How do graduate programs feel about comedic shorts?


New Member
Hi everyone!
So I'm beginning the film school process this spring, and naturally I'm getting critical of my portfolio. In particular, there is a mockumentary I directed that I'm curious how admissions officers will take. Nothing too explicit but there are a number of swear words (I also have a PG cut where I censor/bleep everything). Any experience on how they take it? It's pretty entertaining but I'm interested to see if anyone has submitted a film along those lines.


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Cody Young

Tattoo/Film Enthusiast
Supporting Member
Hey there, I can’t speak for all admissions officers and can only offer insight into my experience so far as a Screenwriting applicant.

In my application process, 5 of the 9 applications had some form of comedic sample as one of my crestive supplements. Of those 5, I was accepted into one program and I have had interviews with two others. The other two I haven’t heard back from yet (fingers crossed for USC 😟)

In the interview I had with AFI the faculty member I spoke with, Michael Urban, said how refreshing it was to read a comedic piece for my writing prompt sample as it showed I had range separate from the horror samples I wrote.

The other interview I haven’t had yet, but I imagine something in my application caused them to select me, whether it was my my comedic voice, remains to be seen.

Granted, I’m just a writer and not a director like yourself, but I guess my thoughts on the matter should be to demonstrate you have a unique voice, and to perhaps show you have range in your works. I wouldn’t worry about trying to censor yourself, if you have to do that in a creative environment then I’m not sure you would want to be apart of that academic program anyways.

Also, in my opinion, comedy can be one of the hardest genres to get right, if you can demonstrate an aptitude in that field, I’m sure many programs would love to have you.

Best of luck :)

Chris W

As You Wish
Staff member
Also, in my opinion, comedy can be one of the hardest genres to get right, if you can demonstrate an aptitude in that field, I’m sure many programs would love to have you.
As an editor comedy is one of my favorite things to do. Love making comedic moments out of footage.

Not everyone can do it that's for sure.


New Member
Thanks guys. Yes, comedy has alot to do with editing. I think if you know the kind of comedy you like, it will come natural. But it can certainly be challenging


Active Member
Supporting Member
Exactly what @Cody Young said.
Do what you're interested in.
Programs are looking for strong and distinct voices, but some programs favor different areas of the industry over others - they each have a personality. Look at thesis projects, Student Academy Award nominations and winners, and any big names that have come from schools you're applying to gauge what the personality of them is like.


I think if it's done well, it's fair game! I can only speak for USC but the program does have a comedy directing track so I think they are quite open to it. I submitted a comedy for my application there (which involved a lot of f bombs and sticking my middle fingers up frequently) and my interviewer liked it. I imagine people in admissions just want to see a good story that is told well, no matter the genre.


Staff member
Supporting Member
My USC portfolio featured mainly comedy (although the first ten pages was more dramedy as an entire project, what I submitted definetly leaned more towards comedy for the start.) The elevator five pages was nearly straight farce, though. At the end of the day, a good story is a good story. And when crafting an application, the end goal is to be noticed. And to be remembered. And no one remembers something more than a good joke.

That being said, the other five pages in my USC portfolio was something dramatic, which I personally would recommend. If you have the chance to have multiple samples, try to make at least one different from the rest, just to show your range as a storyteller.

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