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Film MFA No Experience/ Program Recommendations?


Hi everyone!

I'm a junior in college right now majoring in English and minoring in Africana Studies, and I recently have started realizing I may want to work in film. I have no film experience but have done a lot of journalism and literary/visual magazine work and have done many creative works (poetry, mostly). I'm an English major and hopefully will be taking a Screenwriting class in the Fall, but that is the extent to which my college supports film really.

I want to spend the next few months/year (even though in a perfect world I would apply this Fall) trying to teach myself how to create content logistically so I can complete applications, but we'll see how that goes. I was wondering how out there would it be for me to apply to an MFA program in film? Ideally I'd want to go into directing, but I also enjoy writing and have no shortage of ideas for movies, I'd just want to direct them rather than hand off scripts.

I see the purpose of a Masters to learn and genuinely want to do so through film school, but are my chances just abysmal for any good school? I do have above 3.7 gpa from a top liberal arts college and a good resume with a lot of very different experiences, it's just not film-focused. I would want to do a program that is very focused on the industry and those kind of connections but also ideally offers a wide range of experiences. While I don't have film experience, my resume is quit strong academically and extra-curricularly besides that. Does anyone have any program recommendations as well?
I'm far from the only person to listen to. I'd make sure you get a lot of opinions before you send out applications, but from what I know you don't need any kind of film college for film graduate school. Although it might help a little.

I know a couple people who have gotten degrees in sciences and have gotten into an MFA program. So I wouldn't worry about that.

In fact different backgrounds might come across as appealing.

However, most mfa directing programs ask to see previous work. Some of them even ask for 2 videos. One you've made and then one for specifically their application (AFI) I think theres a couple directions you could take that. You could either write and direct your own thing. Reach out to people to help you. Or you could go and try to get experience on set, and try to learn quickly, and meet people who would help your film.

I think colleges will look at your creativity with the movie rather than your production value. Meaning your writing will probably come into play a lot here.

I will just for warn that when I went to film school the teachers asked the students how many of us wanted to write and direct. And about 96% of students raised their hands. Then by the end of the class probably about 15% of the students still wanted to direct. It's definitely something that you learn is for you by doing it. Not nearly as glamorous as myself, or other people assume. It's a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, and things never go the exact way you want it to.

I hope that doesn't discourage anything. It's incredibly rewarding to complete a film, and directing may be the exact thing for you.

It's just an insane amount of hard work. I think there is an overly dramatized idea of the "Hollywood life" of having easy work, making millions, signing autographs, hanging with hot people, but it's far from that. The only people that are close to that are actors, and you don't hear about how even they have to get up at 4 in the morning for make up. Or put in 16 hour days 6 days a week for 3 months.

Again not meaning to discourage it's just a fake idea Hollywood seems to have on people. If you think it's for you and really want to direct, then I suggest spending your time on writing a 5 min short. and make it as creative as possible. drama is hard to do in 5 minutes, comedy usually works better. And then I'd reach out to other filmmakers you know, and if need be friends and family to shoot it. Then I'd apply to the top 10 schools. Hollywood reporter rates them every year. You can't go wrong with chapman, loyola, usc, ucla, afi, columbia, nyu.

Good Luck!


Thank you so much! This is all great info and not discouraging at all. Something that made me realize I want to do film is that it's the only job I can imagine doing anything, even just getting coffee for the set all day, and still feel fulfilled and accomplished. Even if the role was small, I helped make the film or tv show. Hard work actually attracts me, so working hard on something I love is the life I dream of for myself.
I was admitted to Chapman this year with no “experience”. I didn’t study screenwriting or film in undergrad. Since my focus was on television writing, I spent time breaking down scripts and teleplays to get a handle on the format. And I wrote. When I had a chance to take screenwriting workshops in undergrad, I jumped at the opportunity. Honing your storytelling skills can take you far, in my experience.

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