NYU Grad Film vs. UCLA Production/Directing

Buusey

Member
NYU
UCLA
Hey all, I'm in the process of choosing between NYU Grad Film and UCLA Production/Directing. I've decided to list a few pros/cons off the top of my head. Probably a few things I'm missing but overall, it's one of those situations where my head says UCLA but my heart says NYU. Or maybe not, I don't know. This may come down to a coin flip.

Pros of NYU:
  • Has been my dream school for quite some time
  • Didn't think they'd give any money, but they gave me about half tuition (which I've heard is about average for most first-year grad students) / guaranteed money is more than guaranteed money from UCLA
  • Reputation/alumni and its historical support for different types of filmmakers/independent film
  • Better facilities/equipment
  • Heavy focus on discipline/craft (can be a con too)
  • Closer to home (Baltimore); I'll have to leave my dog back home with my sister :(
  • On the semester system, so I could have more time visiting home between semesters
  • I like NYC more than LA (I like seasons/more friends/as a single, cis male who will be turning 30 during grad school, I'm hoping to settle down one day and the dating scene is less frustrating I've heard?/I feel like the face-paced anxiety matches my personality more)
  • I felt a closer sense of kinship with the students that give me a tour there
Pros of UCLA:
  • Cheaper, have a chance for a full ride fellowship (need to reapply year after year though and not guaranteed); in-state tuition after first year
  • Diverse landscapes (two films I'm thinking of doing take place in the desert/snowy landscapes-- though I think the snow part can be accomplished near NYC)
  • Comprehensive approach to the program (theory/history courses)
  • More opportunities for internships/closer to the heart of the American film industry (though I think I'd be okay working in another field and solely working on my own stuff on the side if what I do during graduate school doesn't lead to anything)
  • More freedom in the types of films you're making in the first two years
  • The weather IS really nice...but almost too nice, if that makes sense
  • The housing search seems better than in NYC and you get more space
Cons of NYU:
  • Price
  • Have lived on the East Coast USA for most of my life so a move might be inspiring/motivating?
  • I understand the disciplinarian approach to filmmaking but to be honest, I'm a bit intimidated by the restrictions (silent film, documentary subject, time limits) and also, I feel like I have several film ideas I'd like to do that could better serve what I want to do with my thesis at UCLA than NYU
  • Less living space, in case I do want to bring my dog with me when I have more freedom in my schedule
  • Several students I've talked to mentioned that the NYU Grad Film feels "cliquey" like high school...I'm too old for that
  • The first year films are essentially exercises so it's not worth spending too much on them, especially if you're saving for your second/third year films. I think you're actually confined to NYC for the first film too.
  • Grocery shopping in NYC looks inconvenient/I like the LA food scene more now
Cons of UCLA:
  • Fellowship not guaranteed, not sure chances. Only $5,000 guaranteed
  • I think there's less thesis funding? Not positive
  • Spite (they bungled my first shot at them and it was only after my third shot that I got in...can't help it!)
  • Can be a pro or con but the smaller class sizes (18-20 vs 36 at NYU) means more focus on the individual, but less options for collaborating with different folks who may be an exact fit for what you're looking for in a collaborator
  • The move would be a lot more expensive and I think having a car would make living generally more expensive in LA?
  • Not sure how I feel about the quarter system
  • More dated facilities, but I think there's an ethos attached to going to a public school
 
Last edited:

Cdemon

Active Member
AFI
NYU
I can’t help you a ton with the school part of these equations but I lived in NYC for just over 6 months and have been in LA much longer- LA is definitely cheaper even with the car. You gotta add in subways- this also takes into account the fact that I’m down for roommates in the apt- but I’m not down for a roommate literally in my room. NYC is expensive!
If you do live in NYC look for a good local laundromat, and do all your grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s- ok feel free to branch out for fun- but TJ’s has national pricing which means it’s drastically- for reals- cheaper than any other grocery store I found in nyc.
If you consider Jersey- as lots do- make sure you factor in that the Path and the Jersey Light Rail are not the same lines so you have to pay separately for them (or live off the path but the path housing is more expensive- I stayed in Jersey for a month recently and the path/light rail thing drove me nuts.) the path does let off right near Tisch’s main campus at Washington square though so then you *may not need an unlimited subway card- but I’d say you will eventually.)
East Harlem has some good prices for apts. and the further north you go the cheaper it gets. Also- check into the L shutdown. I think it’s supposed to open back up this year, but that could greatly impact commute and where you want to live.
LA- west side is awesome, but get a cheap car and live in the valley and you’ll save a lot of money. You will want a car though, that’s def true- well some do it with Uber/Lyft but with a full schedule and eventually filming, I don’t think it’s be worth it.
Both schools sounds great though! Good luck!
 

Asya

New Member
Hey all, I'm in the process of choosing between NYU Grad Film and UCLA Production/Directing. I've decided to list a few pros/cons off the top of my head. Probably a few things I'm missing but overall, it's one of those situations where my head says UCLA but my heart says NYU. Or maybe not, I don't know. This may come down to a coin flip.

Pros of NYU:
  • Has been my dream school for quite some time
  • Didn't think they'd give any money, but they gave me about half tuition (which I've heard is about average for most first-year grad students) / guaranteed money is more than guaranteed money from UCLA
  • Reputation/alumni and its historical support for different types of filmmakers/independent film
  • Better facilities/equipment
  • Heavy focus on discipline/craft (can be a con too)
  • Closer to home (Baltimore); I'll have to leave my dog back home with my sister :(
  • On the semester system, so I could have more time visiting home between semesters
  • I like NYC more than LA (I like seasons/more friends/as a single, cis male who will be turning 30 during grad school, I'm hoping to settle down one day and the dating scene is less frustrating I've heard?/I feel like the face-paced anxiety matches my personality more)
  • I felt a closer sense of kinship with the students that give me a tour there
Pros of UCLA:
  • Cheaper, have a chance for a full ride fellowship (need to reapply year after year though and not guaranteed); in-state tuition after first year
  • Diverse landscapes (two films I'm thinking of doing take place in the desert/snowy landscapes-- though I think the snow part can be accomplished near NYC)
  • Comprehensive approach to the program (theory/history courses)
  • More opportunities for internships/closer to the heart of the American film industry (though I think I'd be okay working in another field and solely working on my own stuff on the side if what I do during graduate school doesn't lead to anything)
  • More freedom in the types of films you're making in the first two years
  • The weather IS really nice...but almost too nice, if that makes sense
  • The housing search seems better than in NYC and you get more space
Cons of NYU:
  • Price
  • Have lived on the East Coast USA for most of my life so a move might be inspiring/motivating?
  • I understand the disciplinarian approach to filmmaking but to be honest, I'm a bit intimidated by the restrictions (silent film, documentary subject, time limits) and also, I feel like I have several film ideas I'd like to do that could better serve what I want to do with my thesis at UCLA than NYU
  • Less living space, in case I do want to bring my dog with me when I have more freedom in my schedule
  • Several students I've talked to mentioned that the NYU Grad Film feels "cliquey" like high school...I'm too old for that
  • The first year films are essentially exercises so it's not worth spending too much on them, especially if you're saving for your second/third year films. I think you're actually confined to NYC for the first film too.
  • Grocery shopping in NYC looks inconvenient/I like the LA food scene more now
Cons of UCLA:
  • Fellowship not guaranteed, not sure chances. Only $5,000 guaranteed
  • I think there's less thesis funding? Not positive
  • Spite (they bungled my first shot at them and it was only after my third shot that I got in...can't help it!)
  • Can be a pro or con but the smaller class sizes (18-20 vs 36 at NYU) means more focus on the individual, but less options for collaborating with different folks who may be an exact fit for what you're looking for in a collaborator
  • The move would be a lot more expensive and I think having a car would make living generally more expensive in LA?
  • Not sure how I feel about the quarter system
  • More dated facilities, but I think there's an ethos attached to going to a public school
I personally think UCLA fits your profile way more... I think there's something just more mature about UCLA than NYU (in terms of students attending). On top of that you get to live in such a beautiful place (mountain and sea) rather than the eternal chaos of NY.. especially if you're thinking of staying in the same place after you graduate...
 

Buusey

Member
NYU
UCLA
I personally think UCLA fits your profile way more... I think there's something just more mature about UCLA than NYU (in terms of students attending). On top of that you get to live in such a beautiful place (mountain and sea) rather than the eternal chaos of NY.. especially if you're thinking of staying in the same place after you graduate...
I actually like the chaos of nyc more than LA. Not a fan of how laid back it is. I do wonder what the average age of UCLA is compared to NYU though
 
Last edited:

Buusey

Member
NYU
UCLA
I can’t help you a ton with the school part of these equations but I lived in NYC for just over 6 months and have been in LA much longer- LA is definitely cheaper even with the car. You gotta add in subways- this also takes into account the fact that I’m down for roommates in the apt- but I’m not down for a roommate literally in my room. NYC is expensive!
If you do live in NYC look for a good local laundromat, and do all your grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s- ok feel free to branch out for fun- but TJ’s has national pricing which means it’s drastically- for reals- cheaper than any other grocery store I found in nyc.
If you consider Jersey- as lots do- make sure you factor in that the Path and the Jersey Light Rail are not the same lines so you have to pay separately for them (or live off the path but the path housing is more expensive- I stayed in Jersey for a month recently and the path/light rail thing drove me nuts.) the path does let off right near Tisch’s main campus at Washington square though so then you *may not need an unlimited subway card- but I’d say you will eventually.)
East Harlem has some good prices for apts. and the further north you go the cheaper it gets. Also- check into the L shutdown. I think it’s supposed to open back up this year, but that could greatly impact commute and where you want to live.
LA- west side is awesome, but get a cheap car and live in the valley and you’ll save a lot of money. You will want a car though, that’s def true- well some do it with Uber/Lyft but with a full schedule and eventually filming, I don’t think it’s be worth it.
Both schools sounds great though! Good luck!
Thanks for the tips, especially the bit about trader joe’s...never knew that it was nationally priced. Can’t wait for the hellhole that is deciding where to live in NY! Though I may do Jersey now that you and a few people I’ve talked to have mentioned it...
 

zenflowers

Member
NYU
For perspective on housing in NYC: I live in Brookyn (Bedstuy) and my rent is currently $800 with (3) roommates (we all have our own pretty decently sized rooms (it's pretty normal in this part of Brooklyn). I absolutely love the neighborhood!

Subways with a monthly unlimited card are $120 (not too bad but not great). My daily commute into the city is around 35-40 mins, I've honestly been doing it so long now that it just seems normal (I managed to read 100 books last year with the support of my commute).

* Also, the L train never shut down so that wouldn't be a problem.
 

KIOKIOKIO

New Member
For perspective on housing in NYC: I live in Brookyn (Bedstuy) and my rent is currently $800 with (3) roommates (we all have our own pretty decently sized rooms (it's pretty normal in this part of Brooklyn). I absolutely love the neighborhood!

Subways with a monthly unlimited card are $120 (not too bad but not great). My daily commute into the city is around 35-40 mins, I've honestly been doing it so long now that it just seems normal (I managed to read 100 books last year with the support of my commute).

* Also, the L train never shut down so that wouldn't be a problem.
Hi, have you decided to attend NYU this summer? I got the acceptance too and I'm pretty sure that I'll go to NYU this summer. Can I ask you questions about the housing in NYC?
 

Cdemon

Active Member
AFI
NYU
It’s great that the L never shut down. That was going to be such a cluster! Honestly with that not shutdown, I’d look in Brooklyn and that area over jersey for sure. You still might do better in Jersey particularly if you want your own studio, but the L was my only reservation about that area. So much to do there- really anywhere in the Burroughs.
Have fun!
 

FirstTimer

Member
UCLA
I'm at UCLA for screenwriting so I won't pretend I have any expertise on the production/directing programs, but I did move here from NYC, and I'll say that from your original post, it sounds (to me at least) like your gut is saying NYU. If you've always wanted to live in the city and now have an excuse to do so, go for it. You can always move to LA afterwards (if you need/want to). To a few of your points, though: 1) I've literally never heard anyone say that dating in NYC is anything but horrific (caveat I'm a gay dude) 2) from what I understand the 1st year UCLA films also seem like exercises? and 3) I think UCLA directing also leans indie; it's USC that feels more commercial from what I understand.

Ultimately you can't go wrong with either, so good luck!
 

Buusey

Member
NYU
UCLA
Well, I already put my deposit down for NYU and declined UCLA twice but today they gave me the full ride scholarship+stipend. This is crazy. It’d be a difference of about $100k in debt. I have no idea what to do other than literally flipping a coin at this point.
 

Cdemon

Active Member
AFI
NYU
I’d look at where you want to be after school and consider what NYU gave you. If you want to be in LA after graduation, AND they gave you a full ride- imho I’d go to UCLA- or at least seriously consider it. Spend the money to visit campus to be sure if you need/want/can- but that’s hard to pass up. If you want to be in NYC after graduation I think consider NYU more, but still full ride.
Best of luck!
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
Well, I already put my deposit down for NYU and declined UCLA twice but today they gave me the full ride scholarship+stipend. This is crazy. It’d be a difference of about $100k in debt. I have no idea what to do other than literally flipping a coin at this point.
Wait did you get a full ride to both?
 

Buusey

Member
NYU
UCLA
NYU increased my scholarship from 1/2 to 2/3 tuition and UCLA gave the full ride plus a 20k stipend for rent/other costs. It’s tricky because I do want to live in NYC now because all my connections/friends are there but do want to move to LA probably after graduation but only for personal reasons/having lived in the east coast for most of my life. When I visited UCLA, it just felt kind of off and regressive since the facilities/equipment aren’t as nice and the vibe I got from NYU students felt a lot more of a fit with my personality. Everything pulls me to NYU except essentially the money.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
NYU increased my scholarship from 1/2 to 2/3 tuition and UCLA gave the full ride plus a 20k stipend for rent/other costs. It’s tricky because I do want to live in NYC now because all my connections/friends are there but do want to move to LA probably after graduation but only for personal reasons/having lived in the east coast for most of my life. When I visited UCLA, it just felt kind of off and regressive since the facilities/equipment aren’t as nice and the vibe I got from NYU students felt a lot more of a fit with my personality. Everything pulls me to NYU except essentially the money.
Those are both very good offers. If you're going to end up in LA then that offer is pretty freaking amazing from UCLA.

I'm very debt adverse so if someone was offering me a $100k then that'd be a deal hard to pass up.

But I can also understand wanting to stay in NYC.

Have you done an extensive pro con list?
 

Buusey

Member
NYU
UCLA
Those are both very good offers. If you're going to end up in LA then that offer is pretty freaking amazing from UCLA.

I'm very debt adverse so if someone was offering me a $100k then that'd be a deal hard to pass up.

But I can also understand wanting to stay in NYC.

Have you done an extensive pro con list?
Other than the pros/cons list I made in my first message of this thread, not too much new has been added other than that the guaranteed amounts have changed. The volume of pros/cons for each school is about equal but I feel stronger about the pros for NYU? But again, a $100k difference is still substantial. But then again, I was willing to go $300k into debt at one point for NYU since I didn’t think I’d get any money at all and saw school loans as a tax to be able to do something I love (I’ll always have some source of income since Ive worked for several years in a different field and have a solid portfolio there). I reached out to NYU again but I’m sure everyone is asking for more aid now and I’ve already submitted my deposit so I’m not sure how much leverage I have...
 

Septopus7

Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member+
AFI
USC
Well, I already put my deposit down for NYU and declined UCLA twice but today they gave me the full ride scholarship+stipend. This is crazy. It’d be a difference of about $100k in debt. I have no idea what to do other than literally flipping a coin at this point.
Wait, they offered you that scholarship AFTER you denied them? TWICE, even? Wow, that feels like quite the rarity, and it really must mean UCLA wants you, to do such a thing. I'd take the plunge if I were you, but NYU with funding isn't such a bad choice either. In any case, good luck coming to a decision! Either way, you know that you have extreme potential as an applicant, to be offered such opportunities. And that's a pretty major deal.
 

Buusey

Member
NYU
UCLA
Wait, they offered you that scholarship AFTER you denied them? TWICE, even? Wow, that feels like quite the rarity, and it really must mean UCLA wants you, to do such a thing. I'd take the plunge if I were you, but NYU with funding isn't such a bad choice either. In any case, good luck coming to a decision! Either way, you know that you have extreme potential as an applicant, to be offered such opportunities. And that's a pretty major deal.
Thanks! I was following your journey with AFI/USC so I can kind of see how you were in a similar boat as me haha. I think geographic distance and the fact that NYU has been relatively communicative with me and offered a hefty chunk of change makes that option at least somewhat on the same level in my mind. Glad to see you're happy with the AFI decision!
 

Septopus7

Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member+
AFI
USC
Thanks! I was following your journey with AFI/USC so I can kind of see how you were in a similar boat as me haha. I think geographic distance and the fact that NYU has been relatively communicative with me and offered a hefty chunk of change makes that option at least somewhat on the same level in my mind. Glad to see you're happy with the AFI decision!
Honestly, I'm just happy not to be in a state of constant doubt anymore -- I made my choice, and now I can move forward based on that. Which is why, though I empathize with the ordeal at large, I don't envy your exact situation -- you already made a decision, and then UCLA had to come in and alter the deal like a west coast Darth Vadar. Very nice, but also very cruel. Oh so very cruel.

And my choice was pretty easy, at the end of the day: go to the place I really, REALLY wanted to attend that I would have to shell out $100k for, or go to the place I also really wanted to attend, for the price tag of absolutely free. The fact that you got some funding for both complicates things. If USC had offered me even a portion of my tuition, I'm not entirely sure I would have made the same decision I ended up making. But that's a moot point for me.

Anyways, how long do you have to decide? When's the deadline for UCLA?
 

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