Portfolio Guidelines (BFA and MFA)
Your portfolio should contain film or video based work, with a suggested total runtime of 10 minutes. You can submit one or more short pieces that add up to 10 minutes. Send only your best work. Five minutes of quality material is better than 30 minutes of mediocre work. In general, we prefer to receive complete works rather than excerpts. However, if you wish to submit a very long work, for example a feature length film, submit an excerpt and then include a link in the List of Works document of the upload to the full piece. Keep in mind that full length work beyond 10 minutes might not be viewed, these links will be for reference. Do not submit show reels or trailers.
You may supplement your films and/or videos with creative work in other fields, particularly visual material such as artwork, photography, installations, drawings, design, and sound, especially if you believe it will help the faculty to understand the kind of filmmaker you are.
Label each upload item in the description section with the title, date completed, running time, medium, and a word or phrase designating your responsibility in production or inception of each piece (e.g. filmmaker, camera, writer, etc.)
Submitting an online portfolio is required. If you would like to submit work created on celluloid film, such as 16mm or super 8, please upload a telecined version.
Artist Statement (500 - 1000 words)
The Artist Statement is very important in the admissions process and should answer the following three questions:
- What issues and concerns inform your artmaking practice?
- Why are you applying to your program at CalArts?
- What are your artistic goals?
Additional Required Written Materials
Submit the following written materials in your online application.
- List of Works Submitted
- Include your role in the production, any applicable links to full length versions, and a brief one or two-sentence synopsis of each piece submitted in your portfolio. If you submit multiple pieces, be sure the order of the synopses and the work samples are the same.
- Comments on Influences
- Brief comments on films, books, plays, television shows, etc., that you feel have influenced your thoughts as a filmmaker/video artist. It is important to say why and how these works have influenced you. Avoid writing plot summaries. Include titles and creator names.
- Future Project Plan
- Regardless of the work you have done to date or the practical skills you have developed so far, outline an example of a project you have in mind. Describe the basic idea of the project--not the technical aspects of how you would arrange to have it made. Keep in mind that such a plan is meant to give the faculty an idea of the type of filmmaking that interests you, not an idea of a project you will necessarily produce at CalArts. Do not submit scripts or screenplays.
- Short résumé/CV and/or list of special skills.
- Optional Supplemental Creative Writing Sample
- If you wish to submit creative writing such as a short story, essay, poems, or a piece of critical writing please limit the total length to a maximum of 1500 words. Do not submit scripts or screenplays.
Applicants who have passed the preliminary selection process for our MFA program will be notified in mid-February. At that time, candidates may be invited to visit CalArts in March for an interview day to meet faculty, staff, students, and fellow shortlisted applicants. An interview is required of invited applicants and is an important component of the final selection process.
Traditionally we would encourage applicants to attend an in-person Interview Day event on campus, however it is likely that all interviews will have to move to a virtual format for the 2021 application year due to the global covid-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel. As this is an ongoing and ever changing situation, updates and details will be included in the interview invitation depending on the situation.