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Film school admission myths

Yuk

Member
Hey, I've been on this website for nearly a year and was able to receive a lot of helpful info.

Now that the admission process has nearly ended, I thought I could put together some information that I wish I had known before.
Hopefully, this information could help those who plan to apply at the end of this year.

I'd like to start by adding a little disclaimer that I'm only speaking based on my own experience :)
I've applied to 6 producing programs (USC/UCLA/NYU dual degree/Columbia/AFI/Chapman) was interviewed by 5 (UCLA denied without interview) and admitted by 4 (USC denied after interview).


1. Is GPA important?
I don't know if the fact that I'm an international student had any effect, but I had a very low undergrad GPA. When converted to the American scale of 4.0, my GPA would be 2.98. Each school probably has a different transcript evaluation method, but I am certain that at some schools this must have been below the minimum requirement.
I took the GRE since I was planning to apply to NYU's dual degree program (The MBA program requires a GRE or GMAT score). I had a score of V: 160 Q: 165 W: 3.5, and I only submitted it to NYU Stern. I didn't submit my GRE score to other schools not because I was confident in any way..but because I didn't know I could submit it additionally when the school doesn't require it.
I'm not saying that GPA is unimportant since it's the best way to show your academic skills, but if you are hesitant in applying because of a very low undergrad GPA, there are definitely other ways to show you're a strong applicant.

2. Would interviewing online hurt my chances?
I had all my interviews online. I wasn't willing to pay and travel a 13-hour one-way flight for a school that I'm not even sure will accept me.
NYU only offered me the choice of an in-person interview, but I told them I was unable to travel. They emailed me a few days later that after committee discussion, they would allow me to have an online interview. I was a bit concerned at this point since they made it sound like they were doing me a huge favor..but they eventually accepted me. Besides the Stark interview that was a nightmare for me(Larry Sturman was dozing off through the whole interview), all other interviews went very smoothly.

If you have the chance, definitely do an in-person interview and have a tour around the school and see their facilities. But if you don't have the resources (time, money) to travel, I would say don't push yourself thinking that it could hurt your chances.

3. Does requesting financial aid affect the admission decision?
I've expressed my need for financial aid to all schools. I've been very clear in all stages of application that I need funding from the institute.

4. (Producing Applicants) Do I need a video portfolio?/ Experience on my own project?
I've worked for local distributors and production companies in marketing/development, but I have never worked on my own project.
I've never produced my own film and was concerned that this would make me a weak applicant.
NYU was the only school where visual portfolio submission was mandatory, and I submitted hand-drawn artwork of the treatment I submitted.
One of my interviewers (I think it was Chapman) told me that the majority of their students have no prior experience in production.



Long story short, I had my doubts and worries, thinking that no school will accept me. But if it's something you really know you want and need, you should go for it.
This isn't a lot of information but I hope it gives courage to some of you who are still debating whether to apply or not.
And if anyone has anything to add please feel free to do so!
 

JEC

Member
Good thread idea...

Another thread mentioned concern about NYU in particular being "PC" about what they wanted and other writing programs focusing on socially progressive storylines and such...I got into NYU and have never written anything remotely socially redeeming AND I'm a straight white male so I think we can leave the supposed political correctness fears in the mind of Ben Carson where they belong.
 
Good thread idea...

Another thread mentioned concern about NYU in particular being "PC" about what they wanted and other writing programs focusing on socially progressive storylines and such...I got into NYU and have never written anything remotely socially redeeming AND I'm a straight white male so I think we can leave the supposed political correctness fears in the mind of Ben Carson where they belong.
It's all a part of the liberal pc master plan. Once they get you in... hohohohohooo

I'm sorry I'm jetlagged.
 
I also want to add that my mindset when trying to get in was: I have to be amazing and perfect and I'm not so I probably can't get in.

But in reality schools are looking for potential. Which is hard to sift through but it means that FOR SURE you don't have to be the best around. I had a few tiny spelling mistakes in my statement of purpose that tore. Me. Up. After I submitted it and re-read it weeks later. I woke up in the middle of the night sweating. And there were other small things....

My point is that idea can be more valuable to them than execution or experience.
 
Besides the Stark interview that was a nightmare for me(Larry Sturman was dozing off through the whole interview), all other interviews went very smoothly.
Something similar happened to me during my Columbia interview, or at least it felt like it. One of the interviwers was just there in the BG and the main interviewer said "I think that may be it"(only like 10 minutes into the interview). At that point I felt devastated! But I asked a couple of questions that kept the conversation going and eventually they asked more questions and created a very insightful interview.

For me the process was very straightforward and my main finding has been: Do it! Keep on doing it even if you are tired or you don't feel good enough. This schools want to see potential and also they want to hear about you and learn what you are bringing to the table. An interview is an opportunity for you to not only answer why you should be admitted but also why they would love to have you in the program.

Feel good about you and do your best, and never be afraid to ask for an extension, more scholarship or a waiver. The schools are always trying to help you.
 
Honestly, I don't think your GPA matters that much. But don't get me wrong, having a good GPA definitely helps things, but it will not be the factor that not let you in film school. I think your essays matters, your experience matter and your portfolio matters. If you want to be a DP, go out and start shooting, learn how to light and learn the technique. If you want to be directors, just go do it! The point it, you learn from your project and you learn from your mistake. If I look at some of my earlier work, I cringe, but it is a part of me. The bottom line is, get on as many sets as you can, do what you love and perfect your skills!
 
Honestly, I don't think your GPA matters that much. But don't get me wrong, having a good GPA definitely helps things, but it will not be the factor that not let you in film school. I think your essays matters, your experience matter and your portfolio matters. If you want to be a DP, go out and start shooting, learn how to light and learn the technique. If you want to be directors, just go do it! The point it, you learn from your project and you learn from your mistake. If I look at some of my earlier work, I cringe, but it is a part of me. The bottom line is, get on as many sets as you can, do what you love and perfect your skills!

My upper-division gpa was a 3.0 with my whole cumulative being a 2.8 or so. I agree, I don't think GPA is the strongest weight on your application.
 

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