Hi! I’m just weighing in here with my 2 cents. I’m currently a first year in the graduate MFA program at USC.
1) Have confidence and don’t sell yourself short! The question is not “do I have a chance?” (because everyone has a chance - at least in theory even the top film schools take people with no filmmaking experience and if you’re applying to the undergrad program I would say that’s doubly so) - but rather “what can I tell, or even better, show, the admissions committee that demonstrates something unique about me”?
2) In keeping with the above, make sure you knock your written personal statement out of the park.
3) Don’t try to “impress” anyone with your visual sample. Unless you’re already a filmmaking prodigy, there’s almost definitely some other applicant(s) submitting stuff that will look much more “stunning” than what you submit. Instead, pick a story or narrative that has a clear beginning, middle and end, and that somehow speaks to you personally. In this sense, you should see it as a complement to the personal statement.
4) Just as what you write should not be long winded, also in your visual sample, get to the point quickly. (that’s one critique I have of the video in the post. You may want to edit it down.). There’s a reason there’s a five minute limit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the committee stops watching after 30 seconds if what you put out there isn’t that interesting or compelling, so use your time wisely and “hook” your audience quickly.
5) Lastly, try to convey the sense that you would be someone who would be fun and enjoyable to be in class with and to collaborate with on films. Don’t get me wrong. USC definitely does take broody artists, but even then there’s some spark to their broodiness, if that makes sense.
That’s about it. And definitely take my advice with a grain of salt. I’m someone who got in on my third try, and only off the waitlist, so maybe I do not know what I’m talking about. “Buyer Beware” lol but those are my two cents.