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I'm a Cinematic Arts major! Any questions?

dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
Hey everyone!! There seem to be a ton of SCA hopefuls on here (and I used to be one) so I thought I'd make this thread in the hopes of answering any questions you may have. :)

Disclaimer: I don't work for admissions. Don't ask me if you're going to get in because I have no idea. HOWEVER I can give you some good advice on housing and classes and offer up my experiences at this school (financial aid, work study, the production process, USC's copyright rules, etc).

I applied out of high school and was rejected by USC (accepted by NYU), spent one year at community college because I only wanted to go to USC, and then transferred for the fall semester of my second year of college. Currently at the end of my third year. Last semester I studied abroad and could answer questions about that too! Also, for the record, I'm a Critical Studies major with a minor in Consumer Behavior through Marshall.

Feel free to PM me as well!

And yes, USC is the best film school ever and I have no regrets about coming here. ;)

EDIT: also, if anyone would like to see any of my own film work I'd be willing to PM you a link!
Post edited by dreamupsided0wn on

Replies to: I'm a Cinematic Arts major! Any questions?

  • madbeanmadbean Registered User Posts: 3,219 Senior Member
    dreams, just to get the ball rolling, would you comment on a few specifics:
    1) What was the most unexpected aspect of attending USC and also SCA, if any?
    2) What sort of opportunities do you have as a CS major to do film production if you wish?
    3) What are the other SCA students like?
    4) Where did you study abroad and how did it fit into the req'd courses for your major/minor?
    5) What was it like to be a transfer student to USC? How was your transition?

    Thanks for coming back and helping answer questions!
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    1. The quality of education (I knew it was good but I didn't realize how good it was) and the endless opportunities (in terms of internships). The Hollywood Reporter did an article on the top film schools a while ago and about USC they wrote "the pro: it's a vast dream factory. The con? It's a vast dream factory." Pretty much sums up my feelings about it. :)

    2. Every major within SCA is required to take CTPR 290 and CTPR 241 concurrently. They are production classes and you make four movies on your own (one week to write, another to shoot, and another to edit) plus a fifth with several class members where everyone is assigned roles by the professors. You screen every project in class and everyone critiques it. I'm actually in that class right now and enjoying it very much. Though it's difficult to take some production classes (like CTPR 310 - I've been told it IS possible to take as a non-Production major under certain circumstances but I don't know if that's true or not). However, you have tons of opportunities to work on other people's projects! In my first year, I worked on 20 or so projects, both undergrad and grad, including a thesis film. There are sooo many opportunities! People post calls for crew members in the SCA facebook groups all the time. Also, you can obviously intern for production companies.

    3. Everyone is incredibly professional and cordial with each other. It's really incredible - it always feels like everyone in SCA knows everyone else. People are always willing to help you out with your projects or give you advice. Also everyone is outrageously talented, which is both inspiring and humbling. :)

    4. I studied abroad in London - per USC policy, you are required to take two courses that count towards your major while abroad, so I took two film classes. The other two classes I took counted as elective/minor credit. I will still be graduating on time too and I'm hoping to study abroad again over the summer.

    5. Just like being a regular student! I had a great transition. Most of my close friends now were transfers my semester as well, but several weren't. There's no stigma attached to it or anything because there's a ton of spring admits who were basically transfers too. USC was very helpful and arranged tons of transfer events. There's some kind of transfer organization that does mixers all the time too.
  • filmwalkerfilmwalker Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    Hi! I am a student who will most likely be attending USC next year (SCA Film and TV Production) and I have a few questions.

    1- Is SCA really as good as everyone says?
    2- What were your expectations going in and how where those expectations met?
    3- Would it be hard for someone in the production program to double major, as the program is intensive and time consuming?
    4- I've heard that SCA students tend to stick together and are kind of seperated from the rest of the USC community. To what extent is this true?
    5- What is the best dorm for film students, or does it not matter?

    Thank you!
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    Hi filmwalker!!

    1. SCA is awesome. :) There was no way I could have anticipated how much I would love it here! There are multiple film screenings every week in the many on-campus theaters, the learning facilities are state-of-the-art (seriously - almost every class I've taken has been taught in a 400-person movie theater), you have access to industry standard equipment... I'm currently interning for my favorite director of all time and I don't think I would have gotten this opportunity if I hadn't gone to USC.

    2. It was better than I expected. I didn't think I was going to know how to do anything because I had almost no production experience. I didn't realize how quickly you learn everything: you really hit the ground running, especially in CTPR 290 (the introductory production class that everyone has to take). I also didn't expect the faculty - every professor I've had has hardcore film experience! For example Mardik Martin (Raging Bull) and Jack Epps (Top Gun) both teach screenwriting courses. Also the people you run into while walking around is sometimes absurd - George Lucas pays a few visits.

    3. I'm not in the Production major so I can't say for sure because it depends on a lot of things. I think a lot of the classes are intensive and time-consuming but you don't really start taking the hardcore classes until later on if you come in as a freshman (someone correct me if I'm wrong). I have friend in Production with minors and double majors. It's very easy to graduate a semester early at USC and I think you could certainly do a double major if you were willing to work hard. :) As I mentioned, I was a transfer and I was able to study abroad and will complete my major and minor on time. USC really encourages people to study multiple programs - there's a program called Renaissance Scholars here you should look into if that interests you.

    4. SCA students certainly do stick together. The vast majority of my friends are SCA students just because we work together on so many projects and end up spending a lot of time with each other as a result. But we are by no means separated from everyone else at USC! I have tons of friends in Theatre who have helped me out by acting in projects, as well as people I've met through work study, study abroad, non-SCA classes, and SCA events that are open to non-majors. Loving film is universal. If you go to parties you're bound to meet people too! :) Everyone at USC is just so sociable. Also there are a lot of people in other majors (Engineering, International Relations, Psychology, etc) who are interested in film. I recently worked with an actress who was a Neuroscience major that just did films for fun. The thing that's unique about USC is that because they encourage everyone to pursue all of their interests, you get people with incredibly diverse backgrounds who study multiple topics. It's contagious.

    5. I never lived in a dorm, nor would I want to just because I like having my own room and campus housing is a bit pricey for me. I've had friends live in New/North because there's a cinema floor, and I think a lot of people meet fellow film majors that way. But you can meet film majors at school, so may as well branch out. New/North is actually quite far from the film school, on the South side of campus. The two closest USC housing locations to the film school are Webb Tower (probably twenty feet away but it's REALLY expensive) and Cardinal Gardens (down the street about five minutes). Fluor is also close to SCA (it's behind Webb), Birnkrant is about a five minute walk down the street and it's next to Leavey in a good central location. A lot of my film major friends have lived in Troy Hall/Troy East and the Shrine Collection because they're in between SCA and the Robert Zemeckis Center (some soundstages behind the Shrine Auditorium where you have some Production classes). I personally live near Vermont & Exposition in off-campus housing and the three houses next to me are all full of film students. It's cheaper and I just walk (or if I have equipment, I drive my car and park near SCA at a meter). Here's a good map: USC Maps
  • dreamchaserUSCdreamchaserUSC Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    I'm so glad you posted this. I also applied to USC out of high school and was rejected but i'm reapplying to hopefully make it this time. Im just happy to see that i can actually have a chance of still attending. I have the same mindset as you that USC was my school and i really didnt want to go anywhere else. Anticipating the admission decision is really the hardest thing at this point.

    My question is what made USC the only school you wanted to go to? I know i love it but i want to know why you do lol and are you and in-state or out-of-state transfer?
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    I'm an out-of-state transfer (from Chicago). Part of what attracted me was definitely the climate, not gonna lie... and especially the generous financial aid.

    My best friend got in as a freshman and she really loved it too, so she kinda sold me. I loved the study abroad opportunities and the diversity of minors (mine is unique to USC, no other school has a minor like it). Not really sure if there's anything else, it was just an instinctive feeling and I felt like I belonged here.
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    Views: 708

    Stop hiding, everyone. :)
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    Answered some questions about transferring into the Writing for Screen & TV program here, if anyone's looking for those answers:

  • SeabasstianSeabasstian Registered User Posts: 97 Junior Member
    I am anxiously waiting for my admissions decision this month. Much like you, I only see myself at USC. I applied to the Film and TV Production program (visual sample: HERE FOR YOU - USC SCA Visual Sample (Fall 2013) - YouTube)
    I have a few questions:
    1) I'm a pretty average student, nothing extraordinary except maybe my GPA (3.8 uw). One of my biggest fears is that I'll be rejected because I don't "stand out" like many other applicants. How did you deal with your initial rejection?

    2) I'm more introverted than extroverted. I only open up to those that I know pretty well and when I do I can be very sociable. I know that in such a cutthroat business it is imperative that one have good social skills. Do you feel that the community at SCA is tight-knit and for the most part accepting, likable, and relatable? Do you feel that the connections you have made with your fellow peers will continue even after college?

    3) One of the aspects of SCA that attracts me so much is the success rate of graduates from the school. USC boasts about their Trojan Network and it is implied, if not explicitly stated, that one of the reasons SCA grads are so successful is because of the networking with current and past Trojans. To what extent have you seen this? Do you feel that you will be successful, and why? What opportunities have you been presented with that include working with industry professionals (other than USC faculty)?

    Thank you in advance!
  • alamemomalamemom Registered User Posts: 6,384 Senior Member
    I am sure dreamupside0wn will pop in soon to officially answer your questions, Seabasstian, but I wanted to add a comment about your question #1.

    dreamupsided0wn dealt very well with her initial rejection - she appealed the decision with a thoughtful and complete appeal, carefully considered her other options, and then made solid plans to do fabulously well in community college for a year and MAKE USC accept her. BUT the college confidential-USC forum community did not deal nearly as well with the situation! As you can see from this thread: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/university-southern-california/894580-dreamupsided0wn-touched-us-all.html?highlight=dreamupsided0wn we were inconsolable! Well, until things turned around at post #30 :)
  • DreamingFIlmsDreamingFIlms Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member

    For your critical studies app, what did you do for your supplement?

    also, what do you think set you apart from the competition?
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member

    1. I was pretty upset by my initial rejection, but it was a weird moment in my life - I had received acceptances from other top film schools, but none offered the financial aid that I needed and I slowly realized that I would have to suck it up and attend community college for a year. I don't regret being a transfer... if I had started a year earlier, I wouldn't have met some of my best friends. I don't regret it at all, because it doesn't matter how you got there as long as you're where you want to be (provided you don't injure/maim anyone in the process, at least ;)). I think it taught me a lot of resilience, and if you can take something away from a negative experience then you're set.

    2. I'm a huge introvert. Dealing with people/networking makes me pretty anxious. Whenever I'm in group settings, I tend to just not talk. It hasn't really been a problem for me at USC. You can still be outgoing and an introvert. The community is indeed very tight-knit and likeable. No one's gonna hate you for being shy. :) As I mentioned before, I've met some of my best friends here who I know I will continue to work with long after we graduate. I didn't really open up to a lot of them immediately anyway, it took a few semesters for me to get comfortable. In a way I think being at SCA taught me how to be more outgoing; you're constantly meeting new people and you talk in class a lot. I'm not really sure what to tell you except that you should trust me. It won't impede you. Also - I was always a bit shy the first few weeks at my internships but after a while I realized everyone is there to help you and they want to be your friend.

    3. DEFINITELY. The Trojan Mafia is real. There are some companies (my first internship, for example) that ONLY hire USC students. There are others that don't hire them at all. There are others that don't care. Also alumni always come back to do screenings, host Q&A sessions, participate in career fairs, donate money, etc. I think I will be successful - not because of USC, but because of the learning opportunities that USC has provided me (career fairs, resume workshops, networking events, screenings with filmmakers, etc) and the friendships I've made here (just from working on other students' sets). As far as opportunities... for anonymity's sake, I don't want to name specific companies/individuals but I currently intern at my favorite director's company, and at my first internship I interned with two producers whom I admire at their production company. I also interned at a talent agency in Chicago and studied abroad at a top film school in London.

    Also: thanks alamemom! ;)
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    DreamingFIlms (is anyone else perplexed at the amount of people on the USC board with 'dream' in their username?)

    Which supplement? For the analysis of a TV show/film I wrote about the HBO miniseries John Adams and just talked about various aspects like literary & visual design, costuming, historical accuracy, etc and compared it to other historical biopics. I don't remember too well what else I wrote about - I think I wrote an essay about collecting coins and another about how my first time on a film set was miserable.

    What set me apart? Heavens, I have no idea. I don't think anything particularly set me apart... I have noticed that a LOT of students here are from California, so I suppose it could've been my Chicago attitude. I was also born in a now-dissolved communist state, though I've actually met a few other people at SCA who were as well. :) Oh, I did write a lot about how I love horror films and how it upsets me that they aren't really taken seriously. I guess I'll never really know why they let me in.
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    Since I'm currently procrastinating, I thought I'd write about a few other things that people don't tend to know about when they apply to SCA/USC.

    - People tend to only think of Critical Studies, Production, and Writing FS&T. HOWEVER there are tons of other programs and divisions within SCA! There's Interactive, Animation, and IML, among others! I want to tell everyone about IML (Institute for Multimedia Literacy) specifically. It's an incredible program at USC and I took one of their courses my first semester - it is possibly the most useful class I ever took. We did in-depth tutorials on Photoshop and Final Cut, and I learned so much even though I already knew how to use those programs. We also learned how to use Adobe Flash Catalyst, a skill not many people have. If you want to learn more about IML and their course offerings (particulary interesting if you're into interactive media and how media has evolved and will continue to adapt in the future): USC IML

    - Another interesting program that works with IML and SCA is the Shoah Foundation. They're a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of visual history, and they do a lot of work with Holocaust survivors. There's an annual SCA-Shoah film contest where you can use their extensive (!!!) collection of Holocaust survivor testimonials to make a video about awareness/prejudice/related themes. Steven Spielberg does a lot of work with them. Check them out here: Home | USC Shoah Foundation

    - I'm obligated to talk about this because I'm actually doing an info session for film students on study abroad this week; there are some incredible study abroad opportunities here! I encourage everyone to study abroad. I went to London and it was a mindblowing experience. Check out the Office of Overseas Studies website for information about all of USC's programs (there are 54 programs in 29 countries): Overseas Studies > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

    And you don't even have to do it during the school year! There are plenty of awesome summer programs:
    Problems Without Passports > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
    Summer Study Abroad > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
    Maymester > USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

    USC has these two cool honors programs for people who study abroad, if you're looking for some grad school money:
    USC Discovery Scholars
    USC Global Scholars

    - MINORS!!!! List of Minors | Undergraduate Education
    USC has some unique minors you should seriously consider. I'm a Consumer Behavior minor and I love it. The interdisciplinary programs are fantastic. Or, if you're ambitious, check out other majors. The reason I recommend this is because USC has this neat-o scholarship/honor distinction for people who study two different majors or minors: USC Renaissance Scholars

    - SCA (in partnership with USC) does some incredible screenings! I've been to Spanish film festivals, a Maya Angelou poetry reading (my first week at USC!), an ongoing Twin Peaks retrospective... EVERYTHING.

    Check out these events lists:
    School of Cinematic Arts Events - USC School of Cinematic Arts
    School of Cinematic Arts Events - USC School of Cinematic Arts
    School of Cinematic Arts Events - USC School of Cinematic Arts
    Visions and Voices: The Arts and Humanities Initiative

    I'll let you know if I think of anything else. ;)
  • dreamupsided0wndreamupsided0wn Registered User Posts: 1,505 Senior Member
    Also some things I would like to note about SCA that separate it from other film schools:

    - People often bring up USC's copyright policy as a reason not to go here. I hear a lot of people at NYU mention that at NYU you own the rights to your film vs. at USC, the school owns the rights. This type of argument is highly reductive. USC owns the rights to the actual video that you make for their classes, but they do not own the intellectual rights (the screenplay/idea) so you can still make it on your own and do whatever you please with it. Also... I've heard of people at other schools stealing ideas from USC student films and USC jumping in to protect its students legally, so don't think they're trying to own you. They're here to help you. You can still submit your USC films to festivals and stuff with the school's approval anyway, the only thing you're not supposed to do is post them all over the internet. I think this has to do with protecting USC's image, but that's just speculation. Don't let it discourage you from going here!

    - A lot of my friends have asked me what sort of equipment we have access to... the computers at school are equipped with Final Cut, Premiere, and Avid, but in class we mostly focus on Avid because it's an industry standard. I've never had the opportunity to work with film, but we do get to watch film prints in class. As far as cameras, I've only worked with Sony HD models through the school; I don't know whether or not they have older Panasonic models or anything like that. They also provide us with tripods, lighting and sound kits (boom mics), and practical things like C-stands for classes which is nice!

    - There are several sound stages in the SCA complex and at the nearby Robert Zemeckis Center that you can book for free if you're enrolled in a production course. They come equipped with a ton of lighting equipment and a board to operate the whole place.

    - The exhibition facilities: the primary screening venue is Norris Theatre (not technically part of the SCA complex but very close by), which is where most of the Critical Studies classes are taught and where they host bigger films/Q&As. It seats hundreds of people. There are also many smaller theaters in the SCA complex itself (for example the Ray Stark Family Theatre and the Broccoli Theatre). Pretty much all of the exhibition facilities are equipped with just about every medium there is (including DV tapes!), though only the bigger ones have film projectors. Pretty much all of the classrooms have digital projectors.

    - In a lot of Production classes you get to screen your films in the massive Norris Theatre - for example CTPR 310, 480, 508, 546...

    - We have a neat editing lab where you can use some very very nice computers to edit your projects (provided you are enrolled in a production course) and use lockers to keep your hard drives safe. There are also computers in the IML facilities and other parts of campus. USC does a really good job of providing you with the technology that you need to succeed. All of the computers in the libraries even have Photoshop and stuff like that.

    - There's a Coffee Bean in our courtyard and a lot of food trucks that park on Jefferson Street. ;)
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