The film production and entertainment industry is a thriving and fast-evolving field. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs for filmmakers will increase by 29 percent in the next 10 years. If you are wanting to join this lucrative career field, the first thing you should know is how to get into film school.
In this article, we will be breaking down simple steps and guidelines to help you get into your dream school. We will also provide helpful tips and cover the common film school requirements for admission. Discover how to get accepted to film school below.
How Difficult Is It to Get Into Film School?
It is not exactly difficult to gain admission to an average film school, but if you want to attend a prestigious institution it will be quite competitive. Film schools have tons of applicants every year. As a result, they have strict admission standards and will have portfolio requirements on top of standard application requirements.
You have to be an extremely qualified applicant with a well-prepared portfolio to gain admission to top schools. For instance, the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, the top film school in the nation, is said to have a much lower acceptance rate than USC’s overall acceptance rate of 12 percent. Though acceptance statistics for the film school itself are difficult to find.
Most film school applicants stand a better chance at mid-ranked schools. For instance, ArtCenter College of Design has an acceptance rate of 60 percent, and Loyola Marymount University has an acceptance rate of 50 percent.
Common Film School Requirements
- Cinematic arts personal statement. Your personal statement should be a 1,000 word essay that captures your personality, uniqueness, and passion for film. Some schools will also provide guidelines on writing a good personal statement.
- Writing samples. This is usually a non-dialogue text of a maximum of two pages. It is a great opportunity to showcase your creativity and demonstrate your potential to be a great filmmaker.
- Visual sample. This usually means a showreel or photos of projects you’ve been on to demonstrate your visual storytelling skills. It should be between five to 10 minutes.
- Creative portfolio. Your portfolio is an artistic resume that should showcase the best projects you’ve worked on with specific references to your roles or contribution to the project. You can include any kind of project such as simple stories, documentaries, and animation projects.
- Letters of recommendation. Most schools require recommendation letters from people in a professional and reputable position such as a teacher, employer, mentor, or just anyone you’ve worked with, or for, on a creative project. The letters should speak to your skills, work ethic, and passion for film.
- Proof of English proficiency. International students may need to complete a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or Pearson Test of English (PTE) examination as an admissions requirement.
How to Get Accepted Into Film School: A Step-by-Step Guide
Understanding the admissions requirements for your target schools is a great place to start as it helps you to take actions that will make your application stand out. Next, you should learn about the application process and how to get accepted into film school. Below are a few steps that you can take to successfully apply to film school.
Step 1: Get Valuable Experience in Film
One foolproof approach to demonstrate that you have the necessary talent to succeed in the film industry and in film school is to get experience making creative films. Start practicing filmmaking if you don’t have any experience. If you have outdated or redundant projects, work on new ones.
You can start with short films and amateur promo videos. Just keep them short and powerful. You’ll improve as a filmmaker by doing this and your chances of getting into film school will be higher. Plus, whether you’re applying for film school or not you need to put out work to grow as a film professional.
Step 2: Take Film-Related Courses
To prepare for film school, you can take a drama or acting class. Classes like this may not be necessary for admission to film school or the department you want to focus on, but it will broaden your perspective. Plus, having knowledge of different parts of filmmaking help you tell stories better and stand out from candidates with the limited knowledge of a single department.
When it comes to applying to film schools, everything that broadens your horizon and makes you more adaptable is a plus. Mastering the art of storytelling and having knowledge in various aspects of film production will help you in the application process.
Step 3: Acquire Technical Skills
Most people get carried away by their raw talent and begin to think that it is all they need. Contrary to that idea, prospective students need to do research and put in work to develop and refine their talent into a skill. Even if talent could potentially get you fame in the real world, film school requires that you have the skills surrounding the technicalities of filmmaking
Step 4: Research the Best School for You
Search and compare different film schools to find several choices that will work best for you. You may want to check out the specific film majors the school offers as well as the kind of classes and faculty the school has.
Step 5: Send in Your Film School Application
Having understood the specific requirements of your target school, fill in the online application form and send in your school transcript, resume, portfolio, visual sample, and recommendation letters.
Once you have done everything you can and submitted an application, you will need to wait for an admission decision from the school. It usually takes a while to get a response from the admissions committee so you have to be patient.
How to Choose the Right Film School
The right film school is relative and personal as each individual will have their own specific needs and expectations for studying film. In order to choose the right school for you, determine a specific area of focus you want to study and your general reason for going to film school. Some general factors to consider include location, cost, prominent alumni, community, and additional educational resources provided to students.
Top Tips for Getting Into Film School
- Be authentic and confident. Be yourself and bring your personality to the table. Show that you are confident in yourself. Show that you are meant for the film profession and let your creative ideas shine through.
- Develop strong skills. It is important to develop strong technical skills in filmmaking if you want to be admitted to film school. Though you are applying to school to learn more, you should at least have the basic skills already covered.
- Show that you are well-rounded. The best applicants have more than raw talent. They also have a good academic history. In fact, academic performance might be the deciding factor for who gets accepted into the program, especially when the competition is high.
- Practice interview questions. Do some research online to find common film shool interview questions as this helps you be more prepared with your answers. Having an idea of the questions in advance will help you ensure that you give good responses.
- Learn to express yourself effectively. Your talents and artistic abilities are a crucial part of the admission process. However, you also need to learn how to communicate your ideas effectively. You have to be able to use your voice to express your individuality and how it distinguishes you from other applicants.
Will I Get Accepted Into Film School?
As long as you meet the requirements of the film program you apply to, you have a decent chance of getting accepted into film school. To increase your chances of being accepted, put serious work into building an impressive portfolio that showcases a wide range of skills. This will help your film application stand out amongst other candidates.
Is Getting Into Film School Worth It?
Yes, film school is worth it because attending a film program has many benefits such as being in a film community that pushes you towards your goals, opportunities to practice film projects, and professional experience. You will also gain extensive knowledge of film theory and a certificate of completion which is highly recognized in the industry.
Some film professionals may argue that you don’t need to earn a film degree to succeed as an actor or a filmmaker. While this may be true in some cases, it can be a much more difficult road to a successful career.
How to Get Into Film School FAQ
Yes, you can. Even if you did not take any film courses previously or during an undergraduate degree you can still gain admission into a film school if you can prove that you have relevant experience in the field of film you are interested in.
Yes, in general, film schools are more expensive than other degree programs. More private four-year universities cost thousands of dollars per semester. However, whether you attend a top school or a mid-range will greatly affect how much you will pay for your studies.
Of course, many film schools offer courses to distance learners. You can earn an online film degree at the undergraduate or master’s level in any specialty of your choice. You can also attend certificate programs online.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that film and television directors earn an annual salary of $76,400. This is significantly higher than the average salary for all occupations.
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