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Columbia University Film MFA 1st Year, AMA!

pwoods96

New Member
Hello! Currently applying to Columbia's Film MFA for Screenwriting/Directing. I have a few questions.
  1. Curious to know if you have any favorite professors, or if there is one you're hoping to have as your adviser for your thesis?
  2. Based on your knowledge, what is the alumni network like post-grad? Do most graduates go on to become directors and screenwriters after leaving, or is that pool small? Is the network active in the Columbia community?
  3. How competitive are students in the program? I attended a similar, small, conservatory-like film program for undergrad and the environment was at best, competitive, and at worst, toxic. Have you experienced anything like that? If not, do you know anyone who has?
  4. Based on your application and time at Columbia, what is the program looking for in a successful application?
 

lucychoi97

Member
Supporter
Hi I have a question. I've never lived in the Eastern part of the U.S. before like NY and I was wondering what kind of route do you take on after graduating from MFA in NY. FYI I'm international student and am willing to attend MFA programs there. Do they apply for internships or production companies? I wonder what they do after graduation!
 

abu2030

Member
Hey @abu2030, hope you are keeping well in these trying times. I am from India and planning to apply to the MFA Directing program. Could you let me in on some advice for my application? I would also like to know how common/rare are scholarships for international students. I also wanted to know who shoot your films as the DOP considering there isn't any dedicated Cinematography course.

Regards.
hey i'm so sorry, i just saw this message. i hope you applied and that your application is successful!

there are definitely a handful of scholarships for international students, but no federal loans. many students secure at least some funding from their own countries.

regarding cinematography...for exercises we usually do our own cinematography or have a classmate do it. every year there's at least a handful of actors who come from a DOP background so they tend to be very popular in the first semester or so. i didn't have any cinematography experience prior to this program but i've also done the cinematography for some of my classmates' exercises. for bigger projects and thesis you can also "hire" your classmates, or hire other students/professionals if you like, so long as their fees fit into your budget. good luck!
 

abu2030

Member
Hello! Currently applying to Columbia's Film MFA for Screenwriting/Directing. I have a few questions.
  1. Curious to know if you have any favorite professors, or if there is one you're hoping to have as your adviser for your thesis?
  2. Based on your knowledge, what is the alumni network like post-grad? Do most graduates go on to become directors and screenwriters after leaving, or is that pool small? Is the network active in the Columbia community?
  3. How competitive are students in the program? I attended a similar, small, conservatory-like film program for undergrad and the environment was at best, competitive, and at worst, toxic. Have you experienced anything like that? If not, do you know anyone who has?
  4. Based on your application and time at Columbia, what is the program looking for in a successful application?
1. I definitely have professors that I have really enjoyed, but I will say I have been very fortunate in that I haven't had a class with anyone that I absolutely hated. i don't know what concentration i'm choosing yet, but i imagine i'll get paired with someone who i have an existing relationship with who cares about my work.
2. If you interview, ask them this question!! i don't have firsthand knowledge regarding how tightly knit the alumni network is, but i do know the program has different initiatives to keep us connected, such as the Blue List, which is like the Black List but for Columbia. How successful that is and what the industry retention rate of the program is I truly don't know, and is a question they should answer for you!
3. It's going to vary year by year, but Columbia tries very hard to foster a collaborative environment. I can't tell you it's never clique-y or anything, but overall we're all fans of each other's work and you tend to find the people you enjoy working with.
4. sorry i was awol and wasn't able to answer this question. idk if i would have been very helpful though, as the only application i have experience with was my own :/
 

abu2030

Member
Hi I have a question. I've never lived in the Eastern part of the U.S. before like NY and I was wondering what kind of route do you take on after graduating from MFA in NY. FYI I'm international student and am willing to attend MFA programs there. Do they apply for internships or production companies? I wonder what they do after graduation!
yes and you're encouraged to take on internships during your stay in the program too. there's a lot of production work here, so some students choose to stay on when they graduate (or because the city is rad in its own right). i imagine every year at least a handful migrate to LA too.
 

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