Admissions Requirements

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.

2021–2022 Admission Requirements

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

ONLINE APPLICATION

Please click here to access the application*. A separate application is required if applying to more than one discipline.

*Please note, the application will be available to fill out starting in early September.

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 of the required materials, including this fee. You may choose to pay by credit card via PayPal from the online application. Credit cards accepted via PayPal: Visa, Mastercard and Discover. We do not accept American Express.

The narrative statement is a very important part of your application for admission. It allows you the opportunity to express who you are as an individual and a filmmaker, your desires to pursue your area of interest, and explain to us how the AFI Conservatory will contribute to your goal as a filmmaker.

This document should be 1-3 pages in length, double spaced, listing your name, discipline, “Fall 2021” at the top of each page, and saved as a PDF. Please include the following elements:

  • Your background.
  • Your motivation for applying to the discipline.
  • Why AFI Conservatory?

If applying to more than one discipline, each Narrative Statement should reflect particular thoughts regarding that individual discipline. You must supply a different Narrative Statement for each discipline specific application so that you properly address any additional required prompt(s). Please note that Directing, Editing, and Screenwriting do not have departmental prompts, so you may craft your Narrative Statement as you wish.

Disciplines with additional question prompt:

Cinematographers, please also briefly discuss what cinematography and/or cinematographers have inspired you, what brings you to study at the AFI Conservatory, and events in your life that may have been transformative.

Producers, please also explain why you are interested in Producing as opposed to another filmmaking discipline.

Production Designers, please also speak to your design process and your thoughts on what collaboration is and its place in that process.

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 to an online recommendation form from Applications@AFI.com after you submit your application. 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.

Because the online forms are not sent until after you submit your application, there is a grace period for letters to be received. All recommendation letters must be received by Tuesday, December 10* or your application may not be reviewed.

The AFI Conservatory Admissions Office accepts unofficial transcripts during the admissions process. In our online application, we only ask you to list the school in which you received (or will receive) your bachelor’s degree. A transcript is required for the school 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.

You will be asked to upload the unofficial transcript in your application under the Upload Documents section. Unofficial transcripts should also include a grading legend, if applicable. For international applicants: all credentials and transcripts must include an official English translation (if applicable). All transcript information should be merged into one PDF to upload. A transcript is considered unofficial if we receive it directly from the applicant via email or in our application system.

If you attended other schools that may be pertinent to your application (for example, you attended and graduated from graduate school, received a Juris Doctorate, or attended extension courses), 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.

Once you submit your application, transcripts will remain as a missing document until the Admissions office can verify an unofficial transcript has been uploaded for the school listed. Please allow the Admissions office at least 10 business days to verify before resubmitting the transcript.

Official transcripts will be required should you be offered acceptance and decide to enroll at the AFI Conservatory. Information about how to send them will be in the enrollment packet. Official transcripts are considered official if the AFI Conservatory receives the transcripts directly from your school either by email, delivery from a digital transcript service, or by mail in a sealed envelope. Official transcripts will be needed from the school listed on your application. 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 also be required at this time. The Registrar determines final evaluation of applicants’ records.

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, 2021. 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.

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 Thursday, December 10 or your application will not be reviewed as this is a requirement for international applicants. 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.

Test scores should be sent to the AFI Conservatory electronically by TOEFL or IELTS. The AFI Conservatory testing code is 9760.

Scores submitted by the applicant are not official.

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.
  2. Complete a “Ten-Sixty” video assignment with the subject of the video being “Confidence”: 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, so you may use your cell phone for the project.
  3. Still photographs portfolio of 8-12 images provided on a merged PDF. 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 to 25mb or smaller.

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 summary “reel” of up to three minutes
  3. 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 June 2021.

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 and write an original short moving image project for the AFI Conservatory on the topic of “A Confrontation”. 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. We are interested in seeing your storytelling skills. 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).
  5. Submit the script for “A Confrontation” project in #2.

All essays must be saved as a PDF, typed, double spaced, listing your name, discipline, and Fall 2021 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 June 2021.

Submit two different examples of original work of which you are the sole editor on that best demonstrates talent and ability. Sample pieces should be no more than 20 minutes per sample and should demonstrate narrative ability. Only one piece of work per link allowed. No editor reels are accepted.

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 June 2021.

Applicants are required to submit:

  1. Vision Statement— Please submit a 1-2 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 that actually 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 2021 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 June 2021.

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 all or a majority 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), and set decorating ability. 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 in your narrative statement.

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 25mb 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 June 2021.

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 best portion 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, 2021-2022 SCR, and e-mail address.
  2. Write a scene in professional format on the topic of “Risk” (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, 2021-2022 SCR, 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: transcriptssupporting materialsTOEFL, 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 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 2021” at the top of each page–unless otherwise noted.
  • All film link submissions should stay active until June 2021, or your application may not be further considered for admissions.

Online applications and portfolio requirements must be received by 11:59 p.m. CST on the designated dates below.

December 2, 2020: 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 Thursday, December 10 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 on campus or via Skype.

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 during the month of March 2021.

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.

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