rainydays

Well-Known Member
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Hi everyone!

I was just accepted it both USC's Film Production MFA and Chapman's Directing MFA and I'm extremely grateful as I have absolutely no experience in film. However, I'm at a complete lost on which one would be best for me. I've included my pros/cons below for each, and if anyone could share their experience at or knowledge of either school so I can see if my list is accurate or not I'd really appreciate it 😭 Each school has the same amount of pros and cons so to my eyes they come out even and so I feel like I'm stuck. I've also done a ton of research, so any first-hand experiences would be really appreciated too! 😁 Also if there is a better forum to post this question I can definitely move my post there!

(Also I know the location is a pro and con for both and it seems like a contradiction, but it's because I want to be in LA for the opportunities but am nervous because I'm not used to being in the city and the high cost of rent/living).

USC
Pros:
1. More general program, I can learn to do more things (hoping to write/direct, work with tv, and teach someday. basically want to learn a little of everything. I'm confused about how the "tracks" I read about in some reviews work though)
2. Larger/older institution, so more students and alumni and a more concrete infrastructure
3. Better internship/job opportunities
4. In LA
5. Ranking (though I'm trying not to focus too much on that)

Cons.
1. The area (I'm not used to living in the city)
2. Films are self-funded
3. Don't own films
4. Not everyone makes a thesis film
5. Less access to good equipment

Chapman
Pros:
1. Everyone makes a thesis.
2. Films are funded
3. Own films
4. State-of-the-art equipment
5. Cheaper living costs

Cons.
1. Not in LA (longer commute for jobs)
2. Not as generalized of a program
3. Newer program, so not as many alumni and less students
4. Not as established of a internship/job network
5. Ranking

Tie: Cost
I'm not sure overall which one is less expensive, since Chapman has higher tuition but less "hidden" fees and USC has lower tuition but films are self-funded and more "hidden" fees.
 
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Hey! Congrats on getting into both USC and Chapman!

I think most people on this forum will probably go with USC. If I had to choose between the two, I'd pick USC, too. I guess it depends on a number of factors. Are you receiving any scholarships from USC or Chapman? As you mentiond above, USC's MFA in Film is a more well-rounded degree (so you'll write, direct, edit) whereas Chapman's directing track is specifically meant for those that want direct/become directors.

USC
- Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about owning your own film. Most student films are not that great haha.
- Great campus, but the surrounding area is a little sketchy. And LA traffice SUCKS! And parking anywere in LA is a nightmare (it's either metered parking or valet)
- The Trojan mafia is everywhere in LA


Chapman
- One of my instructors went to Chapman and received his MFA in directing. I think he told me alums have a lifetime access to using film equipment. Not sure if this is still the case, so I'd check with someone who is currently a Dodge alum.
- Chapman is located in old town Orange (think Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls)
- Orange County is not as densely populated as LA, so traffice is not as bad. Cost of living is slightly cheaper.
- Yeah, the commute can be brutal. But if you're interning like 1 to 2 days throughout the week, it's not so bad.

Hope this helps!
 
Hey! Congrats on getting into both USC and Chapman!

I think most people on this forum will probably go with USC. If I had to choose between the two, I'd pick USC, too. I guess it depends on a number of factors. Are you receiving any scholarships from USC or Chapman? As you mentiond above, USC's MFA in Film is a more well-rounded degree (so you'll write, direct, edit) whereas Chapman's directing track is specifically meant for those that want direct/become directors.

USC
- Personally, I wouldn't worry too much about owning your own film. Most student films are not that great haha.
- Great campus, but the surrounding area is a little sketchy. And LA traffice SUCKS! And parking anywere in LA is a nightmare (it's either metered parking or valet)
- The Trojan mafia is everywhere in LA


Chapman
- One of my instructors went to Chapman and received his MFA in directing. I think he told me alums have a lifetime access to using film equipment. Not sure if this is still the case, so I'd check with someone who is currently a Dodge alum.
- Chapman is located in old town Orange (think Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls)
- Orange County is not as densely populated as LA, so traffice is not as bad. Cost of living is slightly cheaper.
- Yeah, the commute can be brutal. But if you're interning like 1 to 2 days throughout the week, it's not so bad.

Hope this helps!
Thanks so much for your response! I haven't heard anything back about financial aid from either school.


I've read a couple comments from people across sites that there is an opportunity to take a few screenwriting/tv writing classes as part of the Film Production degree, but I was wondering where you heard it from/if you found that info somewhere other than me haha? I'm very happy to hear it though! Thanks again for your response, your comment is really helpful! 😊
 
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I've read a couple comments from people across sites that there is an opportunity to take a few screenwriting/tv writing classes as part of the Film Production degree, but I was wondering where you heard it from/if you found that info somewhere other than me haha? I'm very happy to hear it though! Thanks again for your response, your comment is really helpful! 😊
So my friend attended USC's MFA Film Production thinking she wanted to be a director, but midway through pivoted to TV writing. And now she's a TV writer. Another friend did the same program knowing he wanted to be a producer. And now he's in development, which makes sense. I'm thinking USC might be a better fit for you because you have zero film experience. Like I said, it's a more well-rounded program so you'll eventually learn all aspects of filmmaking. If that's what you want, then USC is the way to go.

As for Chapman - If you want to be a director and that's your priority, then go for it!

Good luck!
 
So my friend attended USC's MFA Film Production thinking she wanted to be a director, but midway through pivoted to TV writing. And now she's a TV writer. Another friend did the same program knowing he wanted to be a producer. And now he's in development, which makes sense. I'm thinking USC might be a better fit for you because you have zero film experience. Like I said, it's a more well-rounded program so you'll eventually learn all aspects of filmmaking. If that's what you want, then USC is the way to go.

As for Chapman - If you want to be a director and that's your priority, then go for it!

Good luck!
Omg this comment is EXACTLY what I needed to hear thank you so much 😭 I've always been torn between directing/writing movies and tv writing (was rejected from the usc screenwriting progam that I applied to just to be safe lol). Thank you again 😊😭
 
You have any input for these following threads?


 
I don't know much about the second thread but I'll share my thoughts about Chapman on the first!
 
Check out our new LONG interview with the Chapman Film School Admissions department:

How to get into Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts: Tips from the Department of Admissions (Part 1)

How to get into Chapman's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts: Tips from the Department of Admissions (Part 1)

Rising to number 4 on The Hollywood Reporter's annual rankings of the top 25 American film schools in 2022, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University offers top-notch filmmaking courses in an intimate learning environment. Notable alumni include the Duffer brothers...
 
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