of 15 minutes. I was kind of shocked when it was over. I don’t take that as a good sign, and yet there was nothing that occurred during the interview that made me think that I said something wrong. We kind of flew through all the standard questions which I had prepared for and the interviewers seemed complimentary of my samples and the preparation I had put into preparing for AFI. Anyways, I hope I didn’t come off in an offputting way, but I guess I won’t know until March. Regardless, good luck to all the other applicants!
At the risk of being the pot calling the kettle black because I've definitely been guilty of overanalyzing - perhaps they were simply booked back to back? Mine also ended before I thought it was going to, but I figured they were pretty booked and it was right at their lunch time.

Try not to fret. And remind me I said that. :)
 

Memz

Member
Supporting Member
AFI
Columbia
Hey guys

Had my interview in person today at AFI. They were so lovely, and as mentioned by various others, it's more of a free flowing conversation about who you are and how that translates into your suitability as a screenwriter.

A lot of it was a discussion around my background, the countries I've lived in and how I got into film. Then a discussion about the films of the award season, i.e. what I liked, what I didn't like and their responses to that. Then about my writing, my sample and the types of stories I wanna tell. Finally, there was question time and we chatted about the curriculum and the transition to industry event at the end of the program. It went for 40 minutes (and had about a 5 minute chat with admissions to discuss logistics and financials before that).

I'd say - just be yourself, be ready and willing to engage in discussion about current films, know your material and know why you're there!

Brb, just gonna anxiously wait for a month.
 

princessjasmine

Active Member
Supporting Member+
AFI
Hey guys

Had my interview in person today at AFI. They were so lovely, and as mentioned by various others, it's more of a free flowing conversation about who you are and how that translates into your suitability as a screenwriter.

A lot of it was a discussion around my background, the countries I've lived in and how I got into film. Then a discussion about the films of the award season, i.e. what I liked, what I didn't like and their responses to that. Then about my writing, my sample and the types of stories I wanna tell. Finally, there was question time and we chatted about the curriculum and the transition to industry event at the end of the program. It went for 40 minutes (and had about a 5 minute chat with admissions to discuss logistics and financials before that).

I'd say - just be yourself, be ready and willing to engage in discussion about current films, know your material and know why you're there!

Brb, just gonna anxiously wait for a month.
I’m so glad it went well! May I ask who you interviewed with?
 

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