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Preparing to Apply to Graduate Film School

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch•updated: 5/27/2010

Are you applying to film school? Here is a look on what you should be doing to make yourself attractive to graduate film school admissions departments.

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    Almost to Graduate School

    Graduate film school is the most project oriented form of film school so that up and coming directors and producers can make a career out of creating their own work. Most of these graduate film programs are prestigious and difficult to make your way into. This is going to be especially true if you are coming very closely out of your undergraduate program. So if you want to remain competitive with other applicants, you have to prepare yourself in a professional way right from the start. Here is a look at some ways you can prepare yourself for the film school application process so as to hit the top of the pool.

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    Technical Skills

    The most important thing you can do before going to graduate film school is learn how to make films. Film schools are looking for candidates that they know will be successful in their program and in the industry so as to add more prestige to their alumni list. To show this to them, you have to have quite a bit of effective skills in your portfolio and list of technical skills. Take a focus in your undergraduate on video and film production classes so that you have actually produced projects. This will allow you to both apply with a host of technical skills and a video production portfolio that will blow the admissions department away. Try to get as much technical skills as possible by taking classes in video editing, raster imaging, web multimedia, and all other computer based departments that are essential to professional film production. See if you can come in with Final Cut Pro certification and knowledge of how to use Photoshop, After Effects, Avid, Motion, and details about video formats and compression. Try to work with as many cameras as possible, as well as different types of audio equipment and platforms.

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    Extracurricular Activities

    Take these skills and employ them in campus activities as often as possible, which will be well regarded when filling out film school applications. All of these things can add experience for your resume and prove to the admission councils that you can use your skills in a practical setting. This is going to be very important in executive and creative positions, so aim to have a directorial position in a campus community. Technical skills are going to be important, but they do understand that you are not going to be at a professional level before you get into their graduate program. Instead they want to see that you can actually engage a creative vision, so try to be involved with campus television, publications, and theatrical groups.

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    Film Industry Internships

    The most important thing you can have on your resume when applying to graduate film school are film and video internships. A film industry internship, especially at a major company, is going to be defining for outlining your fervor, your experience, and your ability to sell yourself. Film internships are not as hard to achieve as many people believe. Most schools will have career offices that can aid you in getting internships in your area, even in the film industry. If you school has an art, journalism, or other program that deals with film and video, then they have likely already made connections with film internships of different sorts. You can supplement this by looking on your own at places like Craig's List and Mandy.com. Many major studios, such as Time/Warner and Fox, offer internship programs in the film or television departments. These film internships will set you up for a term of interning, and this can be indispensable to admissions departments.

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    Writing

    The ability to write is going to be crucial for preparing your graduate film school applications, especially in an essay and story telling format. Try to take coursework in both creative writing and English or Journalism. This will help your ability to recognize and develop story structure and prepare essays discussing your mission and personality. Any screenwriting courses that you can take will also be incredible as this is a major part of most graduate film school applications.