USC School of Cinematic Arts SCA MFA Film & TV Production Fall 2020

sa96

Active Member
At times, the interview had me wondering whether or not he had carefully reviewed my application.
A little part of me felt the same way with my professor at first as well. I think because they read so many applications, they try to categorize and classify them in some way to remember them. It sounds like your interviewer cared about the kind of stories you want to tell though – I don't know if they would bother with that if they didn't think you had stories worth telling!
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
USC
Yes, Roma and I were both interviewed by Mark, who was very direct. I found the interview to be tough, although I was happy that I kept my composure. Zero questions about my portfolio, except for the opening line of my film concept. I think some aspects of my portfolio made it seem like I was mostly interested in making films about repressive Catholic upbringing, and he expressed some doubt about how overdone that narrative subgenre is, and that I'd have to find a new perspective on it. I worried afterwards that I had been pigeonholed into that category of filmmaking, even though very little of my portfolio was about that topic. At times, the interview had me wondering whether or not he had carefully reviewed my application.
wow, sounds like that was tough really. So questions were awkward? And how in the end did you manage to avoid being categorized?
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
USC
A little part of me felt the same way with my professor at first as well. I think because they read so many applications, they try to categorize and classify them in some way to remember them. It sounds like your interviewer cared about the kind of stories you want to tell though – I don't know if they would bother with that if they didn't think you had stories worth telling!
True as well. I think if they took their time to speak with you they should have carefully examine everything you submitted before (and after?) the interview. No need to worry I guess
wow, sounds like that was tough really. So questions were awkward? And how in the end did you manage to avoid being categorized?
I mean I felt that I did not provide a proper answer on one of the questions about collaboration so I decided to reach out to the professor via email briefly clarifying some things (and put some questions about the program also). I did not receive any answers though and I’m pretty sure that my message won’t affect anything but at least I did everything I could. I wish I could have clarify myself during the interview but the damage is done. I guess it’s ok if we’re not perfect
 
wow, sounds like that was tough really. So questions were awkward? And how in the end did you manage to avoid being categorized?
I tried to emphasize my willingness to learn and collaborate, as well as some of the films and filmmakers that have influenced me - I mentioned these things because I was also trying to establish my youth as an asset instead of a liability, since he also seemed concerned that I was a relatively young applicant (I'm 22). I don't feel badly about the interview, though; in hindsight I appreciate his honesty.
 
Hi All! So long since I've been on here. Wanted to check in and see if it was still active. I owe a lot to this site. Here's my story...

I applied to USC's MFA production program four times before I got in. On the fourth time, everything change when someone I met on this site (who'd been admitted to USC) offered to share their application with me. I realized from viewing their work, my mistakes as far as how I was approaching my application. On my fourth try, I was accepted with scholarships.

Fast forward many years and I now have a career in the film industry in addition to being faculty and a member of the admissions council for SCA.

The reason I've decided to post on here is because there's so much of the admissions process that can be misunderstood or mysterious, but it shouldn't be. Had I understood it more, it may not have taken me as many attempts as it did. If I can help you understand how to put your best foot forward, then it's possible we may end up recognizing your talent rather than losing the opportunity to have you as part of our family.

Especially those of you who are rejected this year but planning on applying again, feel free to ask me what you'd like to know. I can't promise I'll be able to answer all your questions, but you're welcome to respond to this message with inquiries and, if it is permissible for me to reply, I'll do my best.

Good luck everyone! We look forward to all the new talent!
 

123321

New Member
Hi All! So long since I've been on here. Wanted to check in and see if it was still active. I owe a lot to this site. Here's my story...

I applied to USC's MFA production program four times before I got in. On the fourth time, everything change when someone I met on this site (who'd been admitted to USC) offered to share their application with me. I realized from viewing their work, my mistakes as far as how I was approaching my application. On my fourth try, I was accepted with scholarships.

Fast forward many years and I now have a career in the film industry in addition to being faculty and a member of the admissions council for SCA.

The reason I've decided to post on here is because there's so much of the admissions process that can be misunderstood or mysterious, but it shouldn't be. Had I understood it more, it may not have taken me as many attempts as it did. If I can help you understand how to put your best foot forward, then it's possible we may end up recognizing your talent rather than losing the opportunity to have you as part of our family.

Especially those of you who are rejected this year but planning on applying again, feel free to ask me what you'd like to know. I can't promise I'll be able to answer all your questions, but you're welcome to respond to this message with inquiries and, if it is permissible for me to reply, I'll do my best.

Good luck everyone! We look forward to all the new talent!
I've noticed from previous years' stats that there are people getting accepted without interview, which really made me feel confused, Could you explain how interviews work in the admission process? Is getting a interview a prerequisite for getting accepted?
 
I've noticed from previous years' stats that there are people getting accepted without interview, which really made me feel confused, Could you explain how interviews work in the admission process? Is getting a interview a prerequisite for getting accepted?
An interview is not a prerequisite for acceptance. When a committee member reviews your application, they may want to talk to you for a large variety of reasons. Typically it’s because something in an application has peaked our curiosity and we want to know more about it. An interview does not imply that your application is being given any special treatment or preference.
 

sa96

Active Member
Hi All! So long since I've been on here. Wanted to check in and see if it was still active. I owe a lot to this site. Here's my story...

I applied to USC's MFA production program four times before I got in. On the fourth time, everything change when someone I met on this site (who'd been admitted to USC) offered to share their application with me. I realized from viewing their work, my mistakes as far as how I was approaching my application. On my fourth try, I was accepted with scholarships.

Fast forward many years and I now have a career in the film industry in addition to being faculty and a member of the admissions council for SCA.

The reason I've decided to post on here is because there's so much of the admissions process that can be misunderstood or mysterious, but it shouldn't be. Had I understood it more, it may not have taken me as many attempts as it did. If I can help you understand how to put your best foot forward, then it's possible we may end up recognizing your talent rather than losing the opportunity to have you as part of our family.

Especially those of you who are rejected this year but planning on applying again, feel free to ask me what you'd like to know. I can't promise I'll be able to answer all your questions, but you're welcome to respond to this message with inquiries and, if it is permissible for me to reply, I'll do my best.

Good luck everyone! We look forward to all the new talent!
Thank you so much for posting this and offering insight into the process! I don’t know if you are allowed to answer this but I would love some clarity on how the whole process works. As in what happens between the time you submit your
application on slideroom to when you get your decision status in youSC?
 
Hi All! So long since I've been on here. Wanted to check in and see if it was still active. I owe a lot to this site. Here's my story...

I applied to USC's MFA production program four times before I got in. On the fourth time, everything change when someone I met on this site (who'd been admitted to USC) offered to share their application with me. I realized from viewing their work, my mistakes as far as how I was approaching my application. On my fourth try, I was accepted with scholarships.

Fast forward many years and I now have a career in the film industry in addition to being faculty and a member of the admissions council for SCA.

The reason I've decided to post on here is because there's so much of the admissions process that can be misunderstood or mysterious, but it shouldn't be. Had I understood it more, it may not have taken me as many attempts as it did. If I can help you understand how to put your best foot forward, then it's possible we may end up recognizing your talent rather than losing the opportunity to have you as part of our family.

Especially those of you who are rejected this year but planning on applying again, feel free to ask me what you'd like to know. I can't promise I'll be able to answer all your questions, but you're welcome to respond to this message with inquiries and, if it is permissible for me to reply, I'll do my best.

Good luck everyone! We look forward to all the new talent!
Thank you very much for being generous with your time by offering to answer questions about the admissions process. I was wondering what you think are some common missteps that prospective students make during the application phase. You mentioned that you learned more about your own errors when you reviewed the application of an accepted student - what were your main takeaways? What did you improve upon or change on your application in response?
 
Hi All! So long since I've been on here. Wanted to check in and see if it was still active. I owe a lot to this site. Here's my story...

I applied to USC's MFA production program four times before I got in. On the fourth time, everything change when someone I met on this site (who'd been admitted to USC) offered to share their application with me. I realized from viewing their work, my mistakes as far as how I was approaching my application. On my fourth try, I was accepted with scholarships.

Fast forward many years and I now have a career in the film industry in addition to being faculty and a member of the admissions council for SCA.

The reason I've decided to post on here is because there's so much of the admissions process that can be misunderstood or mysterious, but it shouldn't be. Had I understood it more, it may not have taken me as many attempts as it did. If I can help you understand how to put your best foot forward, then it's possible we may end up recognizing your talent rather than losing the opportunity to have you as part of our family.

Especially those of you who are rejected this year but planning on applying again, feel free to ask me what you'd like to know. I can't promise I'll be able to answer all your questions, but you're welcome to respond to this message with inquiries and, if it is permissible for me to reply, I'll do my best.

Good luck everyone! We look forward to all the new talent!
Wow! Thank you so much for offering your insight! I would love to know what you did differently for your last application. What changes did you make? Also, if you're permitted to answer, how many people, on average, are interviewed for each term? How many people, on average, apply?
 
You mean literally everyone here? I can see 11 applications with “interviewed” status. I mean like how many professors can they really involve for only one program? 😮
My interviewee had said that she was only interviewing twelve applicants herself, and that she needed to narrow it down to 6 for referral 🙃
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
USC
An interview is not a prerequisite for acceptance. When a committee member reviews your application, they may want to talk to you for a large variety of reasons. Typically it’s because something in an application has peaked our curiosity and we want to know more about it. An interview does not imply that your application is being given any special treatment or preference.
I’m applying for the first time and I wanted to share my story as well.

I’m an international applicant that already has BFA and MFA degrees (in the communications sphere) but since I got Ukrainian diploma, I don’t know if the admission committee is interested in it anyway.

While studying in the University here, I worked on my own creative projects and always wanted to continue my career (or my studies) abroad. As a filmmaker, I worked on 4 different music videos that I shot for my songs off my own music albums (one of the projects was really large in scale - I directed working along with the team of more than 75 professionals). But in the last year (after the graduation) I worked on the short film, which I decided to direct specially to submit it as my visual sample. This film is 23 minutes long so I uploaded an excerpt (HERE it is and HERE is the full movie which I believe professor also watched because he asked questions about the scenes that weren't on the excerpt) and it is the most difficult project I worked on but it's fully reflecting me as an artist and what I want to do in the future (during interview professor asked a lot about the film but I don't know if it's a good sign)

Overall I did good during interview but I feel like during the conversation (since English is not my native language) I failed to provide proper answers on a few important questions. For instance professor asked my about how I can become a better collaborator and I answer that an honest communication with your team members is the key (but I did not answer clearly, actually I did not know what to tell at the time and started to speak a lot about what problems I had on set with my producers who were trying to sabotage my project pushing their actors and how I tried to manage to resolve this problem with communication only and I also said that it was a pleasure to work with my cinematographer because he was a good and talented guy who generated ideas and always acted in the benefit of the original idea), but in the end I felt like the answer was not convincing and professor was not quite satisfied with this part of an interview (so I am) and maybe I did not actually sound like good collaborator which is not true by the way (so I'm not the one who they want on their program now?). How do you think will it affect dramatically the final decision? I tried to reach out to professor via email and clarify myself (since he said I can write to him) but he did not answer and obviously damage was already made so not sure if I had to try to fix any mistakes.

My personal statement (which I also uploaded here along with all the other supplemental materials for everyone who's interested in other applications) is more philosophical and creative than conventional but it fully reflects the kind of filmmaker (and person actually) I am and what films I want to make in the future (existential horrors, indie movies etc.) and I am also really proud of my writing samples (so as everyone here I guess). Is this was a mistake to craft it this way?

USC is my first choice but I never mentioned it anywhere and I'm afraid that it could look for the admission committee like I do not need this opportunity too much and I concentrated more on what I have already done than on collaboration and learning processes that I require to become a better filmmaker (which is actually not true but the picture could have been already established)...

Sorry for my English guys!
 

Attachments

Qinyue Luo

Member
LMU
I’m applying for the first time and I wanted to share my story as well.

I’m an international applicant that already has BFA and MFA degrees (in the communications sphere) but since I got Ukrainian diploma, I don’t know if the admission committee is interested in it anyway.

While studying in the University here, I worked on my own creative projects and always wanted to continue my career (or my studies) abroad. As a filmmaker, I worked on 4 different music videos that I shot for my songs off my own music albums (one of the projects was really large in scale - I directed working along with the team of more than 75 professionals). But in the last year (after the graduation) I worked on the short film, which I decided to direct specially to submit it as my visual sample. This film is 23 minutes long so I uploaded an excerpt (HERE it is and HERE is the full movie which I believe professor also watched because he asked questions about the scenes that weren't on the excerpt) and it is the most difficult project I worked on but it's fully reflecting me as an artist and what I want to do in the future (during interview professor asked a lot about the film but I don't know if it's a good sign)

Overall I did good during interview but I feel like during the conversation (since English is not my native language) I failed to provide proper answers on a few important questions. For instance professor asked my about how I can become a better collaborator and I answer that an honest communication with your team members is the key (but I did not answer clearly, actually I did not know what to tell at the time and started to speak a lot about what problems I had on set with my producers who were trying to sabotage my project pushing their actors and how I tried to manage to resolve this problem with communication only and I also said that it was a pleasure to work with my cinematographer because he was a good and talented guy who generated ideas and always acted in the benefit of the original idea), but in the end I felt like the answer was not convincing and professor was not quite satisfied with this part of an interview (so I am) and maybe I did not actually sound like good collaborator which is not true by the way (so I'm not the one who they want on their program now?). How do you think will it affect dramatically the final decision? I tried to reach out to professor via email and clarify myself (since he said I can write to him) but he did not answer and obviously damage was already made so not sure if I had to try to fix any mistakes.

My personal statement (which I also uploaded here along with all the other supplemental materials for everyone who's interested in other applications) is more philosophical and creative than conventional but it fully reflects the kind of filmmaker (and person actually) I am and what films I want to make in the future (existential horrors, indie movies etc.) and I am also really proud of my writing samples (so as everyone here I guess). Is this was a mistake to craft it this way?

USC is my first choice but I never mentioned it anywhere and I'm afraid that it could look for the admission committee like I do not need this opportunity too much and I concentrated more on what I have already done than on collaboration and learning processes that I require to become a better filmmaker (which is actually not true but the picture could have been already established)...

Sorry for my English guys!
Hi. Thank you very much for your generosity of sharing this, which helps me to learn and reflect myself as an undergrad with dream of filmmaking. I haven’t got interview notification so far and I feel like I’m losing my hope day by day. I saw your strong passion and desire throughout your writings. I think you are very talented and I really respect that. Good luck to the final decision! I hope you will get in cause you are an excellent filmmaker. Btw, as an international student myself, your English is 10 times better than mine so don’t worry about it haha;)
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
USC
Hi. Thank you very much for your generosity of sharing this, which helps me to learn and reflect myself as an undergrad with dream of filmmaking. I haven’t got interview notification so far and I feel like I’m losing my hope day by day. I saw your strong passion and desire throughout your writings. I think you are very talented and I really respect that. Good luck to the final decision! I hope you will get in cause you are an excellent filmmaker. Btw, as an international student myself, your English is 10 times better than mine so don’t worry about it haha;)
Thanks so much for such a support. I hope we all become who we want to be, no matter now or next year, with or without USC. I believe that all we have to do is keep getting better as filmmakers and if we'll stay true to ourselves and our dreams, it will eventually come
 

addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
Thanks for sharing @OzymandiasVII! I will read through your statement if I have the time, but I can really see how driven you are towards film and philosophy (and I love that combination, especially coming from a university that required us to take many philosophy classes as part of their core curriculum)

I just want to say though that I think that feeling of "maybe I could have done something more" is pretty universal across the board :) There is no need to beat yourself over it. I understand speaking in English may not have been easy for you, but the fact that you showed up at your interview and did your best to explain yourself is already more than half the battle. Like I said before, more likely than not your professor took into account English not being your first language so he would have definitely asked for further clarification if he did not get your point :)

Also, coming from someone who already got rejected, yeah it sucks. But, life moves on. I'm sure if this doesn't pan out, more projects and opportunities to grow will come your way. That is precisely what I experienced after my rejection last year--I poured my heart and soul in to my application but I was rejected. I honestly didn't know what else to do to impress USC, because I thought I have done it all. But, the months leading up to this round of applications were filled with projects I was part of and opportunities that allowed me to grow. That's part of the reason why I wasn't that discouraged from submitting my application this year, and this time, I got an interview! I know it doesn't mean being accepted, but the fact that my application impressed my faculty member is more than enough to encourage me to keep trying even if I don't make it this year.

So yes, rejection sucks, but it's still always our choice to make do with what the cards have dealt us and never let it pin you down to the ground for long :)
 
Thank you so much for posting this and offering insight into the process! I don’t know if you are allowed to answer this but I would love some clarity on how the whole process works. As in what happens between the time you submit your
application on slideroom to when you get your decision status in youSC?
I am happy to answer anything that may help you improve your ability to create your best application. As far as our internal process goes, I won't get into too much detail on that (besides knowing won't help you improve your application). However, our admissions department may be willing to offer you more details about the process. You can always call them and ask!

What I will tell you is this. The committee is composed of faculty who will also teach you. It is not mandatory for us to be on the committee, so everyone who choses to be is truly interested in reading applications and forming the new class. After you submit, every part of everyone's application is read and evaluated in great detail. And yes, we review every application very thoroughly (in fact there is a system in place to make certain each one gets the proper attention)! If a committee member feels the desire to find out more about a particular applicant than the application conveys, they will interview you. Once we have a good idea of who all the applicants for that semester are, we do our absolute best to look at the pool as a whole and create a well rounded class.

Hope that helps a little!
 

sa96

Active Member
I am happy to answer anything that may help you improve your ability to create your best application. As far as our internal process goes, I won't get into too much detail on that (besides knowing won't help you improve your application). However, our admissions department may be willing to offer you more details about the process. You can always call them and ask!

What I will tell you is this. The committee is composed of faculty who will also teach you. It is not mandatory for us to be on the committee, so everyone who choses to be is truly interested in reading applications and forming the new class. After you submit, every part of everyone's application is read and evaluated in great detail. And yes, we review every application very thoroughly (in fact there is a system in place to make certain each one gets the proper attention)! If a committee member feels the desire to find out more about a particular applicant than the application conveys, they will interview you. Once we have a good idea of who all the applicants for that semester are, we do our absolute best to look at the pool as a whole and create a well rounded class.

Hope that helps a little!
That was really helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question, I really appreciate the insight ☺
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
USC
I am happy to answer anything that may help you improve your ability to create your best application. As far as our internal process goes, I won't get into too much detail on that (besides knowing won't help you improve your application). However, our admissions department may be willing to offer you more details about the process. You can always call them and ask!

What I will tell you is this. The committee is composed of faculty who will also teach you. It is not mandatory for us to be on the committee, so everyone who choses to be is truly interested in reading applications and forming the new class. After you submit, every part of everyone's application is read and evaluated in great detail. And yes, we review every application very thoroughly (in fact there is a system in place to make certain each one gets the proper attention)! If a committee member feels the desire to find out more about a particular applicant than the application conveys, they will interview you. Once we have a good idea of who all the applicants for that semester are, we do our absolute best to look at the pool as a whole and create a well rounded class.

Hope that helps a little!
I also got a question. What if during the interview I felt like I did not provide a convincing answer "what will make you a better collaborator"? The problem accused because it was quite difficult for me to formulate a proper explanation of my point of view? Then I decided to reach out to professor via email with some clarifications (and also a few questions about the program) but I did not receive any answer (but during the conversation he said I can reach out to him to ask anything). Is this a bad sign? How should I consider this?
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
I also got a question. What if during the interview I felt like I did not provide a convincing answer "what will make you a better collaborator"? The problem accused because it was quite difficult for me to formulate a proper explanation of my point of view? Then I decided to reach out to professor via email with some clarifications (and also a few questions about the program) but I did not receive any answer (but during the conversation he said I can reach out to him to ask anything). Is this a bad sign? How should I consider this?
I wouldn't read too much into this. They're probably very busy with teaching and interviewing.
 
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Thank you very much for being generous with your time by offering to answer questions about the admissions process. I was wondering what you think are some common missteps that prospective students make during the application phase. You mentioned that you learned more about your own errors when you reviewed the application of an accepted student - what were your main takeaways? What did you improve upon or change on your application in response?
Great question!

The most common missteps that I see tend to be found in the personal statement. It's the part of your application that is where we look to discover who you are - so make certain to show us! Here's what I can advise based on my experiences...

1) Don't write about what everyone else is writing about. Most of the personal statements resemble a cover letter. They focus on why the candidate wants to pursue film/what going to film school means to them/the internal debate and sacrifice of leaving their old life behind. Your application will pack a much more effective punch if it focuses on painting a detailed picture of you as an individual while displaying a unique approach to storytelling. It doesn't have to focus on film. It has to focus on you, and unless you're already an accomplished filmmaker (in which case you probably don't need filmschool) we don't expect film to be the crux of who you are!

2) Be "Personal." No topics are off bounds and no viewpoints are taboo. We want to know as much of the real you as possible. We're not trying to judge you as a person as much as we're trying to see if you know how to distinguish yourself and paint a well rounded character (that character being you).
- The admitted application I read when I was still applying was a story about the applicant discussing blowjob techniques with her gay friend. It was done in a way that showed she was open to being vulnerable, while telling a fantastic, ironic, and heartfelt story (in a very classy way believe it or not).

3) Make a "Statement." Be bold. Both in your content and the style to which you approach it. Don't just tell us how you see the world, Make us see the world how you see it. And there is no limit to the amount of creativity you should use in your approach!

4) Show us you're a story teller! Not every great essay is in the form of a story, but filmmaking is storytelling and showing us your capability doesn't hurt!
 

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