Film School Applicants

Film School, Applying to Film Schools, Film School Admission

If you want to work in the entertainment industry, film school may not be your best bet (photo credit: Padsquad19).

Film school applications are on the rise. In fact, according to the “New York Times,” at the University of Southern California, 4,800 film school applicants applied for fewer than 300 available slots. From USC to UCLA to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts to the University of Texas, there are a ton of applicants for very few slots. While the same is true at highly competitive colleges (film school or not) including Ivy League colleges, it makes sense for the demand to be high for an outstanding liberal arts education. It doesn’t make sense that the demand is so high to go to film school.

One does not have to go to NYU, UCLA, or USC to make it in Hollywood. One does not need to major in film or television at a school other than the aforementioned three. One doesn’t even have to take a film or television class in college! In fact, it may even help you in your film or television career if you steer away from studying film or TV in college! You may be wondering by now how at all this makes sense.

Rather than be like everyone else, wouldn’t it be nice to know something about American history…if your future company ends up developing an historic miniseries on New World explorers? What specialty does a communications degree lend you? And film? You can learn about film through on the job training. A college professor may be able to teach you about film noir and all of these fancy phrases you’ve never heard of but he/she may not know the intricacies of the feature film and TV development process. They’re not going to know that The CW is looking to buy less teenage and more adult dramas this coming development cycle. They’re not going to know that ABC will not buy a drama series set in the world of journalism. They just won’t.

The fact is, in order to succeed in Hollywood, you usually have to pay your dues. Are there exceptions? Yes. If well connected, you may not have to serve for years as an assistant to a Hollywood writer, producer, director, or executive. But most people just don’t have those connections and move to Hollywood chasing their dreams.

Many higher-ups in Hollywood actually look down on film school. They worked their way up from the mailroom (and then an assistant desk). And so, in their minds, should the next person. It’s only fair. Additionally, students often come out of film school arrogant and naive, thinking they know how to make great movies. In Hollywood, this kind of attitude doesn’t sit well.

That said, if your goal is still to gain admission to film school, nobody can be more helpful to help you gain admission to these programs than us. But we wouldn’t be doing our jobs right if we didn’t first let you know about other options that are out there for you! We’ll be exploring this topic again in the near future. In the meantime, for more information, check out our blog on The Ivy League and Hollywood.


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  • Filmmaker says:

    If you go to USC you are getting a liberal arts degree. You will have to take history, literature, science, etc. Are you guarenteed a job, no. Remember you are getting a bachelor of fine arts, just like the sculpting majors. You should only study film because you love it, not because you hope to make lots of money. If all you want is a great paying job, get a degree in computer science from a top college. Then you will have companies offering you hiring bonuses.

  • Ela says:

    Film school is not about learning the phrase “film noir”— it is about learning how to translate a story or idea onto the screen, and this happens through countless hours slaving on sets and making mistakes. It is also, most importantly, about learning to collaborate, and film school at a school like USC also surrounds you with the extremely talented people you will work with throughout your entire career. After a year and a half at SCA, I cannot watch a film without instinctually picking up details on the editing, cuts, sound design, framing, beats, etc etc. Could you do that without such experienced film professors, all who have been incredibly well known in the industry? Furthermore, film school at an incredibly respected school gives you connections and a network in the industry. This article shows how little you know about film and what little credibility you give to it as an artistic medium. I’m sure you would not tell a student looking to be a painter to skip art school and the countless hours of practice it would give them. Film, like any art, needs hours of work and instruction to be mastered. And any good film school recognizes the importance of the story— if you’re advising prospective film students, don’t tell them not to go to film school; instead, advise them to minor in other fields, travel abroad, and search for other interesting experiences on campus to fuel their stories. Of course there will be anomalies in any industry, but you shouldn’t go around telling prospective film students that they can just “break into Hollywood”— they’ll be sorely disappointed when they realized they in fact cannot and missed the opportunity to have a great film education.

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