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Getting Into Film School

Make your film school application stand out with these five tips.
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How to Apply to Film School

clapperboard operator on film set

It's a good idea to have a general idea of what admissions officers are looking for in a film school applicant.

While every film school has unique requirements, preparing for some of the standard admissions hurdles can help boost your confidence as you go through the process. Finding ways to make your application stand out can also help your chances at more competitive schools.

Here are five tips to help you focus in the right direction as you explore how to get into film school:

1. Express yourself effectively. Communication is key.

It's not enough to have great ideas or artistic vision. Film schools want students who can communicate in a clear, compelling way. Learn the art of storytelling. Learn the technical aspects of language and grammar. You don't need to be a screenwriting expert. That's why you're going to film school. However, admissions reps want to see that you're able to write. If writing isn't your strong suit, take a class or two.

2. Become well-rounded. You need more than raw talent.

It might be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that academics don't have anything to do with your creativity or aptitude for a filmmaking career. And you may be right, at least in part. Nevertheless, grades matter. Especially when spaces in prestigious film schools are limited and competitive, your academic performance will be a factor in whether you make the cut. So, words to the wise: don't coast through chemistry class just because you don't think you'll use it later.

3. Speak for yourself. Film schools want to hear your voice.

You have life experience and something to say. You'll bring your own unique perspective to the film school that is lucky enough to have you. And that's exactly what film schools want to see. What sets you apart from other applicants? What's your story? Embrace life experiences. They can make your stories richer and deeper. Travel to faraway places, or get involved in your own community. If you don't think you have anything to say, film school admissions representatives won't either.

4. Practice makes perfect—and a strong film school applicant.

There's one sure way to prove that you have the talent to make it in film school and the film industry. Start filming. Tell lots of stories. They don't have to be feature length—just five to ten minutes will do. You'll become a stronger writer, director or cinematographer, and you'll be a stronger film school applicant. Whether or not you'll need to submit samples of your work with your film school application, it can only help you to have something to show for yourself.

5. Get ready for your close-up. Take an acting class.

Take a turn on the other side of the camera. Enroll in acting classes. It may not be a requirement for getting into school, but it will broaden your perspective. It can also give you insight on how to be a good director. Anything that makes you more well-rounded and versatile can only be an asset when it comes time to apply to film schools.

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Filmmaking Degree & Career Guide