<p>I'm trying to chose a grad school to pursue an MFA in documentary (or film with a documentary track.) SVA's SocDoc MFA program looks pretty impressive, and fairly unique for those interested in feature length documentaries specifically. </p>
<p>I would love some feedback from anyone who knows about the program? I know it's only a few years old and has kinda small classes, but if anyone is on the forum who's been there, or can point someone this way who has been there, or has researched and made a different decision, I would love to hear about it!</p>
<p>Program link: MFA</a> Social Documentary Film ? School of Visual Arts</p>
<p>I am 25 years old, I work entirely in non-fiction programming (features and tv), and I am open to moving to either LA, NY, or London. Comparing cities and also comparing documentary grad programs at SVA, Berkeley, NYFA, Chapman, LMU, USC, NYU, Colombia.</p>
<p>I am looking into documentary programs and am also wondering about SVA’s SocDoc program. I’m curious if you have now chosen a program, and if you can provide any knowledge and insight you’ve gathered about SVA’s and other documentary programs. </p>
I am a graduate of the SVA Social Documentary program. I graduated a few years ago and wanted to share my experience. In short I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND GOING TO SOCDOC unless you have a full scholarship. I am still close with a lot of people who have graduated from the school and everyone agrees but since we are all so invested in the program most people aren’t vocal about it. Read on for more explanation.
The school is run basically like a bootcamp. You are forced to take a full load of courses and then labs on top of that (that you don’t get any credits for). The really sad thing is that you are being trained to be a slave for the Maro (the head of the program) and her sycophants. All the best students in the program every year are offered unpaid (a few people have been offered very low pay) jobs on the professor’s documentaries. I was told this when I first got there by someone who was ahead of me and didn’t want to believe it. I’ll give it to Maro though, she has a great business plan. Get a dozen young hungry filmmakers to pay you 80,000 so you can train them to be efficient free labor on your own films.
The professors are much more interested in their own films than teaching. Often times professors will use class time to screen their works in progress and edit them in front of you. I gave feedback during one of these sessions and the professor used it but I didn’t even get a mention in the vast thanks in their credits. The teaching was so poor that they really could have taught us the same thing in 20% of the time. Professors are often absent and unprepared for class. On top of that their egos are the size of Texas (despite them being much more relevant 10-plus years ago) and they treat you like Kindergartners.
The film school/no film school argument isn’t so simple but here I REALLY wished I had used this money to hire good people to make my first film… or at least waited and re-applied to a better school.
Additionally, they have old or not enough of the equipment so still count on buying your own camera. Their audio stuff is fine but don’t expect lights or jibs or steadycam or any of the things beyond the basics. I spoke to a current student and they said they just bought 5 Fs5s. But they only bought 5 for 30 students so people are getting into fights over them.
On the plus side they have a really cool looking space. However,
Don’t do it! My 2C