Over the past few months I have received many questions about the application process for USC. When I applied, I was so nervous and stressed that I spent over a month working on the application. So I applaud those who have contacted me - this means you are giving yourself enough time to make the application perfect!
Here are some questions:
Do I need experience to apply?
Not necessarily! I came into the program with 4 years of experience working in the industry but many of my classmates had never even picked up a camera. It is very important to simply show your desire to tell a story - show your desire to be a part of this industry.
I wrote about my experience in my internships as well as personal endeavors that involved my camera - such as recording myself screaming on the Great Wall of China! Others wrote about how they incorporated movies into their specific jobs. A good friend of mine spent the last few years in the Army in Iraq and hosted a screening in Saddam Hussein's personal theater. An amazing story!
What should we say in our personal statement?
Pour your heart out on that piece of paper. Let your personality shine through. When we all got here, we realized NONE of us was exactly like the other. We all have amazing stories of how we got where we are today. Be humble. Tell them why you want to join an industry that is cut-throat and demanding all while in a failing economy. Tell the truth -- this is your dream we are talking about.
What are the class sizes like? Do you get individual attention?
In our first year, we have both lecture classes and regular classes. You are with everyone in your semester during that time. The lecture classes have about 50 people -- again' everyone that got accepted with you. The other classes have no more than 17 people each. These are the writing and production classes. The professors work with you as a class and then break you up into smaller groups and work with you that way. Always ask questions - that's the best way to get individual attention.
What if I do have experience?
The first year is a leveling ground. Everyone learns the same thing and then branches off to focus on directing, producing, sound, etc. So if you come into the program with some knowledge, you may feel like the course is slow moving. But soon the curriculum will catch up to you and you will be challenged.
Is it worth going to film school? Especially the expensive USC?
This is a toughie, because it is completely up to you. I personally was very hesitant to apply; but now that I'm here, I could not imagine doing anything else. I just had my 1 year anniversary of receiving my acceptance letter. I celebrated by attending a filming on the CBS Lot and partying at a Gary Sinise Lot party. Yes - a good night - I will blog about that soon!
You go to USC for the alumni, the name, and your peers. They call us the USC Mafia - and it's true - we protect each other. These people are my family and we help each other out.
In a matter of 7 months, I have built my reel exponentially. I have 4 solid films under my belt that I would have never created had I stayed in North Carolina. I am shooting the 5th one this weekend. I also am getting a clearer understanding of what I want to do in the industry. USC helps you narrow that down. Their courses are taught as if you are in the actual industry - demanding deadlines, permits, release forms, budgets, crew, union rules - and more!
Go to film school if you are not entirely sure what it is you love about this little thing called moving pictures. Go to USC if you are willing to be in a ton of debt yet have the best film school attached to your name.
Okay I got in -- Now what?
Film school is what you put into it. By no means are you set once you get into school. Stay focused. Keep working - even harder now. USC gives you the tools - it is your job to use them right.
There you have it! Do you have any more questions? Post them below and I will respond in a blog post.
Thank you for your questions!