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Film and Video Requirements

Prospective students must complete all Admissions Requirements as well as the portfolio requirements to be considered for admission.

Portfolio Guidelines

The program in film & video accepts mailed portfolios only (see Mailing Instructions below). Because of time constraints in reviewing large quantities of films and videos, we ask you to send only your best work. The suggested total run-time of (no matter how many pieces) is 10 minutes. Five minutes of quality material is better than 30 minutes of mediocre work. Please note, however, that we prefer to receive complete works rather than excerpts. If you submit a DVD, please make sure it plays properly from a menu. Label every item you submit with your name, the date completed, the duration or dimensions, and medium. Please do not send the only copy of your creative work. Stretched-canvas, framed or three-dimensional works cannot be accepted; please submit any such items on CD or DVD. Be sure to review the additional portfolio guidelines below for the program to which you are applying.

Mailing Instructions: Please 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.

Video/DVD/Film Submissions

Label your video/DVD/film/16mm film with the total number of items, the title and running time of each piece, and a word or phrase designating your responsibility in the production of each piece (e.g., camera, writer, etc.). Enclose a separate sheet of paper with the same information as above. List your priority for viewing.

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.


The clearest evidence of talent is film or video-based work. 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. The Program in Film and Video requires Mini-DVs, videotape, DVDs or 16mm film. We discourage CD-Roms because they often fail to play. Technical difficulties will be considered as incomplete presentations. DVDs can also fail to play, so please double check your DVDs in a variety of decks before sending. Technical difficulties will be considered as incomplete submissions.

For the review committee, visual work and the required written materials described below have priority in your portfolio.

  • If you choose to submit creative writings such as a short story, poems, or a script, please limit the length to a maximum of six pages. Please send only one copy of your writings in your portfolio.
  • If sending a film or video that was part of a collaborative project, please describe your role in the process or inception.
In addition to the Artist Statement required of all applicants, you must submit four copies of the following written items:
  • 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 the film/video work submitted.
  • Send four collated copies of all written materials, including the Artist Statement that was submitted with your application.
  • Be sure to clearly label all your materials with your name and include them with your portfolio. Type all written material.



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Last edited by mryan on Dec 17, 2014
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