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How to choose between NYU Tisch and CalArts for MFA scene design?

Chiya

New Member
I recently got admitted to NYU Tisch (design for stage and film - MFA) and CalArts (scenic design - MFA). I have been working as an asst. Production designer in commercial indian cinema since the past 1 year. And I aim to pursue that. I have a good scholarship package from both schools so the cost is coming down to be the same. CalArts's course structure is more open ended while NYU is more specialised. L.A is where the film industry is and that is a plus point while New York has a strong indie scene going but I want to be on commercial film projects. CalArts provides internships which are cedited, while NYU does not have an option for an internship, instead we collaborate with Tisch graduate film students making various films and we also collaborate with Columbia film students to make a film....but I don't know how will that help me make the contacts I need to make to get into the big budget projects in Hollywood . What would you suggest ? I am freaking out !!
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
It you want to end up in Los Angeles then maybe calarts? It'll put you in CA and give you internships? Internships are a great way to get contacts and real world experience.

NYU is a good school however but it sounds like NYU is also for theatre from the major name.

When do you need to decide?
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
NYU is a good school however but it sounds like NYU is also for theatre from the major name.
Actually nevermind looking more at the majors more (sorry wasn't too familiar with production design) it seems like NYU's program is more film based so that might be the better option.

Also I'd reach out to production design applicants from previous years for advice too.

Also in regards to internships you can always search those out yourself independent of the school. I did that when I was at BU.
 

Chiya

New Member
How is the film industry in New York as compared to L.A ? How difficult would relocating from NYC to L.A be 3 years down the line when i graduate ? Thanks a lot for your reply ... helps a lot
 

Chiya

New Member
It you want to end up in Los Angeles then maybe calarts? It'll put you in CA and give you internships? Internships are a great way to get contacts and real world experience.

NYU is a good school however but it sounds like NYU is also for theatre from the major name.

When do you need to decide?
Hey Chris,
Thanks a lot for reaching out. I kind of need to decide ASAP. I am in a tricky position. I am an international student coming in from India. I have been working as an asst. production designer since a year and want to pursue education in the same. NYU's classes are in person and starting on 2nd September. Until day before I thought I will not be able to pursue Tisch, surprisingly my emergency visa got approved for Tisch yesterday. NYU is giving me a 70% scholarship and it is a three year long course. The course is very film focussed and traditional in structure. Taking up minors are not really encouraged, however we can choose electives in second year. Instead of internships, they have film collaborations with Tisch graduate film students and Columbia graduate film students. Moreover, my classmates in NYU are graduates from Yale or Columbia and people have worked in the industry and are now pursuing their education further. SO I feel like I will get to learn a lot from peers like these.
CalArts is having the entire fall semester online. They have given me a 65% scholarship. I will need to re-apply for a student visa if I choose to go ahead with CalArts, and reapplying visa is risky business specially in these times. It is a 3 year long course. The course is more theatre focused in the first two years and slightly film focused in the third year. However, I have the option to choose electives from 1st sem itself and by taking film based courses I can sort of personalise my course. Taking other minors is highly encouraged at CalArts. It is a very open ended course and can be personalised. For example along with my mandatory courses I can take a course in film producing or script reading. We have internships for which we can get upto 6 credits. But most of my seniors generally pursued theatre design instead of production design in internships. My classmates are all international students who have just graduated and have directly come for further education, so I don't really know, comparatively, how much can I extract out of it.
I am very very confused and my time is really ticking out. I will also have the issue of obtaining work visas and union cards which can be difficult as international student. Since NYU's course is so film focussed, I kind of like it, however, CalArts provides me with internship opportunity in L.A. I am also considering my classmates that I am studying with, and NYU wins in that area. I am currently enrolled in both schools, so I will have to say no to one of them, that too so close to the semester start date, so I am freaking out about that as well. I am basically just freaking out and running around like a headless chicken. Any help is appreciated.
Sorry
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
How difficult would relocating from NYC to L.A be 3 years down the line when i graduate ?
When I moved to LA from Boston University I just threw everything in my car and drove without a job lined up. 🤷‍♂️ Where there's a will there's a way. :)
 

Chiya

New Member
When I moved to LA from Boston University I just threw everything in my car and drove without a job lined up. 🤷‍♂️ Where there's a will there's a way. :)
Haha ... That is true indeed ... Thanks a lot ... You really put me out my misery. !! Have a great day ahead :)
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
NYU's classes are in person and starting on 2nd September. Until day before I thought I will not be able to pursue Tisch, surprisingly my emergency visa got approved for Tisch yesterday. NYU is giving me a 70% scholarship and it is a three year long course.

That's a good scholarship!

I will need to re-apply for a student visa if I choose to go ahead with CalArts, and reapplying visa is risky business specially in these times. It is a 3 year long course. The course is more theatre focused in the first two years and slightly film focused in the third year.

Reapplying for a visa could be hard now with all the changes going on. That's another big point for NYU.

Since NYU's course is so film focussed, I kind of like it, however, CalArts provides me with internship opportunity in L.A.

You can easily give yourself your own internship opportunities. I had many internships while I was in school and none of them were provided by the school. I just hustled and applied everywhere for during the summer. Where there's a will there's a way.
 

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