Help with Person Statement for USC SCA spring 21

BigSpeaker12

Member
Supporting Member
Hello everyone, I'm applying to usc this summer and I wanted to know if anyone was interested in looking over my personal statment. I think it's a good start but there's some stuff I could probably expand on.
 

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addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
Hey there, BigSpeaker12!

So I read through your essay and I liked how it revolved around your experiencing of winning a contest but not getting credited nor compensated (damn your friend lol), but I think you could work in your essay what kind of stories are you drawn to telling and why. Basically, we know you are interested in storytelling, which is why you are applying to film school, but what exactly in storytelling are you interested in and why is that so--just so that your voice comes out more in the statement and so that the reader would know what kind of filmmaker/storyteller you want to become.

I'm by no means an expert on personal statements, so don't take my work as final gospel lol. I think it would be great if others could chime in too!
 

BigSpeaker12

Member
Supporting Member
Hey there, BigSpeaker12!

So I read through your essay and I liked how it revolved around your experiencing of winning a contest but not getting credited nor compensated (damn your friend lol), but I think you could work in your essay what kind of stories are you drawn to telling and why. Basically, we know you are interested in storytelling, which is why you are applying to film school, but what exactly in storytelling are you interested in and why is that so--just so that your voice comes out more in the statement and so that the reader would know what kind of filmmaker/storyteller you want to become.

I'm by no means an expert on personal statements, so don't take my work as final gospel lol. I think it would be great if others could chime in too!
Thanks for the feedback. I was thinking that I need to explain the types of films I want to make. Did you see any part of the essay I could cut out to make room? Basically any part you found boring or unnecessary.
 

addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
Sorry I didn't get back sooner, I meant too but life got in the way lol!

I feel like you could always cut out some of the details you put in on what happened that day you found out you won but didn't get the money. There are some good stuff there but I feel like you could cut some of it out and expand the other sections--such as that bit where you drew comic books (what kind?). I think the main point is that setbacks never discouraged you from telling stories, and I think you can tell it in less words.

Also, I think it would be wise to see how USC can personally help you become the storyteller you want to become. Sure, everyone wants to go to film school to be a great storyteller--but what does it mean to be a great storyteller and how do these life experiences reinforce that idea or help you on that path? How did they make you stray from the path if it did?
 

BigSpeaker12

Member
Supporting Member
Sorry I didn't get back sooner, I meant too but life got in the way lol!

I feel like you could always cut out some of the details you put in on what happened that day you found out you won but didn't get the money. There are some good stuff there but I feel like you could cut some of it out and expand the other sections--such as that bit where you drew comic books (what kind?). I think the main point is that setbacks never discouraged you from telling stories, and I think you can tell it in less words.

Also, I think it would be wise to see how USC can personally help you become the storyteller you want to become. Sure, everyone wants to go to film school to be a great storyteller--but what does it mean to be a great storyteller and how do these life experiences reinforce that idea or help you on that path? How did they make you stray from the path if it did?
ok that makes sense, i'll work on it this weekend. I see that you go to usc now. Could you tell me what it's like?
 

addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
I'm still starting on Fall 2020 so I haven't started yet! Hopefully I get to in spite of the pandemic.
 

BigSpeaker12

Member
Supporting Member
I'm still starting on Fall 2020 so I haven't started yet! Hopefully I get to in spite of the pandemic.
what did you base your personal statement on? Also, can I send you my latest draft? it should be done in a day or two
 

addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
Sure, send me your latest draft whenever! I'm still under lockdown so I still have a lot of free time

Also, I put my personal statement on my application if you're interested to see how I went about it. But the gist of it is that I based it on an experience I had when I was in first grade and how it helped me recognize the realities of my town and my dreams.
 

BigSpeaker12

Member
Supporting Member
Sure, send me your latest draft whenever! I'm still under lockdown so I still have a lot of free time

Also, I put my personal statement on my application if you're interested to see how I went about it. But the gist of it is that I based it on an experience I had when I was in first grade and how it helped me recognize the realities of my town and my dreams.
Hey, here's my latest draft. It's currently 49 words over 1,000 but I think it's my strongest draft yet.
 

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Tammy

New Member
do they still accept student on spring 2021? Cuz usually they should open the application on June 20th, but today I checked and they haven't opened yet.
 

xaviserrano

New Member
Hey, here's my latest draft. It's currently 49 words over 1,000 but I think it's my strongest draft yet.
Hi there. I read your personal statement.
Take my humble opinion with a grain of salt (it's below). I got rejected from AFI last year, so who the hell am I to pass judgment, right? I honestly find personal essays to be somewhat ridiculous for what we're trying to do. They are not a good gauge of whether or not you'll be a promising filmmaker. But hey, it's a hoop we have to jump through...

3 good things:
-Good intro paragraph. You hooked me.
-The essay makes sense. No major holes. You sound like an intelligent and capable person.
-You do a good job at telling the anecdote.

3 things to think about:

-Perhaps you're spending too much time on the anecdote. In fact, I would scrap it and choose something that is more personal, more unique.

-By the end of the essay, I didn't feel like I understood who you are as a person or as an artist. What is your angle, what are some of your ideas, what makes you so unique (everyone is)? Make me remember you.

-Revisit those last two paragraphs; they read a bit general and almost lazy (no offense). You can do better. It's super tricky not sounding cliché in the concluding paragraph (I was def guilty of it when I wrote my AFI essay, hence the rejection). You write, "I believe the creative community at USC will provide a space for me where I can work with like-minded individuals that will help push my films in an emotional, technical, and personal direction." Selection committees read that type of conclusion essay after essay after essay. What you're saying may be heartfelt and true, but it sounds worn out.

If I had to give you my honest opinion (which is something this world doesn't do too much of when it really counts), I would not put your essay in the accepted pile. I know that sounds harsh, but I say it because I think you can do better. You're smart and capable. You're an artist. Use that artistic touch to blow my mind with your words.
 

BigSpeaker12

Member
Supporting Member
Hi there. I read your personal statement.
Take my humble opinion with a grain of salt (it's below). I got rejected from AFI last year, so who the hell am I to pass judgment, right? I honestly find personal essays to be somewhat ridiculous for what we're trying to do. They are not a good gauge of whether or not you'll be a promising filmmaker. But hey, it's a hoop we have to jump through...

3 good things:
-Good intro paragraph. You hooked me.
-The essay makes sense. No major holes. You sound like an intelligent and capable person.
-You do a good job at telling the anecdote.

3 things to think about:

-Perhaps you're spending too much time on the anecdote. In fact, I would scrap it and choose something that is more personal, more unique.

-By the end of the essay, I didn't feel like I understood who you are as a person or as an artist. What is your angle, what are some of your ideas, what makes you so unique (everyone is)? Make me remember you.

-Revisit those last two paragraphs; they read a bit general and almost lazy (no offense). You can do better. It's super tricky not sounding cliché in the concluding paragraph (I was def guilty of it when I wrote my AFI essay, hence the rejection). You write, "I believe the creative community at USC will provide a space for me where I can work with like-minded individuals that will help push my films in an emotional, technical, and personal direction." Selection committees read that type of conclusion essay after essay after essay. What you're saying may be heartfelt and true, but it sounds worn out.

If I had to give you my honest opinion (which is something this world doesn't do too much of when it really counts), I would not put your essay in the accepted pile. I know that sounds harsh, but I say it because I think you can do better. You're smart and capable. You're an artist. Use that artistic touch to blow my mind with your words.
Thank you. Your review is pretty helpful. I definitely agree that the last paragraph is pretty weak and my personality isn't too clear (which is the whole point lol). I don't want to start over just yet, I'll give this version another go and see how it turns out first.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
I honestly find personal essays to be somewhat ridiculous for what we're trying to do. They are not a good gauge of whether or not you'll be a promising filmmaker.
Well this isn't true at all. It's a great way to showcase yourself as a storyteller. And really that's all that filmmaking is.

I highly recommend reading our interview with USC admissions if you haven't already:

How to get Into USC Film School: An Interview With an SCA Admissions Committee Member

How to get Into USC Film School: An Interview With an SCA Admissions Committee Member

Considered by many to be the best film school in the world, it’s no wonder why the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) is so sought after by prospective undergraduate and graduate students alike. However, the film school’s prestige can often make the application process particularly stressful and...

There are some GREAT tips and feedback in there.
 

xaviserrano

New Member
Well this isn't true at all. It's a great way to showcase yourself as a storyteller. And really that's all that filmmaking is.
So you're telling me the quality of my MFA admissions essay is an accurate indicator of just how much potential I hold as a filmmaker?

With all due respect, this is perhaps one of the reasons why MFA film programs have an atrocious batting record at producing employed film directors: They focus on admissions essays.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
MFA admissions essay is an accurate indicator of just how much potential I hold as a filmmaker?
Yes... Successful admissions essays are essentially well crafted stories.

And as a filmmaker you are a storyteller. So...a well crafted story in your personal statement can give insight as to how good a storyteller and therefore a filmmaker you have the potential to be.

Please read the USC admissions interview and you'll see what I mean.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
That being said it's not the end all be all. But admissions committees put a lot of weight into the personal statement. It's a chance to show your storytelling chops and to let them know who you are.
 

xaviserrano

New Member
I read the USC admissions interview. It's a great read, truly. Thanks for that.

And I get what you mean about injecting storytelling into the essay. It makes sense. However, I still philosophically disagree on the importance the admissions essay should play into the equation.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
And I get what you mean about injecting storytelling into the essay. It makes sense. However, I still philosophically disagree on the importance the admissions essay should play into the equation.
That may be so... but it's what admissions committees are looking for. 🤷‍♂️

Any tips on how to write a good personal statement?

First of all: show not tell. Show me in a visual way. I don't mean writing a bunch of flowery words to describe something. I mean, paint the scene for us. For example, and this is a bad example, but somebody might write, “When I was a kid, I was a loner.” What we're looking for is somebody who instead would write, “when I was a kid, I walked 20 feet behind everybody else.” Right? Because now I can visualize that scene and it means so much more than just the adjective “loner”.

Also, write like you talk. We want your personality to shine through. When I'm reading a statement, I'm not so much judging the technical display of the statement as I'm trying to imagine who the person that wrote it is. If I finish it and have an incredible idea of who you are as a person, I’ll probably want to meet you. I'll probably be interested in you because you can paint a character well and I've started to bond with you, even though I haven't met you.

If you're just very formal and write a good paper, I don't know who you are. I want to know who you are. By the way, a way to show who you are: have opinions on things. Like, strong opinions. I don't care if I agree with them or not. Present them. Again, show, not tell.

Finally, and I think this is the big, big, big one that people have a hard time with. Entertain me. And I don't mean in the sense of, like, making an Avengers movie or the sense of making me laugh. I just took 30 minutes of my life (at least) to look through your stuff. That 30 minutes is 30 minutes that I'll never get back. So, in that time, give me something that makes me say, “I'm glad I read that.” And, again, it's usually not about why you want to go to film school. It's usually not why you love films. It's about opening my eyes to your world, which I guarantee you is a world. Teach me something about your world, expand my universe, expand my horizon, show it to me in a way that I never thought of, and then you'll have me. I don't care if it's about your dog or the genocide you witnessed as a child. If you can do that, if you can frame the world in an interesting new way, then I'll be with you.
How to get Into USC Film School: An Interview With an SCA Admissions Committee Member

How to get Into USC Film School: An Interview With an SCA Admissions Committee Member

Considered by many to be the best film school in the world, it’s no wonder why the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) is so sought after by prospective undergraduate and graduate students alike. However, the film school’s prestige can often make the application process particularly stressful and...
 

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