One of my little sisters is graduating from high school this year and it's really gotten me thinking about my own senior year of high school. All I wanted was to be accepted into USC's film production program...and somehow, I was.
I've gotten asked the question ALOT over the years: "How did you get into USC's Production program"? Well, here is what I've come to realize over the years, looking at both myself and my fellow classmates.
First of all, everyone from my year of Production had SAT scores and grades that were above average for USC. So BE SMART. Most of the kids in Production would probably be going to a "higher-calibur" school if they didn't get into a program as prestigious as USC film. That's one of the reason why you run into so many production kids who have full ride scholarships or partial scholarships....they are the really smart kids.
Second, you gotta be really creative. This is the main thing USC is looking for when selecting Production applicants.
Third, be a great writer. My mom told me that at orientation all the parents of Production students were sitting around trying to figure out what their kids had in common (and thus how they got into the program) and the one thing that everyone seemed to be really good at (according to their parents)was writing. Even though we weren't in the screenwriting program, its important to all film degrees.
Fourth, don't send movies as samples. I know we are all proud of our dinky little high school movies, but USC actually doesn't want to see them! Unless they are Academy Award Short Film contenders....keep 'em to yourself. USC doesn't want to see you already making cinematic mistakes; they would rather start with clean slates. For the record, I didn't send a single video....and I had many.
Fifth, and most importantly, passion. Everyone I know from my program is incredibly passionate about film. They don't want to do anything else with their lives and it shows. Obsessed with film as a kid, I had always felt kind of like an alien. But then I came to USC, and it was like I had finally landed on this planet where everyone loved movies as much as I did. I felt totally at home, like I'd finally found where I belonged.
Well hopefully that is a tad helpful. It's what I tell any prospective students I speak with. And I think its pretty good advice!