Film School MFA No Experience?????


New Member
Hi everyone!

I'm a junior in college right now, 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, short stories, etc.). 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 trying to teach myself how to create content, 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? 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 a 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.


Active Member
Supporting Member
You do not need prior film experience for graduate school. Some schools teach you from the ground up while others want more practiced screenwriters whether self taught, under grad courses or industry experience. I have never seen it as a requirment though. I cant remember which schools exactly, but there are a few that allow you to apply with other creative work like short stories and plays. You just have to understand screenwriting enough to write their short prompts and show promise. They also want to know that you have a clear path so make sure that which ever concentration you choose, you feel confident that that is your direction.

I hope I helped. Check out the application requirments for MFAs you are interested in. They also may have a Q&A section answering the experience question.


Supporting Member
I didn’t have any film experience, either. But I majored in Creative Writing so that gave me a chance to really hone my skills as a storyteller. My school offered screenwriting classes, so I took those when I could. On my own, I studied screenplays and teleplays and practiced screenwriting. I wanted to make sure I had the formatting down. Like @WriterK90 said, if you show promise and talent, you can do it. :)


I guess it's just depend on what track you are interested in film. If you are interested in scriptwriting, learn the story structure and scrip writing format. Even if you are don't have any experience, you will be needing to submit script when you are applying. If you are interested in the film experience, I highly suggest you get on a couple sets as PA, just to see the process of filmmaking, and learn on sets.


Staff member
Supporting Member
The best thing about Screenwriting, if that's where you want to focus in, is that it takes pretty much no more than your brain to accomplish. Pretty much every screenwriter is self-taught in some way, even if you took classes or have a degree. You can build your own "experience" quite easily, right now, for free. Which doesn't necessarily mean you should have like 15 screenplays written by the time you apply to grad school: I sure as hell didn't. But it's a muscle you can work quite easily, at least in theory.

Other aspects of film work are harder, IMHO. To actually gain experience in directing, cinematography, editing, etc, you actually have to go out and DO something. Which, ugh, work -- it's a pain. It can also be a tough nut to crack if you have no previous experience working in those areas. I guess I can give you that age old advice "just go out and start making movies with your friends!!!" but, frankly, I find that mentally to be a little bit bullshit. But, hey, if that's an option for you, hell yeah take it. It's just easier said than done.

Either way, you don't need to major in something to get experience in it. There's plenty of ways to gain experience in film, especially for getting in to grad school (which, as other posters have mentioned, usually have a pretty low bar for the necessary amount of experience one "needs" to get in. Can be a factor, but isn't the only one.)


If you're interested in screenwriting programs---

I started screenwriting in my junior year, applied to MFA programs my senior year, and got in straight from undergrad. Received my degree in International Relations, barely any screenwriting experience besides the pages I submitted. Technical skills can be taught--- they're more interested in what type of stories you'll bring. Hope that helps!


New Member
Thank you everyone so much for your responses! These are all super helpful and will help inform what I focus on this summer.

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