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Admissions Requirements

Ranked as one of the top film schools in America, the AFI Conservatory is searching for next generation filmmakers with individual artistic voices to apply as Fellows to one of the six disciplines in our MFA program. Through impressive contributions to film and television, Fellows at the Conservatory bring to life our mission and vision by serving as artists and leaders in the art of storytelling and influencing culture.

This information will give you the opportunity to learn how to successfully apply to the MFA program, as well as provide instructions on material submissions for the Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design, and Screenwriting disciplines.

2022–2023 Admission Requirements

All applicants for admission to the MFA or Certificate of Completion at the AFI Conservatory must submit the following:

ONLINE APPLICATION

Apply Now. You will have the option to apply to up to two disciplines.

Application Fee: $90

Please note that if you choose to apply to more than one discipline, you must pay an additional application fee for each discipline application you choose to submit. Applications cannot be reviewed until you submit all the required materials, including this fee.

The narrative statement is a very important part of your application for admission. This document should be no longer than 3 pages in length, double spaced, 12-point font, listing your name, discipline, “Fall 2022” at the top of each page, and saved as a PDF.

Your narrative statement should address each of the following:

  • Tell us something about your own unique story. What shaped you?  What is important to you about the stories you want to tell? The goal is to get to know you as a storyteller outside of your resume.
  • Why are you applying for this specific discipline? What people/movies/art inspire you in that field?
  • The AFI Conservatory is a hands-on collaborative learning environment. What is your experience as a collaborator in the filmmaking process?
  • How do you see the AFI Conservatory benefiting your long-term career goals?

A separate narrative statement is required for each discipline you apply to reflecting your thoughts regarding that individual discipline.

Your resume should detail your professional work, set experience, education level and degree(s) earned (please see additional information in the TRANSCRIPTS section about listing education in your resume).

Please provide the names of two individuals who will provide a recommendation (along with valid e-mail addresses for both) within the online application. The recommenders will be e-mailed a link from the application portal. Please follow up with your recommenders to ensure they have completed the online recommendation as your application cannot be reviewed without them. We will only accept submissions directly from the recommender. Submissions provided by the applicant will not be considered. No hard copy letters are accepted.

Letters of recommendation are due on December 1, 2021.

The AFI Conservatory Admissions Office accepts unofficial transcripts* during the admissions process. In our online application, please only list schools of higher education where an unofficial transcript can be obtained. A transcript is required for any of the schools listed as part of your admissions application. Please note, a school cannot be removed or deleted from your application once you submit it so please keep this in mind when listing the school you attended.

If you attended other schools that may be pertinent to your application (for example, you attended extension courses or a workshop), please list these on your resume and not in the application system. Should the AFI Conservatory need additional information about your academic background, we will reach out to you directly.

For international applicants: all credentials and transcripts must include an original (no copies) plus an official English translation (if applicable). A bachelor’s equivalency report will be required for Admitted Fellows who decide to enroll at the AFI Conservatory. For more information, please visit our International Applicants page. The Registrar determines final evaluation of applicants’ records.

Certificate of Completion applicants: if you have some higher education history, please list that school in the Academic History section. If you do not have any higher education post high school (primary school), please list where you received your high school diploma and answer the academic history questions to the best of your ability.

All transcripts and credentials are due on December 1, 2021.

*Admitted Fellows who decide to enroll at the AFI Conservatory will be required to submit official transcripts.Transcripts are considered official if the AFI Conservatory receives them directly from the issuing school either digitally or by post mail, or if the Admitted Fellow sends a physical copy in a signed and sealed envelope.

Applicants who do not hold an earned undergraduate degree or equivalency may be eligible to apply to participate in the program as an Associate Fellow. Eligibility to apply to the program as an Associate Fellow is based upon the applicant having demonstrated exceptional skill through a track record in his/her/their field, and a required number of years of applicable experience, as determined by the Conservatory.

Applicants must:

  1. Complete the full application including discipline specific requirements;
  2. Document a minimum of 3 years of professional experience and accomplishments;
  3. Demonstrate the maturity to participate in a graduate level program (and apply a minimum of 4 years post completion of his/her/their high school in the US or secondary education abroad)

Associate Fellows are required to meet all the requirements and obligations of degree-candidate Fellows. Associate Fellows are awarded  Certificates of Completion upon successful completion of all requirements of the AFI Conservatory program within their respective discipline.

The AFI Conservatory is a need-blind institution. Scholarship or financial need is not taken into consideration during the admissions process and would never be used in hindrance to an applicant’s admissions decision.

After you submit your admissions application, if you wish to be considered for a scholarship, please submit this  form  by February 1, 2022. This form will be submitted directly to the AFI Conservatory’s Financial Aid office. Notification of scholarship awards will be sent out after an admissions decision has been rendered and admitted Fellows will receive notification if they have been awarded a scholarship or not.

AFI Scholarship consideration is open to domestic and international applicants. Late applications may not be considered.

International applicants must submit an English proficiency score if English is not the applicant’s native language. Applications will not be reviewed without the minimum test score. No exceptions. The AFI Conservatory accepts the following tests TOEFL, IELTS, and Duolingo. The TOEFL code is B886*. The IELTS code is 9760. *Please note, TOEFL scores are sent to our application system, GradCAS, and not directly to AFI for processing.

We recommend International applicants take the TOEFL, IELTS (not IETLS), or Duolingo test prior to submitting their application and report the qualifying minimum score. Qualifying official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo scores are due by the application deadline. Please allow appropriate time for test scheduling and the distribution of results.

The minimum TOEFL score requirement is 100 Internet-based score (IBT), 250 computer-based (CBT) or 600 paper-based (PBT). The minimum IELTS score requirement is 7.0. The minimum Duolingo score is 125. Please allow appropriate time for test scheduling and the distribution of results.

For testing information, go directly to the testing sites: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo. Test results must be taken within 24 months of the date you apply to the Conservatory, or they will be considered invalid.

Scores submitted by the applicant are not official.

Qualifying test scores are due on December 1, 2021.

International Applicants — click here to learn more.

DISCIPLINE SPECIFIC SUPPORTING MATERIALS/PORTFOLIO REQUIREMENTS

Cinematography applicants are required to submit the following:

  1. One example of original work that best demonstrates talent, ability and experience as a Cinematographer. The moving image submission can be no longer than 20 minutes in length, and you must be the sole Cinematographer on the project. The submission should demonstrate your narrative ability.  The project should be in English or be subtitled in English.
  2. Complete a “Ten-Sixty” video assignment with the subject of the video being “restriction”: 10 shots of video with total duration of 60 seconds. No audio, dialogue, or words in any form but music is allowed. No significant text, fancy transitions or color effects allowed. This should be a narrative video of 10 images, up to 60 seconds maximum TRT. We are interested in seeing your storytelling skills. Please submit a moving image film and not stills for this project. Creativity is key and does not have to have large production value. Please consider health and safety concerns as you approach this prompt. This exercise does not require you to spend any money or have a large production value so you may use your cell phone for the project, if you wish.
  3. Still photographs portfolio of 8-12 images provided on a merged PDF which should include a few formal portraits. One image per page. No montages, screenshots, set stills, or frames from a motion picture original allowed. The presentation of your images is noticed, so please be thoughtful. Please limit file size to15mb or smaller.
  4. A cinematography “reel” of up to three minutes

Supplemental Submissions (optional):

  1. A second example of an original work that best demonstrates your talent, ability, and experience as a Cinematographer. The moving image submission can be no longer than 20 minutes in length, and you must be the sole Cinematographer.
  2. A short sample of documentary work you may have done

Submissions will be accepted via YouTube or Vimeo links within the online application; all submissions should include whether or not the project was completed at an educational institution and the format(s)/camera used for each. DO NOT PASSWORD PROTECT THE VIDEO LINKS YOU PROVIDE IN YOUR APPLICATION. Please make sure all links are active until August 2022.

Directing applicants are required to submit the following:

  1. Submit an example of a moving image project that you have personally directed and that best demonstrates individual talent and ability. You may submit the best 10 continuous minutes from a feature or a short whose TRT is longer than 10 minutes, or you may submit a completed short that is less than 10 minutes TRT. Submissions that are longer than 10 minutes will not be considered for admission. Only work that the applicant has directed (not co-directed) will be considered. The project should be in English or be subtitled in English.
  2. Direct an original short moving image project for the AFI Conservatory on the topic of“a shift in perspective.” The project should be no longer than 5 minutes in length and can be shot on your cell phone. We are interested in seeing your storytelling skills. Creativity is key here – not production value. Please consider health and safety concerns as you approach this prompt. Compelling stories can still be told within these limited conditions, and evaluations will be made in this spirit of appreciating the production value (and performance) limitations. This exercise does not require you to spend any money or have a large production value so you may use your cell phone for the project, if you wish. The project should be in English or be subtitled in English.
  3. Describe why you made the moving image project in #1 and the lesson(s) you learned from making it (one page maximum).
  4. Describe why you made the moving image project in #2 and the lesson(s) you learned from making it (one page maximum).

All essays must be saved as a PDF, typed, double spaced, listing your name, discipline, and Fall 2022 at the top of the page.

Submissions will be accepted via a link to YouTube or Vimeo in the online application; DO NOT PASSWORD PROTECT THE VIDEO LINKS YOU PROVIDE IN YOUR APPLICATION. Please make sure all links are active until August 2022.

Submit two examples of original work where you are the sole editor. The moving image submission cannot be longer than 20 minutes per sample and should demonstrate editing skill and knowledge of narrative storytelling. Only one piece of work per link allowed. No editor reels are accepted. The project should be in English or be subtitled in English.

Submissions will be accepted via YouTube or Vimeo links within the online application. DO NOT PASSWORD PROTECT THE VIDEO LINKS YOU PROVIDE IN YOUR APPLICATION. Please make sure all links are active until August 2022.

Applicants are required to submit:

  1. Vision Statement— Please submit a1-2 page statement on a story you would like to create as a feature or TV show. Whether an original idea or an adaptation based on a novel, play, magazine article, current news event, or historical event, please include:
    1. Articulate the theme(s) that drew you to the story, character details, and style.
    2. Explain why you want to tell this story and why you think it will appeal to audiences.
  2. Short Answers— Please answer two out of three of the following questions. One-page maximum total; please devote a half page to each of your two questions only.
    1. Tell us something about an incident in your life when you acted in a way that surprised even you.
    2. Tell us something that people might assume about you thatactually isn’t right- and what is the truer version?
    3. What two qualities do you possess that would serve you well as a producer?

Supplemental submissions are not required but can include:

  1. Submit a link to any visual work which you think best represents your endeavors up to this point. Please specify your role. The project should be no longer than 10 minutes in length and should be in English or subtitled in English.

All essays must be saved as a PDF, typed, double spaced, listing your name, discipline, and Fall 2022 at the top of the page.

Film submission will be accepted via a link to YouTube or Vimeo in the online application; DO NOT PASSWORD PROTECT THE VIDEO LINKS YOU PROVIDE IN YOUR APPLICATION. Please make sure all links are active until August 2022.

Applicants must submit samples of work that demonstrate evidence of your design process as the committee wishes to see your ability in the following areas and not just the finished project.

Your portfolio must include at least one example of each of the following skills:

  • Architectural, theater or industrial design hand drafting
  • computer drafting (Vector Works, Rhino, CAD, SketchUp)
  • hand and computer model-making skills
  • perspective, sketching and life-drawing ability
  • set and prop construction experience
  • graphic design (Photoshop and Illustrator)
  • set decorating ability

Show before and after photos from the same angle of any location design transformations you have done. This helps us understand the amount of work you and your art department did to make this space work for your story. Set the mood and define the character that lives there.

Please be clear about what your role was in the projects you are submitting within your portfolio. If you cannot demonstrate any of the skills listed above, please briefly address what skills you are missing as a page in your portfolio.

Portfolio materials must be formatted as PDF files at 72ppi. Please limit content to a maximum of 24 pages. There is a file size limitation of 15mb when uploading your portfolio. A link to your personal design website and/or a link to a moving image production featuring your design work is optional but available via the application. Please make sure all links are active until August 2022.

Screenwriting applicants are required to submit the following:

  1. A PDF of a typed screenplay in professional format (20 pages maximum) of which you are the sole screenwriter. If the sample is from a longer script, select what you feel is the bestportion of your script. It could be the first 20 pages, or some other section. Give us (briefly) enough context to know where we are in the story if it is not the first 20 pages. Co-authored and adaptations will not be considered. Be sure to include a title page with your name, 2022-2023 SCR, and e-mail address.
  2. Write a scene in professional format on the topic of “the guilty party” (five pages maximum). Make sure the scene contains three characters. It should introduce a main character, contain a turn, and an ending that points to further story and makes us want to know more. Be sure to include a title page with your name, 2022-2023SCR, and e-mail address.

Before you apply…

  • Read the FAQ as it provides an answer to many frequently asked questions.
  • Learn about tuition, fees, and estimated living expenses by reviewing and understanding the cost of attendance to the Conservatory.
  • Prepare these items and documents before you fill out your online application: transcripts, supporting materials, TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo minimum score (if applicable).
  • Review the discipline-specific requirements to prepare for submitting the online application.
  • If you anticipate needing tuition assistance, please visit our Scholarships page to learn more about our donor-based scholarship opportunities and qualifying criteria.
  • Add Applications@AFI.com, Admissions@AFI.com, and the domain address AFI.com to your email settings as communications about your application will come from Applications@AFI.com, Admissions@AFI.com, or a staff email address. Check your spam/junk folder as well to ensure you receive all important communications. AFI is not responsible for any missed communications if applicants are not checking their spam folders or adding our domain addresses to their approved list of emails.
  • All documents should be saved as a PDF, typed, double spaced, listing your name, discipline, and “Fall 2022” at the top of each page–unless otherwise noted.
  • All film link submissions should stay active untilAugust 2022, or your application may not be further considered for admissions.

Online applications and portfolio requirements must be received by 8:59 p.m. PT (11:59 p.m. ET) on the designated date below.

December 1, 2021: Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting

In order for your application to be considered complete and eligible for admissions, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and/or qualifying TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores (if applicable) must be received by Wednesday, December 1 or your application will be considered incomplete and pulled from admissions consideration.

The applicant’s completed application, narrative statement, resume, letters of recommendation, transcripts (if applicable) along with the other required Admissions materials will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee to determine if a candidate will be invited to participate in an interview.

Interviews for all disciplines take place via Zoom.

Due to the high volume of applications that are processed, the Admissions Office does not provide application status updates. All decisions will be communicated via email on the pre-determined notification dates. Application materials are not returned to the applicant.

The review and interview process will determine acceptance.

Applicants will be notified of their final admissions status via e-mail on March 14, 2022.

The Admissions Committee does not provide individual critiques of any applicant’s work. The decisions of the Admissions Committee are final and not subject to appeal. Individuals who are denied admission to a program of study are not entitled access to materials relating to the denied application. Application materials are not returned to the applicant.

Please check your spam/junk folder if your emailed letter is not received on March 14, 2022.

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