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 description section of the upload to the full piece. 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. camera, writer, etc.)
Submitting an online portfolio through is required. If you have additional physical media that you wish to mail in, such as 16mm film, please contact your Admissions Counselor for mailing instructions.
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?
Submit your Artist Statement with both your online application.
Additional Required Written Materials
Submit the following written materials in your online application.
- Synopsis of Works Submitted
- Include 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.
- 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, or poems, please limit the total length to a maximum of 1500 words. Do not submit scripts.
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. An interview is required of invited applicants and is an important component of the final selection process. Arrangements can be made for video conference interviews, which must take place before the interview day, if the applicant is unable to travel to campus. Attendance at the in-person interview day is preferred. In additional to giving the faculty a better sense of who you are, it gives you an opportunity to see the school, and meet many members of the CalArts community.