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AFI Screenwriting 2020 "An Encounter"

Chiarizka

New Member
Congrats @Chiarizka!! I'm passing on AFI and just committed to LMU, because of money mostly. So hopefully another person on the waitlist is about to hear some really good news!
Thank you very much! I'm still over the moon for this news, but now it comes the unpleasant part about all this coronavirus situation, the questions about online classes and, of course, the possibility to defer (if I can't go because of the ban) :( I'm glad to hear that in the end you decided for LMU! Are you happy with it? Did they offer you a scholarship? :)
 

Memz

Active Member
Hey! I'm wondering what factors, other than financial, are pushing you in this direction re-Columbia over AFI? I feel like I have less of a grasp on Columbia, for some reason, though loved my interview.

Hey!

So there are a few things. And this is obviously from my own observations and conclusions, I am sure some people will wanna fight me on a few of these things.

AFI didn't give me a scholarship while Columbia did, which apart from just making it more financially viable for me to attend Columbia, also told me that the faculty at Columbia sees more potential in me and are willing to make an investment for me to attend.

In addition to that, AFI is a stand alone film school while Columbia is a major institution with thousands of students in other programs. I debated the pros and cons of this for a while. I figured that meant less bureaucracy at AFI and no need to fight for resources and attention from other programs. But then I read what someone wrote about potentially missing the campus feel and being part of something bigger. Which kind of spoke to me. Columbia is one of the oldest universities in the U.S. with a wide and diverse alumni (I mean going through this list is pretty mind-blowing - J.D. Salinger, Hunter S Thompson, Jim Jarmusch, Jack Kerouac, Barack Obama, RBG, Alexander Hamilton etc etc). Attending this school means more to me than just film school. It's joining a wide and prestigious network that will be with me for the rest of my career.

Another thing I've taken into consideration is the fact that the MFA program at Columbia has 72 spots, as opposed to 140 when you count all the different programs at AFI. It tells me - although guesswork here - that you may build a few more closer connections at Columbia, seeing as there are less people. Also, you won't be divided into six different programs which might create some smaller barriers between the different concentrations. At Columbia, there are two divisions and you all take the same classes the first full year of the program. There are 48 students in the Screenwriting & Directing program and you're all kinda in the same boat.

There are more personal aspects of it as well. I will say I had amazing interviews with both AFI and Columbia. Really relaxed and personal and both sets of interviewers had clearly read my materials a few times over. But there was something Eric said when I brought up the question regarding LA vs NY as a place to study film. He said while I might end up going to LA after school and pursuing work there, my MFA is primarily a time for me to nurture my stories. And he thought my stories belonged at a place like Columbia. Which kinda made me feel like I found my home.

Finally, I will admit I am slightly biased. My sister did her MFA in Film at Columbia and through her I've made quite a few friends from the program. They are all such different and diverse filmmakers, with the one thing in common being that they're incredibly supportive of each other. I just love their community!

That ended up being a long post but it's hard to give a short answer to that question : ). Are you also deciding between the two?
 
Last edited:

Memz

Active Member
Oh, and just to give some more info about the program at Columbia, I can recommend this post from a thread last year when someone was deciding between NYU and Columbia. Gives a bit of insight about the focus in their program. What they're saying is also what I've heard from others who have attended.

Hey d,

Congrats! I was in the same position a few years ago, and it's a really tough decision! I ended up going with Columbia and I've been very happy with my choice. I think if storytelling is a priority, and if you really see yourself as a hybrid writer/director, Columbia may be the better choice for you too. The Dramatic Writing program at Tisch is great for writing, but I've had friends in Grad Film (who loved it) tell me there is not very much writing instruction at all in their program. It definitely has fancier facilities and more extensive training in the technical aspects of production, but I personally believe in Columbia's approach, where everything starts with story (we still get ample technical training as well).
Columbia encourages everyone to write and direct, and the faculty is great on both sides. We do a LOT of both. Over the course of the program, everyone writes at least 2 feature films, probably at least 1 TV pilot, and you have the opportunity to direct 4-5 shorts (which you'll probably also write).
NYU may seem to have a stronger alumni list (that was definitely hard to turn down when I was deciding), but I've actually been really impressed with all of the under the radar people associated with Columbia, in all different corners of the industry. It's a close knit community and from the inside, the alumni network seems strong, and getting stronger every year.
Also, as important as connections are in film, they won't matter if you don't have the talent/skills to capitalize on your opportunities. So I'd prioritize finding the place you think will help you, personally, grow the most as an artist. Try not to feel too pressured by the external stuff and just pick what feels right. Good luck!
 

sarahkwUT

Contributor
Staff member
FilmSchool.org Writer
Oh my gosh I just got an email for a pretty decent scholarship! I am so shocked and so jazzed tbh. I think they might be giving more money possibly!

That's awesome!! Congrats!

I'm almost entirely committed to USC at this point as I think they're going to be the better fit for me for someone who wants to write for television, but I could still swing to AFI in the 11th hour!
 

princessjasmine

AFI Forum Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
That's awesome!! Congrats!

I'm almost entirely committed to USC at this point as I think they're going to be the better fit for me for someone who wants to write for television, but I could still swing to AFI in the 11th hour!

thank you so much! I’m so happy for you, you should definitely commit to a school that feels like the best fit for you! I wish you the best of luck :)
 

sarahkwUT

Contributor
Staff member
FilmSchool.org Writer
happy for you! What sort of advice did you receive, if you don’t mind me asking?

The two pieces of advice she gave that really helped:

- AFI is more feature/independent movie focused. You can definitely focus on television, but you're going to be writing and making movies. USC's wheelhouse is more TV-friendly.

- Look at the faculty and alumni and their work and see who resonates. Whose work is more in line with what you want to do?

So for me, as someone who wants to write for television - but never say never to features - those two bits of advice helped me decide. I was also able to speak with the admissions chair from USC and he made a few points that pushed me over the edge.

I honestly thought I was going AFI at one point, but I feel like I ultimately made the right choice for me. Now I'm just hoping all of this virus business packs its bags and gets out, because I'd like to visit LA before I move, haha.
 

princessjasmine

AFI Forum Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
That’s super helpful thank you so much! Independent features is exactly in my wheelhouse and what I write so that’s perfect for me. And I definitely looked at the faculty for AFI and am really excited about them. It’s good that you did your research before committing.
 

Chiarizka

New Member
I've just paid my AFI deposit!!! I really can't wait to start, I know things are really uncertain right now.. Someone paid it too or someone is considering to defer?
 

Leo86

Member
I've just paid my AFI deposit!!! I really can't wait to start, I know things are really uncertain right now.. Someone paid it too or someone is considering to defer?

Yeah! That's a nice feeling!!

I was under the impression that you can't choose to defer? I thought that you had to pay the deposits and sign enrollment papers to be able to write a request to be deferred by 1st of July? And that only boarder and/or immigration restrictions is valid reasons for getting approved the request. Maybe it is different for international students?
 

Deannae

New Member
I've just paid my AFI deposit!!! I really can't wait to start, I know things are really uncertain right now.. Someone paid it too or someone is considering to defer?
As an international student, I am concerned I won't have a choice but to request a deferral. I paid my deposit already but if they aren't going to issue student visas by June then I won't have any choice. It's super disappointing because I am really looking forward to attending AFI :(
 

Leo86

Member
As an international student, I am concerned I won't have a choice but to request a deferral. I paid my deposit already but if they aren't going to issue student visas by June then I won't have any choice. It's super disappointing because I am really looking forward to attending AFI :(

I feel you!! I'm having the same issue! I was so ready to start the education with AFI now. It's actually almost devastating to think that I might not be able to go this year! But I have to say that I am very glad that I have paid and sent in everything, so the only thing I need to do next year is preparing and applying for immigration and VISA stuff (As long as they accept my deferral request).

I wonder how they are gonna fill up our seats if we can't make it this year?
I'm at least going to wait until the end of June before I write any deferral request, just incase immigration opens in June.
However, If it for some reason opens in June, I'm going to have very little time to adjust myself, getting a place to stay etc before school starts. Are you planning to write a deferral request soon or are you going to wait?

It's so hard to plan ahead. So many uncertainties! o_O
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
You guys may find this article interesting if you haven't seen it yet:

Film School during COVID-19

Film School during COVID-19

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during this uncertain time. This article today is going to be a little different from the norm! Chris had the wonderful idea of writing up a little something about how different film schools are handling the COVID-19. I jumped on board immediately...
 

Deannae

New Member
I feel you!! I'm having the same issue! I was so ready to start the education with AFI now. It's actually almost devastating to think that I might not be able to go this year! But I have to say that I am very glad that I have paid and sent in everything, so the only thing I need to do next year is preparing and applying for immigration and VISA stuff (As long as they accept my deferral request).

I wonder how they are gonna fill up our seats if we can't make it this year?
I'm at least going to wait until the end of June before I write any deferral request, just incase immigration opens in June.
However, If it for some reason opens in June, I'm going to have very little time to adjust myself, getting a place to stay etc before school starts. Are you planning to write a deferral request soon or are you going to wait?

It's so hard to plan ahead. So many uncertainties! o_O
I was thinking the exact same thing! Last week I reached out of AFI requesting a deferral because I had given up on waiting. They advised me that because I'm coming from Canada, I don't need a student visa - just the form 1-20. I was not expecting that! It made me think I really should have reached out earlier for clarification. Fingers crossed the US government will lift the restriction for student visas though :)
 

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