UCLA MFA Screenwriting 2020

MarinaM

New Member
Had my UCLA interview yesterday with Phyllis and Neil. It was...interesting, to say the least. I felt that Phyllis was extremely critical of my answers, visibly disappointed if they didn't align with what she had in mind. When I told her my favorite screenwriters (Charlie Kaufman, Jordan Peele, Bong Joon Ho), her only response was, "So no female screenwriters?" in an annoyed tone. Normally I would appreciate when someone points out a lack of female voice, but as a woman who has studied female playwrights before, I was offended that I was on the chopping block for that. She was also dissatisfied that I'd submitted a 60 page cut of a feature, which was literally listed on the application as an accepted writing sample. Her perspective was that it showed I couldn't finish things. I had prepared for the questions beforehand, even going on this forum from 2019 to try to find old questions. But two questions I wasn't prepared for: What are older, non-contemporary films I'm inspired by? What are foreign language films, and don't say Parasite (those are Phyllis' words, not mine) that I'm inspired by? Overall, I've read such great things about UCLA, especially from current students on this site, and yet the interview left such a bad taste in my mouth about the school. The only reason I'm leaving such a long response is that I want everyone else on here to be prepared if they meet with her, and to remember: You are still talented, even if you don't appease the 3 (three!) writers who admit applications to this 1 (one!) school.
 

dorkydiana

Active Member
Had my UCLA interview yesterday with Phyllis and Neil. It was...interesting, to say the least. I felt that Phyllis was extremely critical of my answers, visibly disappointed if they didn't align with what she had in mind. When I told her my favorite screenwriters (Charlie Kaufman, Jordan Peele, Bong Joon Ho), her only response was, "So no female screenwriters?" in an annoyed tone. Normally I would appreciate when someone points out a lack of female voice, but as a woman who has studied female playwrights before, I was offended that I was on the chopping block for that. She was also dissatisfied that I'd submitted a 60 page cut of a feature, which was literally listed on the application as an accepted writing sample. Her perspective was that it showed I couldn't finish things. I had prepared for the questions beforehand, even going on this forum from 2019 to try to find old questions. But two questions I wasn't prepared for: What are older, non-contemporary films I'm inspired by? What are foreign language films, and don't say Parasite (those are Phyllis' words, not mine) that I'm inspired by? Overall, I've read such great things about UCLA, especially from current students on this site, and yet the interview left such a bad taste in my mouth about the school. The only reason I'm leaving such a long response is that I want everyone else on here to be prepared if they meet with her, and to remember: You are still talented, even if you don't appease the 3 (three!) writers who admit applications to this 1 (one!) school.
first of all i’m so sorry u had to go through that i really really hate condescending people who are incredibly passive aggressive like phyllis (what a name) and this is one of the many reasons i hate cinephiles bc they’re so pompous and obtuse like there was no reason for her to act so unprofessional like that and once again i’m sorry u had to experience that in all honesty tho if i were u i wouldn’t even consider going there i mean ur post just completely turned me off from ucla :/ i would hate to go to a school with losers like that lmao damn anyways i’m sure ure awesome given ur choice of fave screenwriters jordan peele and bong joon ho are also incredibly inspirational to me too those were really rad choices :)
 

MarinaM

New Member
first of all i’m so sorry u had to go through that i really really hate condescending people who are incredibly passive aggressive like phyllis (what a name) and this is one of the many reasons i hate cinephiles bc they’re so pompous and obtuse like there was no reason for her to act so unprofessional like that and once again i’m sorry u had to experience that in all honesty tho if i were u i wouldn’t even consider going there i mean ur post just completely turned me off from ucla :/ i would hate to go to a school with losers like that lmao damn anyways i’m sure ure awesome given ur choice of fave screenwriters jordan peele and bong joon ho are also incredibly inspirational to me too those were really rad choices :)
Thank you!! You're so sweet, I needed to hear this. Those screenwriters are inspirational, I agree :) And I hope that other people can still give UCLA a chance, I'd hate for people to think I'm dissuading anyone away from the school. I just know I would have wanted to be prepared for their attitude if I was about to interview!
 

Alfie

Member
Had my UCLA interview yesterday with Phyllis and Neil. It was...interesting, to say the least. I felt that Phyllis was extremely critical of my answers, visibly disappointed if they didn't align with what she had in mind. When I told her my favorite screenwriters (Charlie Kaufman, Jordan Peele, Bong Joon Ho), her only response was, "So no female screenwriters?" in an annoyed tone. Normally I would appreciate when someone points out a lack of female voice, but as a woman who has studied female playwrights before, I was offended that I was on the chopping block for that. She was also dissatisfied that I'd submitted a 60 page cut of a feature, which was literally listed on the application as an accepted writing sample. Her perspective was that it showed I couldn't finish things. I had prepared for the questions beforehand, even going on this forum from 2019 to try to find old questions. But two questions I wasn't prepared for: What are older, non-contemporary films I'm inspired by? What are foreign language films, and don't say Parasite (those are Phyllis' words, not mine) that I'm inspired by? Overall, I've read such great things about UCLA, especially from current students on this site, and yet the interview left such a bad taste in my mouth about the school. The only reason I'm leaving such a long response is that I want everyone else on here to be prepared if they meet with her, and to remember: You are still talented, even if you don't appease the 3 (three!) writers who admit applications to this 1 (one!) school.
Sorry to hear about your experience. Was this an in-person interview?
 

dorkydiana

Active Member
Thank you!! You're so sweet, I needed to hear this. Those screenwriters are inspirational, I agree :) And I hope that other people can still give UCLA a chance, I'd hate for people to think I'm dissuading anyone away from the school. I just know I would have wanted to be prepared for their attitude if I was about to interview!
oh no don’t worry that’s totally not what ure doing and i know! i would also want to be prepared for that once again sorry u had to go through that i’m kinda glad i didn’t get an interview request now bc lord knows if i was in ur position i would’ve either cried or somehow magically thrown hands at phyllis through the computer screen...i would love to see someone try to give me that kind of ‘tude.....7DCA366F-E5EF-48D7-B55C-97140EB570E8.jpeg
 

Alfie

Member
One thing I’ve read people write is ‘the interviewer asked me such and such since I’m on the tv track or film track’ and I don’t remember stating anywhere on my application what track I’m interested in. Did I miss that? Or is that something that’s assumed based on the material you turned in?
 

dorkydiana

Active Member
One thing I’ve read people write is ‘the interviewer asked me such and such since I’m on the tv track or film track’ and I don’t remember stating anywhere on my application what track I’m interested in. Did I miss that? Or is that something that’s assumed based on the material you turned in?
i’m sure it’s based on the materials u submitted!
 

MarinaM

New Member
One thing I’ve read people write is ‘the interviewer asked me such and such since I’m on the tv track or film track’ and I don’t remember stating anywhere on my application what track I’m interested in. Did I miss that? Or is that something that’s assumed based on the material you turned in?
They did ask me what track I was intending on doing, but you actually don't have to pick your track until the second quarter of school. So no worries if you're not sure. But yes, they do look at your writing sample to get an idea of which track you might lean towards.
 

dorkydiana

Active Member
In that case, I’m screwed because I submitted a full length drama feature but I’m almost exclusively interested in TV comedy.
nah, to me that just goes to show that u have range and are able to write more than one genre—it’s a good thing i wouldn’t be too worried :)
 

ams2020

Member
Had my UCLA interview yesterday with Phyllis and Neil. It was...interesting, to say the least. I felt that Phyllis was extremely critical of my answers, visibly disappointed if they didn't align with what she had in mind. When I told her my favorite screenwriters (Charlie Kaufman, Jordan Peele, Bong Joon Ho), her only response was, "So no female screenwriters?" in an annoyed tone. Normally I would appreciate when someone points out a lack of female voice, but as a woman who has studied female playwrights before, I was offended that I was on the chopping block for that. She was also dissatisfied that I'd submitted a 60 page cut of a feature, which was literally listed on the application as an accepted writing sample. Her perspective was that it showed I couldn't finish things. I had prepared for the questions beforehand, even going on this forum from 2019 to try to find old questions. But two questions I wasn't prepared for: What are older, non-contemporary films I'm inspired by? What are foreign language films, and don't say Parasite (those are Phyllis' words, not mine) that I'm inspired by? Overall, I've read such great things about UCLA, especially from current students on this site, and yet the interview left such a bad taste in my mouth about the school. The only reason I'm leaving such a long response is that I want everyone else on here to be prepared if they meet with her, and to remember: You are still talented, even if you don't appease the 3 (three!) writers who admit applications to this 1 (one!) school.
That's really intimidating and unfortunate. I'm curious about what her feedback was to your responses about foreign language films and non-contemporary films. Did they discuss your sample in-depth? I'm sorry you had such a negative experience, but it seems like you handle it with grace. Best of luck!
 

mab676

Nervousapplicant676
Supporting Member
Okay this is crazy I did not get asked like any of those questions, not a single one of them. My interview was actually pretty casual.
 
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Chris W

"The night was..."
Staff member
BU
They did ask me what track I was intending on doing, but you actually don't have to pick your track until the second quarter of school. So no worries if you're not sure. But yes, they do look at your writing sample to get an idea of which track you might lean towards.
Be sure to update your application with this interview info to help others. :) And congrats on the interview!
 

MarinaM

New Member
That's really intimidating and unfortunate. I'm curious about what her feedback was to your responses about foreign language films and non-contemporary films. Did they discuss your sample in-depth? I'm sorry you had such a negative experience, but it seems like you handle it with grace. Best of luck!
So unfortunately, I was so caught off-guard by the questions that my mind completely blanked. Totally on me for that. I had to say that I wanted to learn more, but that no films came to mind that specifically had inspired my writing. My classic film history knowledge is not on par with other applicants, so I have a feeling that might hurt my chances. They didn't ask me anything about my background or my writing sample, which were the questions I'd prepared for the most. But I assumed that my lack of knowledge on older and foreign films were maybe why they didn't ask about the other points.
 

MarinaM

New Member
Okay this is crazy I did not get asked like any of those questions, not a single one of them. My interview was actually pretty casual. I was expecting something from Phyllis bc I googled her before the interview and lets just say there was *cough* controversy, but she didn't say anything like that to me and she wasn't rude or anything at all so I assumed it was just rumors. I'm sorry you had to deal with that! As though belittling someone is ever something a person in a position of power should do :(.
That's so interesting! I'm really happy that it went well for you. My interview was late at night (she was eating while I was answering her questions), so maybe I caught her at a bad time? But anyway, thanks for your words.
 

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