antbear

Member
Hello! I am preparing my applications for screenwriting MFA programs for Fall 2015, and I wanted to see if anyone can help me out here...
-I am considering applying to:
USC, UCLA, FSU, UT at Austin, NYU, Columbia, Chapman, Northwestern, and SCAD.
-Any insider info on any of these schools?
I'm located in Tampa, FL, so FSU is tempting in that regard (plus the semester in London).
I'm interested in playwriting and screenwriting, so Northwestern and NYU are appealing... and I like how Columbia's program is for the director/writer, which is what I consider myself, although more of a writer (thus the screenwriting MFA).
-But it's hard to narrow down the list...
If anyone else is applying to any of these schools I'd like to chat about applications or whatever.
Thanks!
 

itsarjun

Member
Hello! I am preparing my applications for screenwriting MFA programs for Fall 2015, and I wanted to see if anyone can help me out here...
-I am considering applying to:
USC, UCLA, FSU, UT at Austin, NYU, Columbia, Chapman, Northwestern, and SCAD.
-Any insider info on any of these schools?
I'm located in Tampa, FL, so FSU is tempting in that regard (plus the semester in London).
I'm interested in playwriting and screenwriting, so Northwestern and NYU are appealing... and I like how Columbia's program is for the director/writer, which is what I consider myself, although more of a writer (thus the screenwriting MFA).
-But it's hard to narrow down the list...
If anyone else is applying to any of these schools I'd like to chat about applications or whatever.
Thanks!



Hi,

I'll be applying to USC,NYU,FSU,AFI,SVA. I'm also looking at some other schools in Europe & Canada.Some of them are really good, but few schools have a test about their country specific film industry & heritage. I'm planning to do MFA in Film production(or a program closely related to it).I have done quite a bit of research about NYU & USC,but i have to narrow down my list too. Let's have a chat about these schools!
 

antbear

Member
Great! From what I've heard about FSU, their films are really slick in production but the narratives are very Hollywood style, so if you're into more indie style storytelling then that would be something to consider. What schools in Europe and Canada are you looking at? It's tricky because USC is first class in alumni connections, but I've also heard they don't have any scholarships for MFA students, and the tuition price is sort of insane. Maybe this is inaccurate? What's your undergrad degree in/filmmaking background like? I'm interesting in why other people consider an MFA to be the next step.
 

itsarjun

Member
Wow! That's a good thing then(about FSU). I'm more into indie style.Thanks for sharing.

Well i'm still searching...but as of now i'm considering FAMU, Lodz,La Femis,NFTS(in EU) & VFS in Canada.
Lodz has its own test about polish films etc(so its unlikely that i'll apply).I'm not yet sure whether i'll apply to all these, but i'll try to apply for 1-2 among these schools.
Agreed USC is known for its alumni and connections are great.But as you said fee is insanely high.They might help you in getting some financial aid only after you get an admit(this will be during the course of study there, through some alumni grants etc). NYU has similar fee structure, but a "bit" lesser than USC. Best part about NYU is that it gives away scholarship based on the applicant's profile(i heard they give it to 2-3 best applicants).Among all the schools USC & NYU have the best film production programs(high end equipment,top class students & faculty)

I did my undergrad in science (no way related to film making). In my opinion MFA is much more than a degree.Its a chance to learn various aspects of film making, its evolution (film format) & transition to the present digital format etc. You will always be surrounded by like minded people(everyone passionate towards film making) which is a great thing and yeah of course connections you make with your peers and alumni which is very crucial in such industry.
 

TheArsenal1886

Well-Known Member
I've got no insider information, but I've dedicated a lot of time to researching the pros/cons of applying to film school, and here are a couple of items I've found to be generally agreed upon by a majority of more knowledgable sources on the issue:

  1. Film School is a trade school. It's about refining your craft and developing projects with other people in the program who are pursuing the same things you are. The actual degree doesn't matter at all. Nobody's ever been hired for a job because they have an MFA. People in the industry want to see what you can do, and they'd like, if possible, somebody they trust to vouch for you. The former is certainly more important than the latter, but the latter is still a common component of "breaking in." (see point 3)
  2. Generally, try to avoid things like "[specific school] is known for [specific type of filmmaking]." There are people at USC aspiring to make small, intimate films, and there are people at NYU aspiring to make large, high-concept films. Those generalities are often just based on the subsequent careers of notable alumni rather than any actual focus or preference. Schools are looking for good work, and they're not looking for bad work. It's generally as simple as that.
  3. Q: If the degree doesn't matter, then what does?
    A: That's entirely up to you. In case you're curious, here a few things that matter to me:
    1. Access to experts in their field. Since I want to work in the industry, I would prefer my professors to have worked or be currently working in the industry. That's not to say professors who haven't worked in the industry can't be excellent teachers -- I'd just be more comfortable being led into war by a someone who's been there before.
    2. Industry Integration. I will save the blather about it being "who you know" but not because it's untrue. A strong alumni base can be an incredible resource to have after you leave, and I'd prefer to be at a school that has shown itself capable of producing successful filmmakers. Integration goes beyond successful alumni, however. I'd like my school to teach industry-standard processes and terminology as well. (Another reason I'd prefer professors from within the industry)
    3. Proximity to the industry. Something that I think isn't given enough credit is a school's proximity to the industry -- essentially LA and NY. There's just not as much access to the industry from places like Austin and Tallahassee. This is really just a rehashing the first two points, but it's worth noting again. There are very few working professionals in cities not named Los Angeles or New York. There are exceptions, certainly -- Richard Linklater, for example. But even features and television shows that are shot in places like Denver, Atlanta, or New Orleans are all written and developed in either Los Angeles or, to a lesser extent, New York.
    4. Peers. This is not as school-specific, but it is an important reason I've decided to apply to film school. It'd be really helpful to be around a lot of people trying to do the same thing I'm trying to do, and it'd be even better if those people went on to be relationships within the industry as well. Thus, the more of your classmates your school can get working in the industry, the more relationships you graduate with.
    5. Equipment and Facilities. This doesn't really matter to me as much because I'm applying for screenwriting, but it's a significant factor for any production applicant. It's not as important as it was 20 years ago when there weren't DSLRs to shoot with and NLEs to cut on, but it's still a big advantage to learn on the same high-quality equipment that's being used in the industry.
With regard to money, film school is indeed very expensive, and some schools are much more expensive than others. Tuition costs aren't completely arbitrary, though. The way I view it, I'd rather take on a little more debt to attend an elite school that can provide me with more accomplished professors and more access to the industry than what a sub-elite school might be able to provide at a lower price. It's personal preference where you draw that line, but it's probably important you draw it somewhere.

I'd rather take a more expensive bet (elite school) with better odds (of getting me into the industry) than a less expensive bet with worse odds. If I'm not afforded the opportunity to make the more expensive bet, I'm not sure I'll make any bets. I'll probably take the money I was planning on betting and try and go at it a different way.

All of that being said, successful filmmakers have come from everywhere. Figure out the things you want in a film school, and apply to the places you think will make you the best filmmaker. Don't worry as much about things like the style of films other people have made at those schools.

Hopefully the stuff above will help you narrow your lists down a bit. End the end, though, remember that it doesn't matter where you went to school, how much you paid for it, or how many connections you've made if you're just not good at what you do.

Find the place that's going to make you the best, and if that's only a couple of places (or no places), so be it.
 

Point Break

Well-Known Member
Well said TheArsenal1886!

I'm preparing applications as well so I thought I'd chime in. After rigorously researching film programs for the past year, I've decided to apply to:

Columbia Screenwriting MFA
NYU Filmmaking MFA (with a focus in screenwriting)
USC Screenwriting MFA
UCLA Screenwriting MFA

I considered four more schools, but in the end, I agree with what TheArsenal1886 said, and I decided to go big or go alone (so, to speak). For the amount of time and money we're putting into these programs, I'd rather go for the top programs with the most comparative advantage. The right program will pay off years from now when it serves as the backbone of a long and successful career (at least in my situation).

My decision is based on an attraction to story. Screenwriting seems like the best path, but I'm also interested in TV and Directing. Columbia seems to combine everything that I'm looking for in an MFA curriculum, but I love various things about the other top programs as well. Is anyone else looking to take directing/production courses? Also, is anyone applying to NYU's Dramatic Writing program? I was heavily considering it (and basically still am)...
 

TheArsenal1886

Well-Known Member
Cheers, Point Break.

I suppose I never actually said where I was planning on applying. I originally planned on applying to USC, UCLA, NYU, AFI, and LMU. Over the last few months or so, I've whittled it down to just USC and UCLA. NYU and AFI are top programs with a lot to offer, but they just didn't feel like the right fit for me. I was really intrigued by the Writing and Producing for Television program at LMU, but, ultimately, I'm not sure it's going to provide exactly what I'm looking for either -- especially at a price that rivals the top programs.

There's certainly a significant chance that I go 0-2 in the application process, but that's fine. When the actual degree means nothing, it pretty much negates the need to have a "safety school." I'll continue to write and continue to save, and if the film school route doesn't work out, I'll just go about it the other way -- no harm done.
 

antbear

Member
As of now, I plan on applying to NYU's Dramatic Writing program, because, as aforementioned, I would like a program involving screen and playwriting as I want to hone my craft in both areas.

I agree with you both, TheArsenal 1886 and Point Break, regarding applying to the "big" schools for the top education/training and access to talent/professionals and alumni network etc. I haven't quite narrowed my list of applications yet, because I like to keep my options open, but it does seem the most "worth it" in the long run in the event of going to one of those schools.

Well said TheArsenal1886!

I'm preparing applications as well so I thought I'd chime in. After rigorously researching film programs for the past year, I've decided to apply to:

Columbia Screenwriting MFA
NYU Filmmaking MFA (with a focus in screenwriting)
USC Screenwriting MFA
UCLA Screenwriting MFA

I considered four more schools, but in the end, I agree with what TheArsenal1886 said, and I decided to go big or go alone (so, to speak). For the amount of time and money we're putting into these programs, I'd rather go for the top programs with the most comparative advantage. The right program will pay off years from now when it serves as the backbone of a long and successful career (at least in my situation).

My decision is based on an attraction to story. Screenwriting seems like the best path, but I'm also interested in TV and Directing. Columbia seems to combine everything that I'm looking for in an MFA curriculum, but I love various things about the other top programs as well. Is anyone else looking to take directing/production courses? Also, is anyone applying to NYU's Dramatic Writing program? I was heavily considering it (and basically still am)...
 

antbear

Member
Thank you for this response, it really helps to see all these thoughts/pros/cons listed in such a logical and organized manner, and I totally agree with you.

I appreciate your point about proximity. I know it's super obvious that LA is the place to be... If I didn't live in FL, I might not think of applying to FSU, for example.
I am considering the MFA to refine my craft and make connections (artistic, career, and otherwise), and I'm just trying to find the program that I think will do that best, which, you're right is probably one of the elite schools for the reasons you listed. I know I'm already good, but I know I have a lot to learn and I am eager to try to learn from the best.

However, like you said (sort of) if I don't get in then I'll just continue to write/make films and go at it (without the school), so I've got nothing to lose (except application fees and time doing writing samples/personal essays/etc.)


I've got no insider information, but I've dedicated a lot of time to researching the pros/cons of applying to film school, and here are a couple of items I've found to be generally agreed upon by a majority of more knowledgable sources on the issue:

  1. Film School is a trade school. It's about refining your craft and developing projects with other people in the program who are pursuing the same things you are. The actual degree doesn't matter at all. Nobody's ever been hired for a job because they have an MFA. People in the industry want to see what you can do, and they'd like, if possible, somebody they trust to vouch for you. The former is certainly more important than the latter, but the latter is still a common component of "breaking in." (see point 3)
  2. Generally, try to avoid things like "[specific school] is known for [specific type of filmmaking]." There are people at USC aspiring to make small, intimate films, and there are people at NYU aspiring to make large, high-concept films. Those generalities are often just based on the subsequent careers of notable alumni rather than any actual focus or preference. Schools are looking for good work, and they're not looking for bad work. It's generally as simple as that.
  3. Q: If the degree doesn't matter, then what does?
    A: That's entirely up to you. In case you're curious, here a few things that matter to me:
    1. Access to experts in their field. Since I want to work in the industry, I would prefer my professors to have worked or be currently working in the industry. That's not to say professors who haven't worked in the industry can't be excellent teachers -- I'd just be more comfortable being led into war by a someone who's been there before.
    2. Industry Integration. I will save the blather about it being "who you know" but not because it's untrue. A strong alumni base can be an incredible resource to have after you leave, and I'd prefer to be at a school that has shown itself capable of producing successful filmmakers. Integration goes beyond successful alumni, however. I'd like my school to teach industry-standard processes and terminology as well. (Another reason I'd prefer professors from within the industry)
    3. Proximity to the industry. Something that I think isn't given enough credit is a school's proximity to the industry -- essentially LA and NY. There's just not as much access to the industry from places like Austin and Tallahassee. This is really just a rehashing the first two points, but it's worth noting again. There are very few working professionals in cities not named Los Angeles or New York. There are exceptions, certainly -- Richard Linklater, for example. But even features and television shows that are shot in places like Denver, Atlanta, or New Orleans are all written and developed in either Los Angeles or, to a lesser extent, New York.
    4. Peers. This is not as school-specific, but it is an important reason I've decided to apply to film school. It'd be really helpful to be around a lot of people trying to do the same thing I'm trying to do, and it'd be even better if those people went on to be relationships within the industry as well. Thus, the more of your classmates your school can get working in the industry, the more relationships you graduate with.
    5. Equipment and Facilities. This doesn't really matter to me as much because I'm applying for screenwriting, but it's a significant factor for any production applicant. It's not as important as it was 20 years ago when there weren't DSLRs to shoot with and NLEs to cut on, but it's still a big advantage to learn on the same high-quality equipment that's being used in the industry.
With regard to money, film school is indeed very expensive, and some schools are much more expensive than others. Tuition costs aren't completely arbitrary, though. The way I view it, I'd rather take on a little more debt to attend an elite school that can provide me with more accomplished professors and more access to the industry than what a sub-elite school might be able to provide at a lower price. It's personal preference where you draw that line, but it's probably important you draw it somewhere.


I'd rather take a more expensive bet (elite school) with better odds (of getting me into the industry) than a less expensive bet with worse odds. If I'm not afforded the opportunity to make the more expensive bet, I'm not sure I'll make any bets. I'll probably take the money I was planning on betting and try and go at it a different way.

All of that being said, successful filmmakers have come from everywhere. Figure out the things you want in a film school, and apply to the places you think will make you the best filmmaker. Don't worry as much about things like the style of films other people have made at those schools.

Hopefully the stuff above will help you narrow your lists down a bit. End the end, though, remember that it doesn't matter where you went to school, how much you paid for it, or how many connections you've made if you're just not good at what you do.

Find the place that's going to make you the best, and if that's only a couple of places (or no places), so be it.
 
Hello,

Nice to meet you all.

I am applying t0

UCLA MFA screenwriting
USC MFA screenwriting
LMU MFA Screenwriting
NYU MFA Dramatic Writing

I don't know about AFI I'm thinking about it, but I don't know. Some of my favorite filmmakers went there, but over 30 years ago. I don't even know if I will go if I'm accepted It's a back up plan I guess. I'm still going to apply.

Good Luck!!!
 

Point Break

Well-Known Member
Welcome!

I was wondering, what draws you to NYU's Dramatic Writing program? I was considering it for a while, but I have no experience in playwriting and I'm more interested in gaining practical experience in directing, as well as TV (writing/directing).

I know playwriting can only help me to be a better filmmaker (especially for TV writing), but I feel uneasy devoting such a high percentage of a two-year MFA study (about 25%) to playwriting, and I do not see myself as a playwright. I don't doubt the program churns out successful graduates (which I could benefit from), but I'd really like to get my feet wet with other "disciplines" of filmmaking in grad school. This is one of the main reasons why I'm attracted to Columbia's program.

Can you (or anyone for that matter) talk about your experience with playwriting and how you hope to apply it to a career in film? I'm applying to mostly screenwriting programs, but NYU's filmmaking MFA seems to give me the latitude I'm looking for in developing my filmmaking/storytelling ability.

p.s. I'm also looking to AFI as a lucrative backup, but don'r know too much about the program either, besides it seems to be compartmentalized to each discipline.
Hello,

Nice to meet you all.

I am applying t0

UCLA MFA screenwriting
USC MFA screenwriting
LMU MFA Screenwriting
NYU MFA Dramatic Writing

I don't know about AFI I'm thinking about it, but I don't know. Some of my favorite filmmakers went there, but over 30 years ago. I don't even know if I will go if I'm accepted It's a back up plan I guess. I'm still going to apply.

Good Luck!!!
 
Point Break,

To be honest I'm mostly applying to NYU just to get back at someone who said I would not get in. I'm from Los Angeles and have my family here even if they offered me a full ride I would not go. I saw that they only offered Dramatic Writing since they did not have just a screenwriting MFA like the other programs off, but I honestly would not mind learning to playwright. Since in terms of formatting I can't stretch further with screenwriting.

I think any writing as long as we use our storytelling will help us develop in screenwriting. Plays work at telling stories in the same manner, but just for a live audience. I'm sure you have to learn stage direction and a lot more, but I do believe it goes for the most part hand and hand.

I'm thinking about AFI as well, but the thing is I would love to go for cinematography, but I have no reel. I have a bunch of scripts so I'm hoping if I get into one of the programs maybe I can switch internally. To be honest with screenwriting it's just about writing and writing and writing some more. Aside from connections and the option of teaching I don't see what more I could possibly gain from the MFA. I'm sure there are aspects I can further develop, but I don't know if it's worth six figures. Ha that's my indecision at work.

I think you should go for it. It seems you like the filmmaking aspect a lot more. I was just talking to my teacher today about grad school I don't suggest you ask me anymore questions ha. I'm trying to talk myself out of continuing my education. Apply to all of them would be my answer.

I'm applying to LA ones and NYU. WOO WOO!

Once again Good Luck.
 

TSK

Member
Hi everyone,

Long time reader, first time commenter. As of right now, I plan on applying to USC, UCLA, NYU (filmmaking, not dramatic writing), AFI, and Columbia. I was under the impression USC's application deadline was December 1st but I just went to double check and yikes. November 1st for priority consideration. Is anyone else here doing priority consideration for USC? Is it worth it?

Good luck!
 

TheArsenal1886

Well-Known Member
Welcome TSK!

Do you have any information as to what differentiates the priority deadline and the general deadline?

When I attended one of their online information sessions, I forgot to ask that question. I'm still planning on getting everything submitted around the first or second week of October so that my recommenders have time to get their letters in and my school has time to get the transcripts processed and sent off. I believe neither of those have to be completed by either deadline, but I'd prefer to have my file fully compete by that 11/1 deadline.

Is it possible admission decisions might come earlier for those meeting the priority deadline? When I was applying to law school, a lot of the schools had an "early decision" option where you would apply before a certain deadline and they would actually offer admission much earlier than those students who didn't select that option. That would be a welcome change to the torturous wait of mid-January/February
 

iWonder

Member
Yo Yo,
I'll be throwing my hat in the ring for AFI, UCLA, Columbia, NYU, USC, and Chapman.
I just called USC's office, and the lady told me the only difference between priority and general is that priority alerts you sooner of any missing documents in your application: transcripts, letters of recs, personal statement, ect. She said it will not give you an early decision.
In short, don't stress if you need two more weeks to polish everything. At the end of day, it's all about quality writing.
 

TheArsenal1886

Well-Known Member
Hm... I suppose it could reflect a modicum of commitment on the applicant's part for the file to be tagged with the "Priority Deadline" status upon intital categorization, but I think you're right. A couple of extra weeks might afford enough time to improve your work well above any minimal recognition for hitting the first deadline.

I wish they would allow you to submit recommenders' email addresses before actually submitting your application. My only real intrest in submitting it early is giving them enough time to write their letters. I've contacted them all already, but just from knowing them, I know they're not actually going to sit down and write them until prompted by the schools.
 

TSK

Member
Hi again,

iWonder, thanks for clarifying! I called them a little before you posted and the person working the desk told me that the chief difference between priority consideration and general consideration is that they a) look at your file before the general consideration applications and b) notify you re: interviews/acceptance before the general consideration applicants. All in all, I think Nov 1st sounds like a pretty good deal.
 

iWonder

Member
@TSK We must've spoken to different people. I thought it was odd when she said is the only difference is they alert you of a missing documents sooner. What you heard definitely makes more sense. It sounds like priority is the way to be.
 

antbear

Member
Does anybody know if USC MFA (dramatic writing... or otherwise) requires the GRE? I'm looking at their website but I'm sort of confused (I think looking at all of the websites is making me lose my mind, and I'm taking the GRE tomorrow so blegh).
 

TheArsenal1886

Well-Known Member
Does anybody know if USC MFA (dramatic writing... or otherwise) requires the GRE? I'm looking at their website but I'm sort of confused (I think looking at all of the websites is making me lose my mind, and I'm taking the GRE tomorrow so blegh).

Neither the USC nor the UCLA screenwriting program requires the GRE but accept the scores if you feel it would contribute positively to your application.
 
Add your film school application to our Application Database so that we can improve our admissions statistics.

Add Application…

Student Films Made at Film Programs

A248
Views
236
Reaction score
1
An exploration of the history and modern day importance of postcards.
Film Program
Loyola Marymount University
Course
PROD 670
Film Type
Thesis Film
Genre
Documentary
Duration/Running Time
17:31
Film Completion
May 1, 2021
Colella612
Updated
3.00 star(s) 1 ratings
Views
921
Reaction score
2
Reviews
1
Questions
2
After the light bulb on her film projector burns out, an elderly woman must confront a nightmarish world as well as the trauma of her past as she seeks to find a replacement before her memories are lost forever.
Film Program
Loyola Marymount University
Course
Directing Short Film II: Visual Story
Film Type
Assignment
Genre
Drama
Duration/Running Time
5:58
Film Completion
May 3, 2021
A248
Views
197
Reaction score
2
An artist invites an especially harsh critic to her studio for an exclusive preview of her latest work.
Film Program
Loyola Marymount University
Course
PROD 550
Film Type
Assignment
Genre
Horror
Duration/Running Time
6:01
Film Completion
May 1, 2019

Users who are viewing this thread


Latest Accepted Applications


Acceptance Data
For up to date Film School Acceptance Rates, including Minimum GPAs, Minimum Test Scores, After Interview and Off-Waitlist Acceptance Rates, Film Experience and Undergraduate degrees of accepted applicants, Age data, and other acceptance statistics for your film program of choice simply navigate to the Acceptance Rates tab on each film school's page in our Film School Database.

For example:
Add your own Application to our application database to help improve the site's acceptance data.

Latest Applications

Latest reviews

Latest questions

Latest Articles

Latest Accepted Applications

Top