UCLA MFA Screenwriting 2020

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
Hey fam! I wanted to pop on because exactly one year ago I was admitted to UCLA after giving up all hope. Truly, it isn't over until it's over. You never know!
Thanks for stopping by again! How are you liking UCLA?
 

ConODon

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
Looks like UCLA will be offering online classes in the fall due to the housing situation being impacted by COVID-19, even if some classes will be held on campus. So the plot thickens. Anyone have any thoughts on how that would impact their choice to attend? Tuition and fees will remain the same.
 

Alfie

Member
Also according to USCIS, international students can only take one online class per semester. not sure how that may affect things.
 

ConODon

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
Alfie, hopefully they are making exceptions due to the exceptional circumstances this year. If not, I wonder if they'd consider letting people who were admitted for Fall 2020 defer until Fall 2021 without having to go back into the application pool. That would have a ripple effect in next year's applications for sure, so that might be out of the question. They've got their hands full trying to figure everything out amid constantly changing circumstances, that's for sure.

Here's a question for any here who are/have been in the program already -

What was your class schedule like during your first semester / first year? How would your experience/education have been affected if you had taken those classes online?

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
Here's a question for any here who are/have been in the program already -

What was your class schedule like during your first semester / first year? How would your experience/education have been affected if you had taken those classes online?

Thanks in advance to anyone who replies.
Did you see @Kira 's covid article?

Film School during COVID-19

Film School during COVID-19

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during this uncertain time. This article today is going to be a little different from the norm! Chris had the wonderful idea of writing up a little something about how different film schools are handling the COVID-19. I jumped on board immediately...
 

ConODon

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
Did you see @Kira 's covid article?

Film School during COVID-19

Film School during COVID-19

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during this uncertain time. This article today is going to be a little different from the norm! Chris had the wonderful idea of writing up a little something about how different film schools are handling the COVID-19. I jumped on board immediately...
I hadn't seen that. Thanks for the heads up. It's a great article.
 

ConODon

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
When are we supposed to be figuring out which classes to enroll in and things like that? I feel like I should be doing something, but I haven't received anything in my UCLA email inbox or my personal email account about next steps. Last thing I received was the preliminary financial aid report. It feels like limbo over here.
 

SS66666

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
When are we supposed to be figuring out which classes to enroll in and things like that? I feel like I should be doing something, but I haven't received anything in my UCLA email inbox or my personal email account about next steps. Last thing I received was the preliminary financial aid report. It feels like limbo over here.
I messaged our academic advisor yesterday and she said that they will be reaching out to incoming students soon. I agree it feels like limbo. With all the reports about the UC system being "largely online in the Fall," I'm still worried about our program. I really do hope we will at least have in-person workshops sometimes.
 

malk789

New Member
Hey everyone,

It's a tough call, but I'm considering whether or not to enroll if/when the program officially goes online. Granted, the screenwriting program is probably easier than most to move online. Zoom workshops aren't the end of the world, and the writing deadlines would still be helpful. But the real value of the program (according to the few friends of mine who've gone through the program) is collaboration, and the community you build with your fellow writers, which just isn't the same via Zoom. Still not a total bust. I just imagine it's not quite the same.

Curious if we'll have the option to defer enrollment to Winter or Spring. It sounds like deferment is possible for students who take breaks for work (talked about this in my interview). Guess we'll see. I reached out to the department about this on April 2nd, but haven't heard back.

Haven't made the call yet, but the idea of paying full price for Zoom classes is not terribly appealing.

Hope you're all well.
 

ConODon

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
I see your point, but I'm not sure there's a big difference between doing the Fall quarter via Zoom and transitioning back to on-campus classes for Winter and Spring and deferring enrollment until Winter or Spring, except that you'd be waiting for an extra couple months instead of getting a jump on the introductory weeks. We'll still all get to know each other and get to share our work and make those connections. There's nothing that indicates they intend to do the whole program online indefinitely. They're just caught in the struggle of protecting students in class and in housing while there's no vaccine and no easy and affordable test students can take at home before going to class.

I totally understand that cost will be a major consideration. Paying full price for an online course from UCLA is like paying for a Hawaiian vacation and being sent a DVD of some sea gulls on a beach. I'm luckier than some in the fact that I live in a town with ridiculously low rent (like $300 for a 1br/1ba apt) so the cost offset is actually pretty attractive. But ultimately I'm paying for a UCLA education and whatever they need to do to accommodate that is okay by me. If it went into Fall 2021 with no on-campus options, I might reconsider, but for now, for me, I'm supporting their decision to do whatever they need to do, assuming the faculty and curriculum aren't changing.

I hope we all get through this crazy, historic, stressful year and that better times are on the horizon. Until then, I'm glad we have this forum and I'm looking forward to virtually meeting everyone in class and learning about you and your work. I'm rooting for all of you as you struggle to make decisions about attending or postponing. It sucks that one of the greatest times of your life is being weighed down by this virus and the need to be extra cautious, but it will be SO worth it when this part is over, and Bruin life gets back to normal.

Hang in there!
 

user_name

Member
UCLA
Definitely a consideration here as well. Esp as an international student, a huge portion of the value of the program is the actual being in LA - connecting with people and such. It's one of the main reasons I applied. It's a tremendous investment for internationals as is, and I won't feel good about it if I'm not able to really take advantage of being there. Hoping that deferral will be on the table. Glad I'm not the only one in this boat!
 

dkimg21

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
Hey ya'll,

I'm an incoming student for the Production/Directing program, and I hope my response here is useful!

I've been asking a lot of questions via phone and email because, like everyone, I would LOVE to be on campus for the fall semester. As far as I'm aware, a lot of the classes are being moved online. They seem to be offering "hybrid" classes where half of the class would attend in-person and switch off to online with the other half of the class.

That being said, I don't think they're going to allow deferment for a quarter or two if students will still be attending this fall. At least for my program, the classes are structured as a cohort, so students would start and finish together. I thought about deferring to next year, but apparently the admissions committee rotates regularly. My admission for the following year wouldn't be guaranteed if they changed some members of the admissions team.

I really hope they defer classes for EVERYONE. This would save me so much money in terms of housing, especially since I'm in Denver. However, I think I will still end up attending in the fall!
 

ConODon

Member
Supporting Member
UCLA
Hey ya'll,

I'm an incoming student for the Production/Directing program, and I hope my response here is useful!

I've been asking a lot of questions via phone and email because, like everyone, I would LOVE to be on campus for the fall semester. As far as I'm aware, a lot of the classes are being moved online. They seem to be offering "hybrid" classes where half of the class would attend in-person and switch off to online with the other half of the class.

That being said, I don't think they're going to allow deferment for a quarter or two if students will still be attending this fall. At least for my program, the classes are structured as a cohort, so students would start and finish together. I thought about deferring to next year, but apparently the admissions committee rotates regularly. My admission for the following year wouldn't be guaranteed if they changed some members of the admissions team.

I really hope they defer classes for EVERYONE. This would save me so much money in terms of housing, especially since I'm in Denver. However, I think I will still end up attending in the fall!
Hey, Denver. Central Wyoming here. I've heard that for programs where students absolutely need access to equipment, like production and directing, those classes are in the same category as the lab- and research-intensive programs that would need to be done on campus, with modifications for social distancing and disinfectant procedures etc. Screenwriting transitions quite easily to an online platform. I just finished up an online class last week and my writing partner is one of the teachers for the Sundance Episodic program, which is online, so it's totally doable. Probably not as much fun, but totally doable.

I'm hoping they'll considering offering housing first to international students, so even if the classes are online for the first 10 weeks, at least they'll be able to start the LA experience. My partner and I were doing trips to LA every 6-8 weeks before the lockdown, so I know how disappointing it is to delay the social networking part of the program. But we'll all get there eventually. If anyone needs a dose of extra encouragement or wants to vent, PM me or post here and I'll lift ya up. I've been mentoring students at the local college and if you need a personal cheerleader, I'm yer guy... uh... gal.

When we do eventually get to be on campus, just wondering how much interaction all the different cohorts get. Like, do we get to mingle with DP and production and directing students? That's what I'm looking forward to the most!
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
New article from @Kira (UCLA Screenwriting alumni):

10 Tips on How to Write a Screenplay

10 Tips on How to Write a Screenplay

Are you interested in becoming a better screenwriter? Of course you are! No matter where you are in the game, you should always strive to improve your writing abilities. This constant ambition and effort to become a more skilled writer is what separates a doer from a dreamer! I’ve learned a lot...
 

fehab77

Member
Has anyone not heard back yet? I emailed them and apparently decisions are still rolling. No idea how that makes sense this late in the game, but that's what they told me.
 

Lucabreu96

Member
Hey, Denver. Central Wyoming here. I've heard that for programs where students absolutely need access to equipment, like production and directing, those classes are in the same category as the lab- and research-intensive programs that would need to be done on campus, with modifications for social distancing and disinfectant procedures etc. Screenwriting transitions quite easily to an online platform. I just finished up an online class last week and my writing partner is one of the teachers for the Sundance Episodic program, which is online, so it's totally doable. Probably not as much fun, but totally doable.

I'm hoping they'll considering offering housing first to international students, so even if the classes are online for the first 10 weeks, at least they'll be able to start the LA experience. My partner and I were doing trips to LA every 6-8 weeks before the lockdown, so I know how disappointing it is to delay the social networking part of the program. But we'll all get there eventually. If anyone needs a dose of extra encouragement or wants to vent, PM me or post here and I'll lift ya up. I've been mentoring students at the local college and if you need a personal cheerleader, I'm yer guy... uh... gal.

When we do eventually get to be on campus, just wondering how much interaction all the different cohorts get. Like, do we get to mingle with DP and production and directing students? That's what I'm looking forward to the most!
This only answers the last few sentences but I hope this extensive response is helpful!

From my experience, most of my interactions were with fellow screenwriting MFA students, first and second years. You really have to try to make an effort, though. We would go to Barney's Beanery, a bar in Westwood, and hang out at 10 pm for 2-3 hours once a week. Sometimes, it would happen earlier, it just depends on the people you're around, I guess. But those moments are great to vent, talk, catch up, and naturally network(?) because it's unforced in my opinion.

I hung out and became friends with Producing (not production) students because I took a producing class in the Fall and Winter. They were also in our Introductory/Required class if they ever want to write a script in a workshop. That's where you can meet other playwrights, directors, animation students, etc.

There was a Directors party in the fall that the Directors put on and others were invited. I met one or two directors, and a couple since then through CMS classes (one sec) but as someone who films a lot of my own things with friends, not that it didn't seem necessary but it wasn't as natural of a connection as it would be with a producer (in my instance). Directors are super kind and crazy hard-working though so if you need people to make stuff for you, absolutely go in their direction!

CMS, or Cinema and Media Studies, courses are required to graduate for MFA Screenwriters. Two of them. They can range from Cinema of the 1960s to Computer Applications for Film Studies, both of which I took, both of which were very different. It can be easy to want to take the "not-so-challenging" or avoid "work-intensive" classes but you really do learn a tremendous amount from experts in whatever they're teaching. If you're curious about something, take the class! You can also, as far as what I did, take the class Pass/Fail (Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory). I would have received an A in the CMS course from the fall but opted to do S/U. Not the end of the world if you don't get into one in the fall, as I didn't, but I would recommend it. My point in sharing this is that I have met fellow writers, directors, producers, animators, and CMS students through these classes. It's also an opportunity to "network."

Don't look at networking as networking. Look at it as building relationships. We are human. We are not devices to help one another climb up a ladder. We are people trying to make it in a really lonely city, in a challenging and isolating industry. We should have each other's backs. You won't be everyone's best friend, but you will make some good ones along the way. People that you feel like you will climb with. People that push you to become a better writer/director/creator/filmmaker/person. Surround yourself with those people, and when you do, ask yourself if you are elevating those around you the way you want them to elevate you.

I've put this out here a couple of times but feel free to email me any questions you may have. I do not represent the university or program in any official way, as it is purely my opinion and told from my experience, but I would love to try to help as much as I can. These are trying times. It can be a stressful transition. As the quarter wraps up, I will try to do my best to respond to emails as quickly as possible but if I don't reply quickly, I will get to it soon after! (email is Abreu@ucla.edu)

Stay safe and wash your hands!
Lucas
 
Has anyone not heard back yet? I emailed them and apparently decisions are still rolling. No idea how that makes sense this late in the game, but that's what they told me.
I'm with you, I haven't heard anything back yet. I find it frustrating because nowhere on the site does it say rolling admissions...? At least, not that I can find. At this point I've given up on them, to be honest.
 

DaVinciNoir

Member
LMU
Has anyone not heard back yet? I emailed them and apparently decisions are still rolling. No idea how that makes sense this late in the game, but that's what they told me.
Nope. I've accepted that it isn't going to happen and registered for fall classes with the other university I was accepted to. If UCLA finally calls with good news, I'll think about it. 😂
 

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