UCLA or UCR? (Screenwriting MFA)

Naya86

Member
I kid you not, this is what it comes down to. Before you berate me for even considering to pass up UCLA for UCR, especially for the film school, let me explain the situation.

UCR offers a screenwriting MFA that is partially funded. They gave me a fellowship that pays tuition, health insurance, and a generous stipend for the first year (total package is almost 25K). Also my parents live in Riverside and assured me my housing would be taken care of, as well.

Like an idiot, I did not apply to scholarships or grants for UCLA. The acceptance letter mentioned students in recent years received between 7K and 10K of funding, but that is not guaranteed. While the tuition is relatively inexpensive for film school, I just discovered the MFA includes a 10K fee for the professional certificate program. Not to mention, I would have to pay another 12K or so/year for housing. In total, I would need to budget around $38,000 a year to go to UCLA, and virtually $0 to go to UCR.

So, it looks like my decision comes down to a classic case of cost versus opportunity. UCR would not provide me the same access to the industry as UCLA, nor the same quality of instruction; but it would not balloon my student debt, either.

What do you all think? I know it will come down to personal values, as in all big life decisions, but I'm wondering if there are other angles I missed? I hope you all get a kick out of this, at least. I sure did.
 

46SSS78

New Member
I kid you not, this is what it comes down to. Before you berate me for even considering to pass up UCLA for UCR, especially for the film school, let me explain the situation.

UCR offers a screenwriting MFA that is partially funded. They gave me a fellowship that pays tuition, health insurance, and a generous stipend for the first year (total package is almost 25K). Also my parents live in Riverside and assured me my housing would be taken care of, as well.

Like an idiot, I did not apply to scholarships or grants for UCLA. The acceptance letter mentioned students in recent years received between 7K and 10K of funding, but that is not guaranteed. While the tuition is relatively inexpensive for film school, I just discovered the MFA includes a 10K fee for the professional certificate program. Not to mention, I would have to pay another 12K or so/year for housing. In total, I would need to budget around $38,000 a year to go to UCLA, and virtually $0 to go to UCR.

So, it looks like my decision comes down to a classic case of cost versus opportunity. UCR would not provide me the same access to the industry as UCLA, nor the same quality of instruction; but it would not balloon my student debt, either.

What do you all think? I know it will come down to personal values, as in all big life decisions, but I'm wondering if there are other angles I missed? I hope you all get a kick out of this, at least. I sure did.
Hi, I actually just graduated with a Bachelors in Theater, Film and Digital Production with a concentration in Writing for the Performing Arts from UCR. I will start off by saying that their film program is fairly new but they are currently working on expanding. I went into UCR with a concentration in Film Production but switched to Writing for the Performing Arts. I switched because it was very difficult getting into the film production courses and my goal was to graduate in two years.

I’ll start off by saying that they have a great writing faculty. Stuart Krieger, Robin Russin, Rickerby Hinds, Charles Evered are all part of the Writing for the Performing Arts faculty and they are amazing. Professor Krieger also teaches the screenwriting course for the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC. They are all very accessible, willing to mentor and connect you with the right people if they see the potential.

I recently met with the head of the Theater, Film, and Digital Production department (i.e. Rickerby Hinds) and he spoke to me about their goals to expand the program and somewhere down the line even offering graduate film programs (e.g. in film production). This past quarter they shot two student films and the students were mentored by and shot the films with Dean Cundey. They also recently hired Patricia Cardoso the director of the film Real Women Have Curves. I was fortunate enough to take a class with her during my last quarter and she is currently my mentor.

I guess what I am trying to say is yes, the film programs are still fairly new and growing but the opportunities are there if look for them and work for them. I was recently accepted to Chapman for their MFA in Film and Television Producing and will be attending in the fall. If UCR offered a program like the one at Chapman, I totally would have gone but unfortunately, they don’t yet. I am the type that believes a degree is just a piece of paper and success ultimately comes down to the person with the degree. I’ve known people that have graduated from widely recognized universities that are currently unemployed and people who went to schools that aren’t widely recognized who are doing well.

Like you say I think this is a very personal decision and I think both schools would be great options. I guess I just wanted to give you an insiders perspective of what the screenwriting/film programs are like at UCR. Good Luck!
 

FirstTimer

Member
UCLA
I kid you not, this is what it comes down to. Before you berate me for even considering to pass up UCLA for UCR, especially for the film school, let me explain the situation.

UCR offers a screenwriting MFA that is partially funded. They gave me a fellowship that pays tuition, health insurance, and a generous stipend for the first year (total package is almost 25K). Also my parents live in Riverside and assured me my housing would be taken care of, as well.

Like an idiot, I did not apply to scholarships or grants for UCLA. The acceptance letter mentioned students in recent years received between 7K and 10K of funding, but that is not guaranteed. While the tuition is relatively inexpensive for film school, I just discovered the MFA includes a 10K fee for the professional certificate program. Not to mention, I would have to pay another 12K or so/year for housing. In total, I would need to budget around $38,000 a year to go to UCLA, and virtually $0 to go to UCR.

So, it looks like my decision comes down to a classic case of cost versus opportunity. UCR would not provide me the same access to the industry as UCLA, nor the same quality of instruction; but it would not balloon my student debt, either.

What do you all think? I know it will come down to personal values, as in all big life decisions, but I'm wondering if there are other angles I missed? I hope you all get a kick out of this, at least. I sure did.
Hi, current student randomly dropping in here! My 2 cents: craft is super important, probably the most important, but so is networking and meeting people currently in the industry, because once you graduate, that's a big advantage in getting considered for jobs. If you graduate without knowing anyone in LA, it just means it'll take you some time afterwards (and time = money) to catch up later. But, it's a fair question and I'd never presume to counsel someone on a financial decision, since everybody's situation is so different/personal.

That said, my biggest recommendation would be to reach out to both campuses and visit their departments so you can get a sense of the differences in person before you decide! Good luck!
 

BuddernScotch

Active Member
AFI
Chapman
UCLA
Do we know that the 7k-10k is not guaranteed? Their use of the word "each" in that letter sure makes it sound that way. I'm also in a similar boat my friend :) and I will most likely pay the deposit on the first school and theb wait until april 15th to hear from UCLA's funding.
 

Naya86

Member
Hi, I actually just graduated with a Bachelors in Theater, Film and Digital Production with a concentration in Writing for the Performing Arts from UCR. I will start off by saying that their film program is fairly new but they are currently working on expanding. I went into UCR with a concentration in Film Production but switched to Writing for the Performing Arts. I switched because it was very difficult getting into the film production courses and my goal was to graduate in two years.

I’ll start off by saying that they have a great writing faculty. Stuart Krieger, Robin Russin, Rickerby Hinds, Charles Evered are all part of the Writing for the Performing Arts faculty and they are amazing. Professor Krieger also teaches the screenwriting course for the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC. They are all very accessible, willing to mentor and connect you with the right people if they see the potential.

I recently met with the head of the Theater, Film, and Digital Production department (i.e. Rickerby Hinds) and he spoke to me about their goals to expand the program and somewhere down the line even offering graduate film programs (e.g. in film production). This past quarter they shot two student films and the students were mentored by and shot the films with Dean Cundey. They also recently hired Patricia Cardoso the director of the film Real Women Have Curves. I was fortunate enough to take a class with her during my last quarter and she is currently my mentor.

I guess what I am trying to say is yes, the film programs are still fairly new and growing but the opportunities are there if look for them and work for them. I was recently accepted to Chapman for their MFA in Film and Television Producing and will be attending in the fall. If UCR offered a program like the one at Chapman, I totally would have gone but unfortunately, they don’t yet. I am the type that believes a degree is just a piece of paper and success ultimately comes down to the person with the degree. I’ve known people that have graduated from widely recognized universities that are currently unemployed and people who went to schools that aren’t widely recognized who are doing well.

Like you say I think this is a very personal decision and I think both schools would be great options. I guess I just wanted to give you an insiders perspective of what the screenwriting/film programs are like at UCR. Good Luck!
Wow, you are just the person I needed to talk to! Thank you so much for stopping by, and I appreciate your thorough and sincere response.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Stuart Krieger on the phone and sitting in on Robin Russin's screenwriting workshop. From what I gather, the faculty are extremely accomplished, knowledgeable, and willing to help students significantly improve their writing. I have no doubt I will be able to grow under their guidance.

Lastly, I do agree with your point that a degree is just a piece of paper. After being underemployed for the two years after my graduation (Bachelor's in Literature with a concentration in Writing), I perhaps understand the worthlessness of a degree all too well. However, I am still pursuing an MFA for the opportunities to improve my writing and gain connections to players in the field. At the end of the day, UCLA will be better suited to helping me find a footing in the industry, but will it be enough to justify the cost, especially when UCR is offering such a great deal? I'm not sure yet.
 

Naya86

Member
Hi, current student randomly dropping in here! My 2 cents: craft is super important, probably the most important, but so is networking and meeting people currently in the industry, because once you graduate, that's a big advantage in getting considered for jobs. If you graduate without knowing anyone in LA, it just means it'll take you some time afterwards (and time = money) to catch up later. But, it's a fair question and I'd never presume to counsel someone on a financial decision, since everybody's situation is so different/personal.

That said, my biggest recommendation would be to reach out to both campuses and visit their departments so you can get a sense of the differences in person before you decide! Good luck!
Thank you so much for dropping those 2 cents! They are appreciated :)

I also agree that networking and meeting people in the industry is paramount. In the last year, I have ready five books on screenwriting and written two features, but my career has not taken off. I really need to meet people who can help me find a job. That is a big consideration for me, personally.

Thanks for the feedback and congratulations on your acceptances. Wow, those are some big schools to decide between!
 

Naya86

Member
Do we know that the 7k-10k is not guaranteed? Their use of the word "each" in that letter sure makes it sound that way. I'm also in a similar boat my friend :) and I will most likely pay the deposit on the first school and theb wait until april 15th to hear from UCLA's funding.
They also said "in recent years", which tells me in past years people could have gotten nothing. Plus, no one online really mentions funding. So we shall wait and see.

By the way, LMU sounds like a really good choice. Have you checked out their new Playa Vista Campus? It looks amazing!
 

FirstTimer

Member
UCLA
Thank you so much for dropping those 2 cents! They are appreciated :)

I also agree that networking and meeting people in the industry is paramount. In the last year, I have ready five books on screenwriting and written two features, but my career has not taken off. I really need to meet people who can help me find a job. That is a big consideration for me, personally.

Thanks for the feedback and congratulations on your acceptances. Wow, those are some big schools to decide between!
Thank you! Yeah, and visiting the different departments was how I was finally able to make one last year :)
 

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