Frequently Asked Questions

CURRENT FELLOWS

From the beginning of the current worldwide crisis, the AFI Conservatory has prioritized the safety and health of its Fellows, staff and faculty and quickly shifted to remote learning to protect the community. Recently, Dean Susan Ruskin spoke about how the Conservatory is currently adjusting to remote learning. Read more here.

AFI will continue to offer its world-class training and education back on campus in Fall 2020 in accordance with state and local laws. Given AFI’s small class size and overall enrollment, we are better equipped to respond to physical distancing rules and regulations.

We are working with our faculty and staff to adjust the production timeline for cycle and thesis films, ensuring that all Fellows are able to work on their films in a safe and healthy environment, guided by new and developing industry standards.

We understand there is uncertainty surrounding visas and visa applications. If you are in need of assistance in either renewing or securing a visa, please contact the Admissions office.

The Conservatory – through its Fellow Affairs and Alumni Affairs offices – is working to help our community through providing information and resources to help them navigate these uncertain times. In coordination with Fellow Affairs, the Conservatory sends out bi-weekly emails to Fellows with helpful tips and advice and provides Fellows with opportunities to stay connected as a community while apart. The Conservatory has also compiled a public resource guide with links to many community and health resources. Continue to check the post as we are constantly updating and adding more information as it becomes available.

Please contact Fellow Affairs if you have any additional questions.

ADMITTED FELLOWS

From the beginning of the current worldwide crisis, the AFI Conservatory has prioritized the safety and health of its Fellows, staff and faculty and quickly shifted to remote learning to protect the community. Recently, Dean Susan Ruskin spoke about how the Conservatory is currently adjusting to remote learning. Read more here.

AFI will continue to offer its world-class training and education back on campus in Fall 2020 in accordance with state and local laws. Given AFI’s small class size and overall enrollment, we are better equipped to respond to physical distancing rules and regulations.

The deadline for enrollment is May 1. If you believe you need an extension, please contact the Admissions office for more information.

During these difficult times, we are working with every Admitted Fellow to assess their best next steps for their education. We believe in the talent and achievements of our incoming class and will work with you if need to defer your admission due to Covid-19 related reasons. Please contact the Admissions office for more information.

We understand there is uncertainty surrounding visas and visa applications. If you are in need of assistance in either renewing or securing a visa, please contact the Admissions office.

PROSPECTIVE FELLOWS

AFI is based on a Conservatory model which focuses the educational experience in 6 disciplines while maintaining a hands-on production environment. Filmmakers come to AFI because you are guaranteed to make movies and to master the art of storytelling. AFI Fellows participate in the entire life cycle of a film, from development through production and exhibition. Because you can’t learn how to make movies without first making movies, we apply practical, hands-on collaboration in your field while guaranteeing that you train in your discipline.

The Conservatory program is a full time, two-year Master of Fine Arts degree program in six different disciplines. Fellows can expect to graduate after finishing their thesis requirements within two and a half years after starting the program.

Yes, a BA is not required for admission. Upon successful completion of your program’s requirements, you will not receive an MFA but will be awarded a Certificate of Completion. Click here for Certificate of Completion gainful employment disclosures.

Although it is not required, applicants are recommended to have demonstrated experience relating to the discipline to which the applicant is applying. For example, Production Design applicants may have a background or degree in architecture, theatre arts, graphic or fine arts, all of which are applicable to the desired discipline of study.

AFI Conservatory is designed for those who want to advance their craft in a specific discipline. You may apply to more than one area of interest and will need to submit separate applications for each discipline. Due to the collaborative nature of the program, successful applicants will be enrolled into only one discipline. It is suggested you do not apply for more than three disciplines in the same academic year.

While each program will require examples of work specific to the chosen discipline, film submissions should be no more than TRT located in the admissions requirements, and submitted material should personally demonstrate individual talent and ability. The AFI Conservatory focuses on narrative filmmaking; samples should also be narrative in format. Production Designer submissions should present at least 75% of their work in their submitted portfolio. Screenwriters may send a script as a T.V. pilot or as an animated series, as long as they show narrative ability and it is the best demonstration of their talent.

AFI Conservatory receives hundreds of applications each year. Enrollment is around 140 Fellows — a successful mix to create teams of Cinematographers, Directors, Editors, Producers, Production Designers and Screenwriters.

We break down what the narrative statement should be about in the admissions requirements page on our website. That is a just a template for you to use so you can write your statement. This is the place where you should tell us about yourself so we can get to know you, your passion for filmmaking, and what makes you unique. You can address each area of the narrative statement separately, or you can blend it all together into one statement. Just make sure it’s no longer than 3 pages.

No. Please follow the instructions for the required supporting materials for the Screenwriting discipline. Only one script sample can be submitted as part of the 20-page example. You can submit a screenplay that is less than 20 pages. The title page and a one-page synopsis does not count towards the 20 pages. Only those materials will be reviewed by the Admissions committee, and the Admissions committee will not review a project that is longer than the recommended length.

You may not submit additional materials or exceed the recommended project length. Please follow the required supporting materials guidelines for each discipline. Only those materials will be reviewed by the Admissions committee; the Admissions committee will not review a project that is longer than the recommended length. Please cut down any samples to fit within those time constraints, and please only submit one video sample per link.

Everything except recommendations and TOEFL/IELTS scores (for international applicants) is due by 11:59 p.m. CST on the date of the deadline. The online application, the application fee, your narrative statement, your resume, your unofficial transcripts, and the discipline specific supporting materials are all due on the deadline. Recommendation letters and TOEFL/IETLS scores for international applicants can be received after the deadline, but we ask that we get them within two weeks of submitting your application so we can get your application into review as soon as possible. Please note, your recommenders will not receive a link until your application has been submitted and received by the Admissions office, and your application cannot be reviewed until we receive all materials.

The Empower application system works best using either Safari or Firefox browsers. We do not recommend using Google Chrome. Applicants usually have trouble uploading documents when the document is not in PDF format and when there is a special character in the title. Please make sure the documents are in PDF format and smaller than 25mb. There should be no special characters in the title, including apostrophes, dashes, hyphens, spaces and commas. Keep your document name as simple as possible.

AFI Conservatory offers limited scholarship support to first year Fellows; most of these opportunities are renewable in the second year, upon satisfactory academic progress. For more information, please see the Scholarships page. Applicants are encouraged to actively explore all funding options and to research outside (non-AFI) scholarships, even before acceptance into the school, and to develop a plan to support the costs of graduate study for the duration of the program. Many outside scholarships can take up to one year to process. Applications for these scholarships should be submitted in advance of desired entry into the program. Please consult the Scholarships page for a list of outside scholarship opportunities.

Generally, Federal Direct student loans will make up the majority of aid eligibility at the AFI Conservatory. Typically, the Federal Direct Loan and Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan have been the foundation of aid offered to graduate students. The Financial Aid page  provides more information on these loans.

All applicants for admission may apply for AFI scholarships. If you wish to apply for AFI Scholarship funds, you must submit the AFI Conservatory scholarship application. Download the pdf application, complete it and the required essay(s), and you will be asked to upload it in pdf format within the online application. Only those scholarship applications uploaded through the admission application will be accepted. The scholarship selection is determined by the AFI Conservatory Financial Aid and Awards Committee with advisement from select scholarship donors on a case-by-case basis. Outside (non-AFI) scholarships are also available for graduate study. Applicants must research these opportunities individually. Deadlines to apply vary. Please see the Scholarships page for more information.

To be eligible for Federal Direct student loans, applicants must either be citizens or permanent residents of the United States and among other federal requirements, must not have a current federal student loan default on record. The Financial Aid page  provides more information on these loans.

You must apply for AFI Scholarships within the admission application. Applicants will generally be notified of financial aid the month following acceptance into the Conservatory, if not included in their offer of admission.

Over the years, approximately half of our student body has been international, coming to AFI from countries all over the world. Our international admission requirements only differ in requiring proof of English language proficiency — a TOEFL or IELTS score is required. Please refer to the admissions requirements for international applicants. Also, if transcripts are submitted, applicants must include an original (no copies) plus an official English translation (if applicable). Please refer to the transcripts section of the admissions requirements.

Yes, during the admissions process, the Admissions Office will accept unofficial transcripts. You will be asked to upload the unofficial transcripts in your application under the Upload Documents section. All transcripts should be merged into one PDF to upload. 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). Should you be offered acceptance, and decide to enroll at the AFI Conservatory, you will be required to provide official transcripts. Transcripts are considered official only if they are sent directly from your school to the AFI Conservatory, either digitally via an online transcript system or by mail in a sealed envelope.

Yes, we encourage you to do so. It is strongly recommended that you reapply only if you have new work to submit and if your experience or submission materials have enhanced your qualifications.

At the end of the first year, all Fellows are provided with an “end-of-year” portfolio review, which provides an overall evaluation of the Fellow’s work during the first year. All Fellows are reviewed within their disciplines by the Discipline Head, and the faculty. Fellows are evaluated on the basis of the quality of the work completed during the reviewed period, attendance and participation in the program, collaboration, professional attitude and creative potential. As with other graduate-level programs, continuation is based on the faculty’s overall evaluation of progress and potential; a Fellow will be invited to continue in the MFA/Certificate program by decision of the faculty.

Yes, the AFI Conservatory welcomes Fellows who receive VA education benefits. Eligible service members are encouraged to visit the VA website at: http://www.gibill.va.gov or by phone at 888–442–4551 to learn more and to begin the application process. Fellows must apply for VA education benefits and also be admitted to the AFI Conservatory before Certification of Enrollment will be granted. After being admitted to the Conservatory, a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) should be presented to the School Certifying Official (SCO) in the Office of the Registrar.

Depending upon the service member’s Chapter of eligibility, funds are dispersed either to the Fellow or directly to the AFI Conservatory (for service members with Chapter 33/Post–9/11 GI Bill, payments for tuition and fees are paid directly to the school. Benefits paid under most other Chapters are dispersed directly to the Fellow).

Fellows must remain in good standing to continue receiving VA education benefits. Unsatisfactory (failing) grades in courses required for degree completion, and/or disciplinary/dismissal actions rendered against the Fellow are reported to the VA and may result in loss of education benefits.

Please refer to the VA website for information about your eligibility under the following Chapters: Chapter 30 (Montgomery GI Bill) Chapter 32, Chapter 33 (Post–9/11 GI Bill), Chapter 35, Chapter 1606 Montgomery GI Bill–SR, and Chapter 1607. Currently, the AFI Conservatory does not participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program in connection with Chapter 33 benefits.

Yes, you are welcome to visit the campus. Please visit the Campus Tours page to see when campus tours and information sessions are held. The AFI Conservatory campus tours consist of an overview of our Master’s film school programs. Guests are granted access to view our facilities and better understand the six disciplines, and what each offers to prospective candidates who are interested in Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting. You may e-mail the Admissions Office at CampusTours@AFI.com to RSVP. Regular office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, during the academic year.

AFI does not provide housing but does connect all incoming fellows together to start finding available apartments in Los Angeles. We provide information about living in Los Angeles, websites to consider, and neighborhoods that are close to campus.

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