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USC Film and TV production MFA Spring 2021 Applications

Tammy

Member
Hi, anyone who is applying USC on spring 2021 MFA can discuss here. :) BTW it is June 20th already but USC SCA still haven't opened their spring 2021 application yet. Are they not gonna accept new students because of the Coronavirus?
 
If you’ve ever done film before, the whole first year is a waste of time taught by adjunct professors. Think “this is three point lighting”. If you know nothing about film, it will serve you well, but it’s definitely not a professional program based on my experience so far. Also the program lacks faculty diversity and often times administrators are at odds with students and favoritism is rampant. One professor which I will not name said that I made a mistake coming to USC since so much of it is BS. If you’re on a full scholarship then do it. If you’re going into debt for this then I would caution you against coming.
 

Tammy

Member
If you’ve ever done film before, the whole first year is a waste of time taught by adjunct professors. Think “this is three point lighting”. If you know nothing about film, it will serve you well, but it’s definitely not a professional program based on my experience so far. Also the program lacks faculty diversity and often times administrators are at odds with students and favoritism is rampant. One professor which I will not name said that I made a mistake coming to USC since so much of it is BS. If you’re on a full scholarship then do it. If you’re going into debt for this then I would caution you against coming.

Thank you, I will consider your suggestion. Do you ever think about transfer to UCLA or NYU? Or maybe AFI? I saw you applied AFI before.
 

Swissapp

Member
I disagree completely with what the person above said. Yes USC is pretty pricey but the relationships I got from it and the opportunities are things I can’t even put money on.
The “adjunct professor” that taught me my first semester was a former Blumhouse producer that helped me get my first internship and then the same thing happened my second semester in 508 when my professor helped get me in touch with people at CAA. USC is what you make it and everyone has a different opinion but I can say - for me, it’s been my best decision.
 

soybean

Member
Hi, I'm a current MFA student at USC.
Completely agree with @MildTabasco.

Unless you have full ride it is 100% not worth it, a waste of your time. The only thing I learned from being here is what I DON'T want to be as a filmmaker. You are surrounded by people who can't really give constructive feedback because in America you have to be patted in the back all the time, don't know the term "aspect ratio" and call it the "squishy" thing instead, make sub-par script only to be praised for 'trying', and so on.

I'm not American and I sent a script to my producing professor for a production class, and his only comment was: "You should check with someone who speaks English to fix your grammar."
My other friend was there and she, an American, was also taken aback by this comment. I didn't take offense though. I brought the script to my screenwriting friend and he found nothing wrong with my script. That professor left the same comment to my friend who is from China but this time in class table-read session. He didn't even say anything about the story. She was pretty offended but didn't know what to do because most of the faculty are very unreliable.
(This same professor also gave me an advice about funding an independent project, and I quote, "You should find funding from your home country because people would understand it more there." Like, sir I-)

I really mean it when I say the faculty is very unreliable. During these COVID-19 times, many people ask for at least partial refund since we were forced to return equipment mid-way through and the projects are cancelled. At least refund the insurance money. And MFA students mostly have to support themselves- so during one zoom conference with faculty, people brought this issue up and became very vulnerable by opening up about their financial situation yet the head of the department only said, "It is. It is saddening." I know this situation is very new for everyone but at least have compassion and be understanding?

I have so many other stories about the glorified 'collaboration' method USC brags about but I don't think it's appropriate to put this online. Will be glad to answer any questions via personal message though.

And a little heads-up, in addition to your tuition you will have to pay your own production and your films will be owned by USC. To submit to festivals, you have to deal with administration to 'release' this film and they have control over where it's released to. On top of that, your first camera is going to be Canon XC-15, then FS-5 in second semester. With $18,000 for tuition every semester, I'm sure you can make higher production value films if you allocate that money to rent better equipment for your OWN film.

So yes, absolutely attend if you are new to filmmaking, this place might be for you. But if I were you, spend your money in filmmaking books (Save the Cat, Syd Field's Screenplay, Rabiger's Directing the Documentary, etc) and invest the same amount of money you took out for tuition to make actual films, and discipline yourself. The only thing you get from going to school is having actual deadlines that force you to be discipline, but who would want to make 3 half-assed films in a semester that you will not be proud of when you can make one that you can own and is thoroughly developed?

Travel, see the world, it costs the same if not less, find stories everywhere, get into film communities to get feedback or even befriend USC students, they all want jobs and will straight-up bandwagon if you have a good story.

To end this note, I would like to quote the head of production department himself,
"It is. It is saddening."
 

LMNOP

Member
Thank you for the write-up. Yikes, yeah that sounds terrible. Sorry for your experience, I would be turned off too. You were in the MFA program?
 
To be fair to swiss app, you will get connections at school and if you are lucky and talented enough, you’ll be able to get opportunities. At the end of the day, if you are low income, I would not recommend coming, since it’s possible you will leave with crippling debt and that’s a lot to gamble. If you have scholarships or rich family that are willing to pay, then more power to you, but keep in mind, you’re dropping enough to put a down payment on a house in a mid-tier American city.
 

soybean

Member
Hi @Tammy

Every film school will have its own problem. You just have to think about the amount of money you put in and really research the details such as ownership of film, the equipment you will get, etc. In the end, what you actually need is a community that can give you proper feedback (not just a pat in the back for doing bare minimum), for me it's more important than just mere connection to higher-ups or big production companies. Also, always keep in mind that having an actual GOOD film is worth more than any degree.

Attend open days as well, it is very useful. During COVID-19 most open days are online. I live half across the world so I could not attend UCS's open day and they did not even have online open day, so I feel very misinformed.
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
Honestly unless you are getting a full ride, usc is not worth it. It’s plagued with problems and their marketing saves them.
Unless you have full ride it is 100% not worth it, a waste of your time.

Very interesting posts. Quite shocking to me however as I've heard the exact opposite from people over the years while running this site as well. Everyone had different experiences though so thank you so much for sharing.

Can you both write a review for the program for the site on the page below? It'll be very helpful to our members to have have all perspectives and opinions.

USC Cinematic Arts - Film and Television Production (MFA)

USC Cinematic Arts - Film and Television Production (MFA)

MFA students learn in the most state of the art facilities rivaling the most advanced production companies in the world. You'll hone your talent...

Your points about money are very good. I don't advise going into heavy insane debt for film school. I went to an expensive school for undergrad (BU) but it was thankfully low cost to me as family worked for a different part of the school. Of my peers in the film program my year.... Definitely less than 50 percent (possibly way less than that) are still in film from what I can tell.... And they still owe all that money.

Of course that's a risk with a lot of degrees.
 

soybean

Member
@Chris W

Yea absolutely, everyone has different experience. All I'm saying is, for that amount of money that you spend for education, it's just not a very good investment.

A lot of the classes are also a money grab scheme. You are obligated to take 6 critical studies credit classes for MFA production, which I think is very important. But a lot of my friends with undergraduate in film studies, don't even get to waive this for reasons as disgusting as, 'those classes you took in undergrad aren't up to USC standard.'

It's a joke for me because the classes they offer for critical studies are like Nolan & Villeneuve studies lol. (not even joking, it's a real class this summer). They're great filmmakers but they don't even have classes on say Tarkovsky, Herzog, Welles, so why do they think USC classes are of higher standards and force film studies grads to retake these pointless classes for $2000/credit? That's $12,000 you can't waive even though you've done film studies before because your undergrad education of other important and historical filmmaking is not as good as Nolan critical studies they're teaching.

Something to think about.
 
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Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
Christopher Nolan & Villeneuve studies lol. (not even joking, it's a real class this summer).
Really? I guess that could be a neat class but only in addition to studying the classics. Studying the OG classics and great directors that people may not be familiar with would seem more valuable to me.
 

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