Ucla Tft Personal Essay Sample

How do you write the perfect personal essay for film school?  Admissions experts at Forster-Thomas have the answers.

By Justin Marshall

USC film school calls it a Personal Statement.  So does NYU Tisch.  To UCLA, FSU, and the University of Texas, it’s a Statement of Purpose.  It’s a Narrative statement at AFI, an Artist’s Statement at CalArts, and an Autobiographical Essay at Columbia University.  Whatever the name and regardless of length (anywhere from 500 words to six pages), the personal essay is one of the most common application documents MFA film programs request for admissions.  

What few realize is that it’s also the single most important item you’ll submit. Richard Walter, professor and co-chairman of UCLA’s MFA Screenwriting program, told me: “The single best way to get into our program is to give us a great statement of purpose—one that’s personal and well written.”

Surprised? Sure, filmmaking experience is an important element.  So are good grades in college. And if you have a strong reel, that absolutely increases your chances of getting in.  But the personal essay is king for three key reasons:

  1. It sheds light on how you think. OK, you have a good GPA and a killer music video under your belt. But do you have the life experience, maturity, and unique voice necessary to tell a career’s worth of amazing visual stories? Are you capable of working in a fundamentally collaborative process? Do you have the tenacity of spirit to survive the film industry? These are all crucial qualities, and the personal essay is the only opportunity you have to showcase them.
  2. It puts your reel into perspective. In the personal essay, you can explain the influences behind the films on your reel, what you were trying to say, and what you learned through the creative process. If we understand what you were going for, we will appreciate your films more.
  3. It tells the school if you’re the right fit for their program. USC wants Hollywood players. CalArts wants artists. NYU wants something in between. The personal essay allows you to explain which one you are—and why.

If you want a cheesy analogy, think of the personal statement like an online dating profile or a personals ad (don’t act like you’ve never read them). If you’re looking for true love, a couple of cute photos and a matching Zodiac sign aren’t going to cut it. You want to know that you’re compatible at the core, from musical tastes to hobbies/interests to political views. The personal essay does just that: it shows the school the person behind the images.  It allows you to communicate who you are and how you think.  It’s where sparks fly and true compatibility emerges. And at the end of the day, as good as your reel might be, the schools aren’t admitting a film to a program; they’re admitting a person to their program.  So use the personal essay to showcase who you are—the real you.

Now that you understand what the personal statement is and why it’s so important, read Part 2 of this blog, where I provide three do’s and don’ts for writing the personal essay.

Read more on our MFA Film School consulting process or request a free candidacy assessment.

--Justin Marshall

 

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About the Program

For freshmen, the Bachelor of Arts in Film and Television is a four year program consisting primarily of two years of general college studies and two years of major coursework. The Department of Film, Television, & Digital Media (FTVDM) admits new students only once each year for the Fall Quarter.

About Applications

Together, all of the application materials will provide the admissions committee a clear and compelling picture of who you are. The application materials should include your significant life experiences, your most important personal traits and greatest strengths, your special creative talents, your values and goals in life, and your vision for the kind of work you hope to pursue.

An applicant should demonstrate a strong liberal arts and humanistic education, exceptional literacy, outstanding communication skills, and unique creative ability. Prior experience in film and television is not required.

We do not accept films, DVDs, or CDs.

Applicants must submit all required application materials to be considered for admission.

UC Application Deadline: November 30, 2017

Freshman Supplemental Application Deadline: December 7, 2017

Click Here for an Application Worksheet and More Detailed Instructions on How to Apply

Please complete all of the following steps:

Step 1: UC Application

Step 2: Supplemental Application

  • Complete the TFT Undergraduate Supplemental Application.
    • Must be completed ONLINE by December 7, 2017.
    • A supplemental application fee of $20 will be required.
    • Create an account with Acceptd.
      • Note: This is not the same login used for the UC Application.
    • Complete all required information.
    • Indicate areas of interest within Film.
    • Upload Supplemental Materials
      • Personal Essay (2 page max).
      • Life Challenge Essay (2 page max).
      • Writing Sample.
        • Critical Essay (3 page max).
        • or
        • Creative Writing (5 page max).
    • Submit Two Letters of Recommendation.
      • Enter the Names and Emails of all recommenders into the TFT Undergraduate Supplemental Application.
    • Upload Unofficial copies of all Transcripts.
By the time of entrance, Freshman Applicants must:

UC Application Deadline: November 30, 2017

Freshman Supplemental Application Deadline: December 7, 2017

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

For more information on requirements and applying to UCLA as an International Student, visit http://www.admission.ucla.edu/prospect/intl.htm.

FAFSA

For U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents interested in receiving financial aid in the 2018-2019 year, note that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) deadline for UCLA is March 2, 2017. Applicants must complete the FAFSA by this date if they want to be eligible for all awards, work-study, and scholarships that UCLA offers. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities. www.financialaid.ucla.edu

DREAM Act

For non-US Citizens or non-Permanent Residents who are approved to pay in-state tuition because they graduated from a high school in California; they will need to complete the California DREAM application by the March 2, 2017 deadline. The DREAM application can be accessed at https://dream.csac.ca.gov. If applying after March 2, please check with the Financial Aid Office for available funding opportunities. www.financialaid.ucla.edu

If you have any additional information, call 310-206-8441, or email filmundergrad@tft.ucla.edu.

**Please do not contact the department to check on your application, as we cannot update you on your application status or materials.

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