Design and Production

Before applying, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the Design and Production Programs, faculty, facilities, curriculum and view student work.

Please note that you must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the audition or portfolio requirements to be considered for admission.


Application Guidelines

Admission to the Design and Production program is based on portfolio review and a personal interview.

Applicants must include a résumé and an artist’s statement. Your artist’s statement should discuss your goals and their relationship to your past experience, as well as evidence of your interest in performance based design whether in theater, film, installation, writing or other related forms.

Submit portfolio materials to our online portfolio site and bring portfolio materials to an in-person interview. Interviews will be scheduled at the request of faculty. Applicants who wish to be considered for an interview must have completed all components of the application by the Regular Deadline. Invited students who are unable to attend an in-person interview may schedule a phone or video interview.


BFA Program in Design & Production

The BFA Program in Design & Production is comprehensive in scope, with the expectation that students will explore multiple metier offerings in the design program, while also having the opportunity to pursue an individualized course of study following the first two years.

Applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and interests are encouraged to apply. The portfolio submission should reflect your primary areas of interest and artistic strength. Areas of design and production include scenic, costume, lighting, video, sound, experience design/themed entertainment, stage management and technical direction.

Portfolio

The BFA Design and Production portfolio may include the following as applicable:

  • Examples of drawings, paintings, sculpture, photography, or other artwork.
  • Examples of graphic and drafting skills.
  • Examples of theater design, including models, sketches, costume designs, light plots, prompt books and photographs of props, scenery and costumes.
  • Digital Media— that documents your sound designs, including any accompanying paperwork (cue sheets, equipment lists, drafting, etc.).
  • If applicable, include scores, original music compositions and evidence of computer literacy and indicate if you play a musical instrument.
  • Examples of work that show your craft skills in scenery constructions, painting, props, and/or costuming and lighting, including photographs of realized work, drawings, drafting, samples, patterns, and artistic ideas.
  • Examples of created video work and installations.
  • Documentation of fully realized original work as demonstrated by video, slides, or photographs of designs, and/or documentation of works-in-progress.
  • Architectural drawing, textile work, performance art, and video work are also welcome.

Video Introduction

We ask all applicants to send a brief video introducing yourself and your work. 

Tell us a little bit about what inspires you to make your art and why you’re applying to the Design and Production program in the School of Theater at CalArts. What are your artistic goals and why is CalArts a good fit to help you achieve them? 

  • Duration: minimum of 30 seconds, maximum of 3 minutes    
  • Speak directly to the camera     
  • No edits     
  • No special effects or on-screen overlays     
  • File should be uploaded or linked directly to SlideRoom
  • Does not require professional-level equipment; cellphone cameras or consumer cameras are okay.     

MFA Applicants

Graduate portfolios should include the following:

Costume Design Program

  • Examples of production work including all preliminary work, such as rough sketches, models, technical sketches, and research.
  • Documentation of fully realized original work through video, photographs, scripts, and storyboards, as well as documentation of works-in-progress.
  • Fine art work including drawings, paintings, textile work, sculpture, performance, etc.,  or photographic documentation of the aforementioned.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one professional.

Lighting Design Program

  • Lighting plots and paperwork.
  • Production still images or video.
  • Examples of design, drawing and graphic skills.
  • A writing sample communicating visual or theatrical ideas.
  • Digital or hand drawn renderings of lighting design intentions.
  • Lighting plots in Vectorworks or Autocad and other lighting paperwork including Lightwrite or equivalent.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one professional.

Scene Design Program

  • Examples of production work and design, as well as drawings.
  • Pieces that demonstrate photographic and/or graphic skill.
  • Fine art work, sculptures, models, or photographic documentation of the aforementioned.
  • Documentation of fully realized original work through video, photographs, scripts, and storyboards, as well as documentation of works-in-progress.
  • Architectural drawings, textile work, performance art, and video work are also welcome.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one professional.

Applied Arts Specialization

  • Examples of production work and design, as well as drawings.
  • Examples of scenic art
  • Examples of digital rendering and drafting
  • Pieces that demonstrate photographic and/or graphic skill.
  • Fine art work, figure drawings, sculptures, models, or photographic documentation of the aforementioned.
  • Documentation of fully realized original work through video, photographs, scripts, and storyboards, as well as documentation of works-in-progress.
  • Architectural drawings, textile work, performance art, video work.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one professional.

Interactive Media for Performance Specialization

  • Examples of video design for performance projects.
  • Examples of Virtual or Augmented Reality projects.
  • Examples of video installations, single-channel video art, or projection mapping projects.
  • Examples of cinematic, music video, commercial, or film work.
  • Examples of interactive art, creative technology, programming, gadgets, inventions, creative writing, and hacker/maker projects.
  • Video or still image documentation of other original new media projects.
  • Examples of exciting, new works-in-progress.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one professional.

Sound Design Program

  • Audio or video files that document your sound designs,
  • including any accompanying paperwork (cue sheets, equipment lists, CAD drafting, etc.).
  • If applicable, include scores, original music compositions and evidence of computer literacy and indicate if you play a musical instrument.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one professional.

Technical Direction Program

  • Production books and drafting or technical drawings.
  • Photos of completed work or works-in-progress. These can include work in disciplines other than theater.
  • You may also include examples of organizational ability and technical or artistic experience.
  • Three letters of recommendation, including one professional.