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Yes, I did. They apparently made their decisions on April 10, and I received both an email and phone call on the day. I also received a letter from the department today, which mentioned that a letter from the University will follow in a couple of weeks. Now that is what I call thorough!

I am now in the process of deciding where to go next fall.

I have been accepted to 7 schools (MFA programs), and managed to cut down my choices to two: UCLA and Columbia.

I have a few concerns regarding UCLA, and would really appreciate it if anyone who's been there could help:

1. UCLA's policy is to train production students in all aspects of filmmaking (with strong emphasis on technique).
I think this is a great way to ensure a well-rounded education. However, as a writer/director I believe narrative is key, and the skills I would like to develop are directing actors and writing. I'm afraid that I might be spending too much time being taught technical skills.

2. What are some of the achievements of recent UCLA grads? I see NYU and Columbia students winning top awards at major festivals, but no so many from UCLA. Am I missing something?

3. How much exposure does the school offer students -- specifically on the festival circuit and for finding jobs?



Just out of curiousity what were the 7 schools? I also applied to 7 and was just wondering if there was any crossover :). One thing to note about Columbia is that all first and second year work is done on DV, so if you like doing film I'd pick UCLA. Additionally, UCLA has 21 people whereas I think Columbia accepts 65+ so in my opinion UCLA has more professor/student interaction. However, a friend of mind recently told me that there is alot of political stuff going on at UCLA and that they are trying to absolve the directing program. I do not know the truth to this, however, so do not take my word.

Finally, I was wondering if you could give me a brief overview of your experience? Are you a recent undergrad? Did you have extensive film experience? Thanks!


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The 7 Schools are: UCLA, Columbia University, CalArts, Columbia College Chicago, University of Miami, Ohio University and San Francisco Art Institute. How about you?

Yes I am aware of the DV policy at Columbia and am still trying to figure out if it is an advantage or disadvantage. It will be one of the deciding factors in figuring out which to choose.

As for the number of people accepted, you should bear in mind that UCLA admits 21 students into the Film Production program alone, with another number of students admitted into the Screenwriting and Producers program. Whereas Columbia admits 65 students who then choose their concentrations as Directors, Producers and Screenwriters during their second year. In other words, the numbers are not all that different, though they might initially seem to be.

What is this about political stuff and them "absolving" the program? Do you have any further details? I heard nothing of the sort.

I am not a recent undergrad. I've been out of college for 8 years and have a PhD in Architecture. But filmmaking has always been my thing! I wouldn't say I have extensive experience, but have made a few shorts and am working on a feature screenplay.

Wow. 7 programs, good thing your decision seems like it'll be a little easier to make for you. I was accepted at Columbia last year and regretted not going a little bit and I went to the UCLA Professional Program for Screenwriting last year and I know a few people in both the production and screenwriting MFA at UCLA.

If you're from California, you can't beat the price of UCLA and really quickly you'll find that there's just so many ways to use the industry in Los Angeles even if you want to make “art” films like the do at Columbia. You'll meet people who work in post houses, camera houses, PAs who can make you a million DVD copies of your shorts in the studio production room, you'll get student discounts on film, you'll have soooo many actors that are dying to just act (the actor of my short film paid for half the budget of the film as a producer just so we'd shoot it, it got me into AFI)”¦you can really make UCLA be whatever you want it to be, but I hate Westwood with a passion and I really believe that being in the right community is a big part of being a filmmaker”¦.

But Columbia is in f'ing New York”¦and if you're a New York person, you're a New York person”¦and over the past few years it really does look like Columbia's storytelling focus has really been paying off and the films the students are making are going to play well in film festivals”¦but then again, I know a few filmmakers out here in LA who never even submitted anything to a single festival”¦they did they're shorts and moved on to commercial specs, than onto music videos”¦a good story will knock them dead at a festival, a good visual short is going to knock an agent or producer over when they're watching at their desk on a little television”¦

I really think in the end film school is what you make of it”¦I actually really like Columbia Chicago too”¦Chicago kicks ass and Columbia has such a HUGE undergrad department, you'll get a job second year and you'll get out with almost zero debt”¦
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That's good advice. I am an international student, so that means New York and Los Angeles are just as likely (or unlikely) choices in terms of location and distance. I do happen to prefer the former though, it's simply a much more exciting place to be in terms of culture. And as an architect it just can't be beat.

Except maybe by Chicago. I visited most of these schools, and Columbia College really stood out with its superb newly-renovated facilities. The faculty seemed very professional too.

The only catch for me is that Columbia College does not offer anything in terms of "cachet." I know that sounds shallow, but I just feel that New York and Los Angeles are the centers of their respective film industries (independent and Hollywood respectively), while Chicago is neither here or there.

Anyway, to get back to the point. Between Columbia University and UCLA, but am somewhat partial to UCLA (ask me 5 minutes later and I might feel differently). The main reason is that I feel it offers the most rounded education (not just among the 7, but among ALL schools I researched) and that it is unique in that it is at the doorstep of the industry while maintaining a strong independent vibe.

As for the focus on storytelling, I know that Columbia University is famous for that but recent grads of UCLA tell me that Advanced Screenwriting courses are open to Production majors. The school also happens to have a world renowned Directing Actors teacher in Delia Salvi.

Hmmmmmm..... I'm still a long way from making a decision, but I should within the next few days.


dear nichijin -

I do not know much about the politics at UCLA but a friend of mine who is a 2nd yr in the production program told me that I should be happy I didn't get in because of all these issues. Needless to say, I didn't get in.

To answer your other question I applied to: AFI, UCLA, USC, NYU, Columbia, Florida State and University of Texas-Austin.

Currently I am waiting on Florida State and Texas. I have been accepted to USC and was rejected by the rest. Congrats on UCLA and Columbia, its quite an acheivement!

Personally, I go to school at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and so naturally I love NYC and would prefer it to LA. I also worked at internships in both nyc and LA and still found NYC to be the greatest city on Earth (this also after studying abroad in Prague).

Good luck on your future decision, whatever you choose I am sure you can't go too wrong.

You might want to check out Film School Confidential (a book written a few years ago) it has some valuable information but is a bit outdated.


If you dont mind me asking, MiR and nichijin what were your stats to get into USC and UCLA? ( GPA, SAT..), because i want to see what my chances are or were your guy's portoflios very good? I hear USC doesnt accept portfolios, but instead they just want a list of projects.WTF?


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Posted April 18, 2006 12:12 AM
MiR --

Any chance you could put me in touch with your friend from UCLA? It would be nice if I could ask him a few questions directly. I have been doing that with a lot of current and previous students (none mentioned anything about politics).

I'm still torn between UCLA and Columbia, and am no closer to an answer. Except for a few lingering questions about the first, I feel I know the schools pretty well. We'll see.

Film Confidential was a great help, but yes it's outdated so I took everything in there with a pinch of salt. I also made it a point to visit most of the schools I applied to and speak to their students and faculty. Heck, I feel I can write a new edition of the book!

So will you go to USC?


New Member
Perry07 --

As an international student I never had to take the SAT's. Also, the school I last went to (University of Tokyo, Architecture) is on the letter system. I had an A average.

You're right, USC does not require or accept a portfolio and neither does UCLA. In fact the material UCLA asks for is even less (just a personal statement and story idea).

However, I did get the chance to submit a portfolio during the interview.

Hope this helps.


Hoeks- I did not study at FAMU, I studied at PCFE for a semester. Do not go there or reccomend it to anybody, it is a wanna be NYFA but worse. They just want your money. Though I did have a few teachers from FAMU, particularly one Michael Gahut - he was awesome, I think you mentioned having him once.

Perry07- I had a 3.5 at Cornell University, and a 1400 on the GRE. I've made 3 16mm films, written 5 short screen plays, and one feature length screenplay (for Honors consideration).

As for USC's portfolio list, it might have actually helped me seeing as how my actual films didn't get me in anywhere but USC. I assume the breadth of my experience helped vs. the quality of my work (at least for USC). I did work as an intern for Warner Bros and a postproduction house in NYC, so I had some experience but none after college which I think has been my greatest detriment. Had I been a few years removed from college I think I likely would have stood a better chance at some of the schools I applied to.

Nichijin- I am not sure if I will go to USC, I am still waiting on FSU. FSU seems to have about the same quality of equipment/resources at USC, just without the networking connections. However, FSU is very very cheap (and I'd get in-state tuition-though I'm not from Florida) and they pay for all film, processing costs--3 16mm films and 1 35mm thesis film (if your chosen). The perks of FSU will weigh heavily against the repuation of USC, we'll see what I decide but first I need to get in :).

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