Portfolio Guidelines (BFA and MFA)
A portfolio should contain film or video based work, with a suggested total runtime of 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. 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 comments section on SlideRoom to the entire work. Do not submit a reel.
You may supplement your films and/or videos with creative work in other fields, particularly visual material such as artwork, photography, drawings and design, especially if you believe it will help the faculty to understand the kind of filmmaker you are. Please do not send scripts.
Label each uploaded item with the title, date completed, running time, medium and a word or phrase designating your responsibility in the production or inception of each piece (e.g. camera, writer, etc.)
Submit the Artist Statement with both your online application and your online portfolio submission.
An artist statement answering 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?
Required Written Materials
Submit the following written materials with your online portfolio submissions.
- Comments: 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.
- Project plans: 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
- Short résumé and/or list of special skills (required of MFA; optional for BFA).
- Include a brief one- or two-sentence synopsis of each film/video work submitted.
- If you choose to submit creative writings such as a short story or poems, please limit the length to a maximum of three pages. Please do not submit scripts.
- Clearly label all your written materials with your name and upload them with both your online application and your online portfolio.
Online Portfolio Submissions
Please use our online portfolio system to upload your portfolio with digital files. The system allows you to create a corresponding inventory of work. List for each uploaded file the following information: title, date, medium, dimensions and notes. You may upload still images or video works. Sequence the works according to your priority in viewing.
Once your portfolio is uploaded, it can be viewed and rearranged until the final submission is made. No changes can be made following the final submission of your portfolio. Please be advised that CalArts is not able to view your work until the final submission is made and your payment is received. Be sure to submit your portfolio to the correct degree level and program. If you experience technical difficulties while uploading your portfolio, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for technical assistance.
Online portfolio submissions are preferred. If you wish to submit non-digital formats (e.g. 16mm or analog video) please follow these mailing instructions. If submitting your portfolio by mail, please include 3 copies of all your written material in the same package.
Include a completed Portfolio Information Form with each mailed portfolio. Address your portfolio to the Office of Admissions at CalArts using the printable Portfolio Mailing Label. Do not send your portfolio directly to the School of Film/Video. Doing so will cause a delay in the review of your work.
The Office of Admissions will return your portfolio to you by mail only if you send a prepaid self-addressed package for return mailing. Be sure to complete and include any of the necessary forms required by your service provider. Prepaid mailing labels and packages from USPS, UPS, FedEx, FedEx Ground, and FedEx International are all acceptable. If necessary, your local post office will be able to provide you with an estimate for the return postage amount.
The Portfolio Room is equipped with the following viewing methods: 16mm film, VHS video (NTSC/U.S. and non-U.S. standards), DVD, Blu-Ray, and Mini-DV. We discourage CD-ROMs because they often fail to play. If you choose to submit your portfolio as a CD-ROM, it must be formatted to play on a Macintosh system. If you submit a DVD, please send a back-up copy in an alternate format. A duplicate DVD is considered reasonable as back-up if no other format is available. Please cue tapes. All films should be head out.
Applicants who have passed the preliminary selection process 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. The interview is required of invited applicants and is an important component of the final selection process. Video chat interviews are available in exceptional cases; however, attendance at the in-person interview day is preferred. In addition to giving the faculty a better sense of who you are, it gives you an opportunity to see the school, and meet and talk to many members of the CalArts community.