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Wavering between applying to USC Screenwriting Program or the Film and TV Production program?

ucapplicant24ucapplicant24 1 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3 New Member
I've been looking at USC as my top prospect for applying to film school. As far as post-undergraduate vocation landing, which program caters better to a career in the entertainment industry: TV and Film Production or Screenwriting? I have heard the screenwriting program is even more selective than the overall production program. Does anyone have any idea why this is? Is it because the screenwriting program offers screenwriting internships?

Anyone who has knowledge of this is welcome to answer, USC student or not. Thank you very much!
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Replies to: Wavering between applying to USC Screenwriting Program or the Film and TV Production program?

  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11023 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    Both programs are very selective. But this is not a general statement but rather from the kids my daughter knows. My kid was a USC film graduate but her concentration was Critical Studies, which is slightly easier to get accepted.
    The Screenwriting kid got jobs and internships right away but I think on TV. The production kids that she knew also got jobs in the film industry but both have quitted the full time job and one went back to graduate school and the other one was working for my kid for a while because her work is more relaxing compare to the work in the film industry. Even though he was paying more but the hours were grueling.
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  • ucapplicant24ucapplicant24 1 replies2 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 3 New Member
    Thank you so much! Big help.
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  • USCAlum05USCAlum05 337 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 341 Member
    For the grad school portion of SCA, don't bother wasting your time with either screenwriting or production. The real action is in the Peter Stark program. Don't look at programs alone, look at the outputs. Stark probably has the most number of successful alumni of any program at USC SCA.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYPOdKxa0EQ

    P.S. Don't waste your time with critical studies.
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  • LayraSparksLayraSparks 415 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 426 Member
    P.S. Don't waste your time with critical studies.
    her concentration was Critical Studies, which is slightly easier to get accepted.

    Um, excuse me??

    I'm a current Critical Studies student at USC (though it's just been renamed Cinema and Media Studies) and this couldn't be further from the truth!

    You might be surprised to find that less people are in Critical Studies this year than there are in Production (in undergrad), so yes, it is indeed competitive. I could also elaborate on why it's not "wasting time at all", but since you're only asking about production and screenwriting here, here's my two cents:

    If you want to do screenwriting and screenwriting only, apply to that, as it's a very specific degree. If you're not sure about it, go for production, as it allows more flexibility. You also get to do screenwriting and you can take screenwriting classes, but they teach you other aspects of filmmaking as well.

    It's true that opportunities such as First Pitch are available to screenwriting students only, but there are so many more other options at SCA.
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11023 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    Post #4, this was true when my kid applying for college.
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  • USCAlum05USCAlum05 337 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 341 Member
    Of course critical studies is going to be defended by its current students. The people to talk to are the EMPLOYERS, not the current students. Apart from the handful of genuinely awesome budding film scholars - the people who want to be film critics, career academics, or archivists - that program is painfully a repository of wannabes. That's just how it is. Hollywood is about MAKING movies, not studying them. A PhD in economics is not the same thing as an MBA.

    I stand by my earlier statement. Stark is the best program at USC - and I didn't go through it. But whenever people meet me and find out I'm a USC film grad, they immediately think I'm a Starkie. As the cliche goes, other programs and other schools teach you how to make movies, but Stark teaches you how to get movies made. BIG difference.

    Hollywood is a difficult business and it's all about hustle. Stark teaches you the hustle. Critical studies especially teaches you nothing but sitting in a corner and watching old movies while writing asinine papers using pretentious postmodern academic language that makes the rest of the world despise the academy nowadays.
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11023 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    edited September 2015
    Stark is graduate program. And again you are generalizing. You don't even need a film degree to be successful in this film business. I can name 4 successful directors/producers right now without film degree.
    edited September 2015
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  • ArtsandLettersArtsandLetters 501 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 505 Member
    edited September 2015
    The problem with asking a question where you don't know the people is that you have to exercise caution when you get an answer. Screenwriting is competitive because it's a BFA, has a specific set of classes that are taken in order, and doesn't easily lend itself to transferring. But also because they have limited slots.

    Going to college is about learning as well as the career. As an undergraduate at USC you'll be taking more than just SCA classes. It is in grad school where you will specialize.

    Now, here's the deal about any profession. You'll hear about students who get jobs and those who don't, But results sometimes are impacted by the skill and/or motivation of the student. It is also dependent on the specific company they worked for. Some are supportive, others are cutthroat.

    You go into Crit Studies (Now Cinema and Media Studies) to learn the "why" of film. You will still have opportunities to take hands on production classes if you choose. Production is now BFA so it works the same way - specific set of courses taken in sequence. Cinema/Media Studies is more flexible, but when my own daughter enrolled the research showed that Crit Studies students had a high rate of employment.

    So do what you are passionate about. Not what is easier. Or which has the best jobs. What is it YOU want to do?

    Because bottom line - SCA turns down 96% of the applicants who apply. Getting in is going to be difficult for anyone in any department.

    But this rhetoric about whether you'll get a job is not easily answered. SCA teaches you to network. There are students graduating without one. If you can't make cold calls and use their resources to build a network of contacts by the time you graduate, SCA isn't going to be an easy place to study no matter which department you enter.



    edited September 2015
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11023 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    To be honest, I thought the ones that major Critial Studies are the brainy ones. :P
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  • ArtsandLettersArtsandLetters 501 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 505 Member
    Lol! @DrGoogle. Pretty much :-)
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  • USCAlum05USCAlum05 337 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 341 Member
    You're missing the point. Hollywood is not about brains, it is about hustle. Laura Ziskin, the legendary longtime producer and USC alumna who died in recent years, said that movies aren't made, they are willed into existence.

    That's why people don't respect critical studies. Doers versus self-important intellectuals.

    Again, on the graduate level, and in the entire film school really, STARK is the best program.
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  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12434 replies536 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 12,970 Senior Member
    "Again, on the graduate level, and in the entire film school really, STARK is the best program. "

    you've made your point.

    The OP was asking for suggestions regarding undergraduate options at USC.
    Regaling us with your praise for a graduate program that you did not participate in is probably not relevant or helpful right now.

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  • USCAlum05USCAlum05 337 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 341 Member
    "As far as post-undergraduate vocation landing, which program caters better to a career in the entertainment industry: TV and Film Production or Screenwriting?"

    Post-undergraduate = grad school, not undergrad.

    For undergrad, I'd give the slight edge to writing as you have to learn how to write before you can direct, really.

    There are also books out there like Film School Confidential and Hollywood Rules (?) which are good at talking about what it takes to really WORK in Hollywood. The goal of film school is to work in Hollywood, not to get a piece of paper.
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  • DrGoogleDrGoogle 11023 replies24 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 11,047 Senior Member
    edited October 2015
    You know a lot of people do not respect Hollywood. It's often joke in radio and stuff. But all your points point to the fact you don't really need film school. There are a few film schools in LA, lower tier ones, and my coworker has a son who graduated there and making tons of money, granted he was in TV.
    Also the whole film industry is moving/ changing. There was a movie that was produced with a budget of $20k, it was released on theatre, Paranormal Activity.
    edited October 2015
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  • LayraSparksLayraSparks 415 replies11 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 426 Member
    OK, I'm really not coming back here to argue or hijack this thread, but Critical Studies majors MUST take at least one production class (CTPR 290) and many of us take even more. A lot of screenwriting classes are 2 units, so you can take them if you only have 16 units for the semester. A lot of people double major in Business or in Narrative Studies, which is a big plus with employers, who like to see that people are experts in areas outside film as well. It's been said before but I'll say it again, a lot of film school people know how to make films, but they don't have a story to tell. This is rarely the case with Critical Studies people. And no, we don't sit in dusty corners and analyze old films all day - guess what, we make films too. And we know what makes a film good. Over and out.
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  • ArtsandLettersArtsandLetters 501 replies4 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 505 Member
    I think telling someone not to take a degree because an anonymous opinion is that the students are "less than" says a lot about the person who gave it. Crit studies is fine. Yes - like all programs you'll find people who enter (or transfer) looking for a magic wand. But I've met enough kids in that program whose goals are not to be archivists and critics to be comfortable with having a production oriented kid in that program. The sheer amount of film work she's required to complete each semester tells me the alum above's information about what goes on in that program is outdated.
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