USC School of Cinematic Arts Recommendation Letter questions

BigAbe00

Member
As someone who plans on applying to this program in two years time, I'm living vicariously through you guys. I wish you all the best of luck!

What kind of letters of recommendation did you guys get? What's a good way of approaching these letters? Thanks xxx
 

addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
Normally, I'd say go for industry people you've worked with (and from whom you can assure a good recommendation), but having a professor who holds an important position (like the dean) might hold equal sway.

Also, I think it may also depend on your application. I had the dean from my alma mater and a producer I've closely worked with sign my recommendation letter. For my third reference, I was supposed to get an award-winning playwright who was my professor in writing drama, but he went AWOL 2 days before the deadline, and I was forced to find someone who was available. Luckily, the director of a non-government organization I volunteered in agreed to do a recommendation letter for me--and it kinda fit because I wrote about working with the organization for one of my collaboration essays, so that might have helped.
 

BigAbe00

Member
Normally, I'd say go for industry people you've worked with (and from whom you can assure a good recommendation), but having a professor who holds an important position (like the dean) might hold equal sway.

Also, I think it may also depend on your application. I had the dean from my alma mater and a producer I've closely worked with sign my recommendation letter. For my third reference, I was supposed to get an award-winning playwright who was my professor in writing drama, but he went AWOL 2 days before the deadline, and I was forced to find someone who was available. Luckily, the director of a non-government organization I volunteered in agreed to do a recommendation letter for me--and it kinda fit because I wrote about working with the organization for one of my collaboration essays, so that might have helped.
Thanks a lot! This was very helpful. Would you suggest that the person know me personally well? I'm an intern script reader for a Toronto production company and I'm considering asking my boss (the script distributor) but our relationship is strictly business and she hardly knows me on a personal level.
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
Supporting Member
USC
As someone who plans on applying to this program in two years time, I'm living vicariously through you guys. I wish you all the best of luck!

What kind of letters of recommendation did you guys get? What's a good way of approaching these letters? Thanks xxx
I've sent three of them. Two of them from the CEO's of video production companies, who I worked for as a director assistant on a volunteer basis just to receive an experience of working on set. And the third one I got was from a professor of the University from which I graduated a year ago. Even if it was not a film-related program, a teacher or a professor may mention your interest in any projects that required you to manage a team or be creative or any other things that may in theory help you understand what it is like to direct.
 

addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
Thanks a lot! This was very helpful. Would you suggest that the person know me personally well? I'm an intern script reader for a Toronto production company and I'm considering asking my boss (the script distributor) but our relationship is strictly business and she hardly knows me on a personal level.
I think it would be great if she can speak for your professionalism and willingness to collaborate. You can always ask someone who knows you more personally for your other references (especially if that person is a professor or someone of authority).
 

sa96

Member
So I went a different route and went for mentors/professors I have personal relationships with. Two of my references were undergraduate professors (I did not study film so they were English/Media professors) - one I have remained close with since graduating and who has guided me in applying to schools, making my first short film, and finding film opportunities in my hometown.

The second professor holds important/impressive titles at my university and is an award-winning published author. However I must add that I picked him because of my relationship with him rather than anything else. I took a 25 person seminar course with this professor in my 4th year of undergrad and he marked my thesis. I also sought out his guidance in applying to grad school so we have a personal relationship and he knows what drives me, how I work with others, and what my creative work is like.

My last recommendation letter was written by the head of programming at a local film festival in my hometown. This person is a close and invested mentor to me. He’s a local writer-director who led the production program in which I made my first film. When applying to film school, we had an hours long conversation about my dreams, motivations, why I want to be an artist and what in my life led me to this.

I felt it was important to pick people who had directly handled my creative/critical work and knew my goals, motivation, and potential. I will say though that all 3 of us have gotten interviews at USC so there is no magic formula (it appears) for recommendation letters. Lastly, I will add that the people I had more of a personal relationship with took more time to tailor my letters to each school I applied to vs. the professor who was super busy with the important/impressive titles.
 
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