Hello from West Texas - 50 yrs old and applying for my MFA...


New Member
Hi y'all. I'm new to this, and thankful that I found this group!
Brief background - I'm a former broadcast journalist (10 years - reporter, producer, evening news anchor... Won a couple of awards..) When I was getting my BA in Communication Deisgn/Media Arts in CA, my 3 children were little, and I was a single parent... I really wanted to go into film, but I already had a foot in the door at the local TV station, plus I just couldn't figure out how to do film as a parent and be financially stable... So I went with what I thought would fit best for my family at the time. Fast Forward - kids are grown, and I find myself now teaching 2 undergrad courses at a 4 year university - and getting my Masters - only to discover that the school doesn't offer an MFA. (Long story, but the job "landed in my lap" and I felt like I should do it - even though I was actually considering moving to Austin at the time...) So, after being there about a month, I realized that what I had wanted to do years ago - make movies - would now be an option! The problem is, the school doesn't offer an MFA...
So, I'm now looking at schools that offer MFA in video production (I forgot to mention, I am already working on a short and a documentary,. Research stages for the doc).
I'm a little worried about the talk of taking the GRE? It's been YEARS since my BA (2006) and I probably wouldn't recognize an algorithm if it was right in front of me! Do all schools require this? I'm pretty confident in my logic and writing abilities... Thankfully.)
I've also been told that my expansive background in broadcasting might help me get in? Thoughts? I know I'm crazy - at my age - to be pursuing this... But you know how it is... If it's in your heart, you gotta do it!
What's the timeline for the process? Anyone? I'm looking at UT-Austin (my Mom is there, she's in a facility for dementia - so I would love to be close to her..) and University of North Texas - because it's still here in the state - I don't want to be too far from my Mom. (She's approaching 80). Any other schools that anyone can think of, that aren't super far... And any advice about $ would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!!!
Looking forward to chatting with y'all.


FilmSchool.org Writer
I don't think you're crazy in the slightest! You're an inspiration in my book.

Before your specific questions, I have one for you - one which I guarantee will continue come up in your admission process also: Why do you want an MFA? Yes, film is different than broadcast, absolutely, but with your extensive background in production, what will obtaining an MFA add to your knowledge, skill, network, etc. I ask this because I am frequently asked the same thing - I'm 30 and have been working professionally in film/TV/commercial production for roughly 7 years. The first time I applied for my MFA was last year and I didn't have a fully formed answer to this question until now. Understanding my motivation, my alternative paths, and having an end game is helping me a lot with my applications this year. You mentioned you are already working on a doc - a follow up question might be, should you be putting your resources, funding, grants (and there are plenty for docs and women filmmakers) into efforts on your doc rather than towards an MFA? What is your 'end game' - do you want to direct, produce, write, DP, art direct...etc? do you want to work in scripted, doc, tv...etc? These are the questions I ask my students, PAs, myself on a regular basis because there are more options and paths than ever.

As for the GRE - I am not going to sugar coat it, it will suck. I graduated in 2012 from undergrad and 2004 from HS. A lot of the math on the GRE is based on geometry and other concepts that I haven't spent time on since high school. A lot of it is logic based, but I didn't find that helped me much. That said, the only programs I've come across where the test is required, is Texas. Other schools suggest it if the student or require it only if the applicant has below a 3.0 GPA. I avoided it last year, in part due to the late timing of my applications. No such luck this year as I've realized Austin is my #1 choice.

UT-A deadline is Dec 1st. I'm not sure about their other campuses. Based on last year they notify around January I believe. I strongly recommend checking out the program website and emailing the program to see if you feel like you have enough time to get your materials together. It took about a week after my GRE to get my final score results, so that should be a factor in your timing as well. The Apply Texas process involves submitting the fee and basic information like addresses, previous schools, contact information for references first, then after a few days you are given access to submit any specific materials such as a statement of purpose, essays, video materials, etc.

And then finances -- UT-A is probably one of the strongest and most affordable programs in the entire country, especially because you are a Texas resident. As I already mentioned, you would probably qualify for a lot of women in filmmaking grants for your doc also - you should definitely look into those. Women In Film is a great place to start.

I hope that response wasn't too terribly long and was helpful! Also be sure to check out the Grad School section of this forum as you're researching, there's a wealth of information from previous years.
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