Who to ask for letters of recommendations (MFA screenwriting)

michaellearner

New Member
I am applying to all the top MFA screenwriting schools. I was a neuroscience major in college and I minored in screenwriting. I have been working in consulting since graduating (2 years).

My plan was to ask one screenwriting professor who I have a close relationship with and then two of my bosses in consulting who I also have close relationships with.

My concern is that it might not look good that two of my recommendations are coming from people who do not really know me as a writer or as an artist (even though I do expect that they will have great things to say about my work ethic, creativity, etc.)

What do you guys think?
 

Chris W

Willem was robbed
Staff member
will have great things to say about my work ethic, creativity, etc
Those two are key for sure. I think knowing someone has drive and is creative is very important and valuable to a school. You're going to go to the school to hone your skills as an artist and those are great building blocks.

I think that's fine.
 

Manwitch

Member
The beauty of recommendations is that they can only really help. If your writing portfolio is weak, a glowing recommendation will tilt the scales in your favor and if it's very strong, a flaccid recommendation is unlikely to keep you out of the running. My advice is to ask people who know you, regardless of their area of expertise, and seeking corroborators who can add to the cohesion of your overall submission and complete a sense of who you are.
 

Kira

MFA TV Writer @UCLA
Staff member
FilmSchool.org Writer
My concern is that it might not look good that two of my recommendations are coming from people who do not really know me as a writer or as an artist (even though I do expect that they will have great things to say about my work ethic, creativity, etc.)
I think it is totally fine having recs from non-screenwriters & creatives! One of mine was written by a wonderful literature professor. That being said --- will your two bosses say the same thing about you? Repeat that you are hardworking and diligent? Is there someone else who could perhaps provide another perspective?

When I picked out my people, I got one from the lit professor, one from my screenwriting prof, and one from a current MFA Screenwriting student. I tried to vary up the perspective with lit professor talking about me as a student / hardworker / consider, screenwriting prof about my writing and potential, and MFA student with seeing me as a peer, good notes, etc.

Just some food for thought.
 

jonvaljon69

New Member
Supporter
This is a v helpful conversation! I am applying to a bunch of top MFA programs this Fall and have a similar challenge. Although I have an undergraduate BA in Creative Writing, I got it 13 years ago! I've had careers in English teaching and marketing since then and decided to dive back in to my passion.

My struggles:
1) The two professors who are still teaching at my undergrad college will surely NOT remember me, but I could reach out anyway. I read in this article that professors understand this since it's part of their job.
2) My other choices for recommendations are professional in nature, bosses and colleagues. My writing at those jobs was very business-like, but they could speak to my collaborative and professional skillset, and my personality.

I'd be curious to hear how things worked out, @michaellearner ? Did you use your professional relationships for recommendations? How did it go? Hope you got in 🤞
 

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