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

truffleshuffle

Active Member
Supporting Member
NYU
USC
I emailed USC admissions about not receiving an interview invitation and THEY JUST SENT ME AN INTERVIEW INVITATION. THANK THE HEAVENS. 😇
Wow, congratulations!

I wonder if this tactic would work with getting accepted:
"Hey, you guys didn't accept me yet."
"Our apologies, Good Sir. Sending now."
*Welcome to the Fall 2020 cohort of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Masters of Arts program in Cinema Studies. Your demonstrated love of writing lengthy, cited, critical essays makes you a perfect fit in our...*
WAIT WAT? NOOOOOOO
 

sa96

Member
I emailed USC admissions about not receiving an interview invitation and THEY JUST SENT ME AN INTERVIEW INVITATION. THANK THE HEAVENS. 😇
Congratulations! Wow, good on you for emailing them! Is the interview invitation from a professor or someone from admissions?
 
@USCSCAAlumni/Faculty thanks so much for doing this and speaking reason into our manic panic lol... lame question, but should we start receiving admissions decisions this weekend?
The truth is - even the admissions committee does not know when decisions are released. I'll explain. After we make our decisions, your applications are sent to scholarship committees and the USC general admission's committee (who is capable of overriding our decision should they have reason). After both the other committees are finished with their portion of the work, then applicants are notified. This timeline varies greatly every year.
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
Supporting Member
USC
The truth is - even the admissions committee does not know when decisions are released. I'll explain. After we make our decisions, your applications are sent to scholarship committees and the USC general admission's committee (who is capable of overriding our decision should they have reason). After both the other committees are finished with their portion of the work, then applicants are notified. This timeline varies greatly every year.
Thanks for taking your time and answering our questions.

I also wanted to ask about the approach to evaluate a candidate. Is there anything special about the USC in particular when in comes to the decisive factors? Smth that makes SCA different from other schools. I heard, for instance, that GPA is not that important as for NYU admissions committee. Is this a myth? What USC professors are looking for in their applicants in the first place? What can be a decisive factor when candidates are considered almost equally deserving an admission? How does USC resolve a tough choice?
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
Supporting Member
USC
I also heard that every year SCA is trying to hold a certain balance between the X students and Y students. Like, for a simple instance (first thing that comes to my mind), admission's committee may try to keep balance between the students who wants to make comedies and the students who wants to make horrors and so on.
 
Thanks for taking your time and answering our questions.

I also wanted to ask about the approach to evaluate a candidate. Is there anything special about the USC in particular when in comes to the decisive factors? Smth that makes SCA different from other schools. I heard, for instance, that GPA is not that important as for NYU admissions committee. Is this a myth? What USC professors are looking for in their applicants in the first place? What can be a decisive factor when candidates are considered almost equally deserving an admission? How does USC resolve a tough choice?
While I cannot comment on what other schools look for, I can tell you for us that GPA means much less than your ability to transmit character, emotion, and story creatively and effectively throughout your essay. Applications that tend to do well simply move us like a great film. They make us want to meet that person, have them in our class, help them succeed. These tend not to be the applications that aim to elicit sympathy and filmic passion (ie the ones that center on why you like film, why attending SC is important to you, what you're leaving behind, etc...) but rather the ones that present an element of life from a strong and unique perspective.

We also love people who are more than filmmakers. It's special for us when we see someone who has lived a unique or exceptional life and is seeking the opportunity to harness their experiences into the world of film. The funny thing is, most people have lived unique and exceptional lives, they just don't necessarily know how to frame it as such (and therein lies your greatest value as an applicant IMHO - how you frame your world).

There is no consistent decisive factor when candidates are perceived as equally deserving. The decision to choose one candidate over another can be anything from the makeup of the class as a whole (as we take pride in assembling a diverse group of students who can learn from each other), to small details in an application.

Here's the insider secret: what you want, is to not be in the part of the pile where we're comparing you. What you want is for your application to be so dominant that we MUST take you regardless of others. These applications are few and far apart, BUT my best advice to give you on how to be that person is this: for your personal statement write something that should be published. Write something that the reader will UNDENIABLY find meaning and entertainment in (regardless of whether or not they know you, care about you, or are interested in film). Write something that, if you were to read it in a magazine, you'd want to subscribe to that magazine! Much easier said than done, but we get them. And when we do, we will fight to have you in our class.
 
I also heard that every year SCA is trying to hold a certain balance between the X students and Y students. Like, for a simple instance (first thing that comes to my mind), admission's committee may try to keep balance between the students who wants to make comedies and the students who wants to make horrors and so on.
There's no truth in that. We just want great storytellers regardless of genre.
 

OzymandiasVII

Member
Supporting Member
USC
There's no truth in that. We just want great storytellers regardless of genre.
While I cannot comment on what other schools look for, I can tell you for us that GPA means much less than your ability to transmit character, emotion, and story creatively and effectively throughout your essay. Applications that tend to do well simply move us like a great film. They make us want to meet that person, have them in our class, help them succeed. These tend not to be the applications that aim to elicit sympathy and filmic passion (ie the ones that center on why you like film, why attending SC is important to you, what you're leaving behind, etc...) but rather the ones that present an element of life from a strong and unique perspective.

We also love people who are more than filmmakers. It's special for us when we see someone who has lived a unique or exceptional life and is seeking the opportunity to harness their experiences into the world of film. The funny thing is, most people have lived unique and exceptional lives, they just don't necessarily know how to frame it as such (and therein lies your greatest value as an applicant IMHO - how you frame your world).

There is no consistent decisive factor when candidates are perceived as equally deserving. The decision to choose one candidate over another can be anything from the makeup of the class as a whole (as we take pride in assembling a diverse group of students who can learn from each other), to small details in an application.

Here's the insider secret: what you want, is to not be in the part of the pile where we're comparing you. What you want is for your application to be so dominant that we MUST take you regardless of others. These applications are few and far apart, BUT my best advice to give you on how to be that person is this: for your personal statement write something that should be published. Write something that the reader will UNDENIABLY find meaning and entertainment in (regardless of whether or not they know you, care about you, or are interested in film). Write something that, if you were to read it in a magazine, you'd want to subscribe to that magazine! Much easier said than done, but we get them. And when we do, we will fight to have you in our class.
Thank you so much again for such a detailed answers
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
While I cannot comment on what other schools look for, I can tell you for us that GPA means much less than your ability to transmit character, emotion, and story creatively and effectively throughout your essay. Applications that tend to do well simply move us like a great film. They make us want to meet that person, have them in our class, help them succeed. These tend not to be the applications that aim to elicit sympathy and filmic passion (ie the ones that center on why you like film, why attending SC is important to you, what you're leaving behind, etc...) but rather the ones that present an element of life from a strong and unique perspective.

We also love people who are more than filmmakers. It's special for us when we see someone who has lived a unique or exceptional life and is seeking the opportunity to harness their experiences into the world of film. The funny thing is, most people have lived unique and exceptional lives, they just don't necessarily know how to frame it as such (and therein lies your greatest value as an applicant IMHO - how you frame your world).

There is no consistent decisive factor when candidates are perceived as equally deserving. The decision to choose one candidate over another can be anything from the makeup of the class as a whole (as we take pride in assembling a diverse group of students who can learn from each other), to small details in an application.

Here's the insider secret: what you want, is to not be in the part of the pile where we're comparing you. What you want is for your application to be so dominant that we MUST take you regardless of others. These applications are few and far apart, BUT my best advice to give you on how to be that person is this: for your personal statement write something that should be published. Write something that the reader will UNDENIABLY find meaning and entertainment in (regardless of whether or not they know you, care about you, or are interested in film). Write something that, if you were to read it in a magazine, you'd want to subscribe to that magazine! Much easier said than done, but we get them. And when we do, we will fight to have you in our class.
Great post! Thank you!
 

truffleshuffle

Active Member
Supporting Member
NYU
USC
Great post! Thank you!
Has this ever happened here before? I feel like our year is incredibly lucky with @USCSCAAlumni/Faculty. I don't think I've ever seen in previous years an actual member of the USC Faculty and Admissions Committee descend from on high to address us quivering mortals directly. It is akin to the User bestowing divine knowledge to Tron:

Tron.jpeg
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
BU
Has this ever happened here before? I feel like our year is incredibly lucky with @USCSCAAlumni/Faculty.
I don't think so. It sure is great to have them here. Great information. It's somewhat of what I already knew from all the years but it's great to hear it again so succinctly.
 
Has this ever happened here before? I feel like our year is incredibly lucky with @USCSCAAlumni/Faculty. I don't think I've ever seen in previous years an actual member of the USC Faculty and Admissions Committee descend from on high to address us quivering mortals directly. It is akin to the User bestowing divine knowledge to Tron:

Lol. Look, I know what it's like to be in your seats. It's nerve-wracking and you feel like your hearts and dreams are anchored to pieces of paper while a group of strangers who've no idea who you are judge you and decide your futures. I remember checking that camel link 10000 times a day. I remember getting rejection letters. It's rough.

I hope that in me being here, you understand that we care for and appreciate the people who we can't accept, and (for those who plan on applying again in the future) I may hopefully help enable you to show us your best self.

And when decisions are released, I'm happy to talk with any accepted students about advice for the program, ways to pay for it, whether or not it's a good decision for them personally to attend, fears, tips, etc...
 

addik

Active Member
Supporting Member+
USC
Lol. Look, I know what it's like to be in your seats. It's nerve-wracking and you feel like your hearts and dreams are anchored to pieces of paper while a group of strangers who've no idea who you are judge you and decide your futures. I remember checking that camel link 10000 times a day. I remember getting rejection letters. It's rough.

I hope that in me being here, you understand that we care for and appreciate the people who we can't accept, and (for those who plan on applying again in the future) I may hopefully help enable you to show us your best self.

And when decisions are released, I'm happy to talk with any accepted students about advice for the program, ways to pay for it, whether or not it's a good decision for them personally to attend, fears, tips, etc...
Thank you so much for all your help and for your understanding! It's great, at least, to know that someone in that panel also knows what we're going through!

Also, I just remembered this question from a few weeks ago, I was wondering if you had any answers for it? Thanks!

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
 

emiliafilms

New Member
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!
I wrote my personal statement in the form of an imaginary interview between myself and a newscaster talking about one of my short films; figured it would be more interesting to read than a regular essay. Do you think using an unconventional format will hurt or help my chances at admission?
 
Thank you so much for all your help and for your understanding! It's great, at least, to know that someone in that panel also knows what we're going through!

Also, I just remembered this question from a few weeks ago, I was wondering if you had any answers for it? Thanks!
As far as letters of rec, there's two types that I think can speak for a candidate.

The first is one that is highly personal. It doesn't just "recommend" a candidate but presents an entirely new side of them that we didn't get from the rest of the application.

The second that can have a little more impact is if it's from someone in the industry. Sometimes, they're a little better at speaking to your skills as a filmmaker than say your boss at the retail shop you work in.

In general, letters of rec have much less of an impact than every other area of your application. As long as they seem honest, you probably won't be judged severely on them. I've never seen one that's gotten an applicant accepted, but I have seen some negative ones that have kept them out!
 

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