Screenwriting : Writing Sample For Film School by Tony Cella

Tony Cella

Writing Sample For Film School

I'm applying for a screenwriting M.F.A. program in the winter. Besides good ones, what type of scripts do film school academics prefer? Are action, horror and low brow comedy a tough sell? Advice please.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Tony: Depending on how many scripts you've written, I'd give them your most arty, adventurous one.

Coletta Preacely-Garcia

I agree. I'd go for the one that you feel is your best example of what you write and how you like to write.

Tony Cella

I'm half-way finished with the first draft of an indie-comedy about a roller derby team, which is one of my stronger narrative pieces. At the same time, I have a low brow indie-comedy that's garnered the interest of a director and a production company. The second feature has a weaker story-line, but has been compared to Kevin Smith's better work and received praise for its authentic dialogue. The roller derby would be better for my portfolio, but the one that's heading toward production is more heavily revised and has been polished. Which would you go with?

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

Tony: Roller Derby one

Tony Cella

Thank you both for the advice. Anyone else?

Regina Lee

Disclaimer: I have no personal experience reading for an admissions process. Quality in any genre will win over a fair reader. In fact, taste could work in your favor. If the reader "hates" horror, but you send him a great horror script, even that harsh critic will be impressed. "Man I hate horror, but that guy won me over! Even I have to say this is a helluva horror script." You're Aces. For an application, make it about your best work. Not about the genre. No matter what happens, you'll know that you put your best work out there. No regrets! You can't control what your competition is writing and you can't control the taste of your readers. You can only control the quality of your own work, so you gotta let it ride with your best script.

Regina Lee

That said, yeah, like Phillip said, I'd try to avoid formulaic storytelling for an application. Which doesn't mean to avoid genre conventions.

Tony Cella

@Regina Lee: That's a good point. I'm surprised by the open mindedness because M.F.A. creative writing programs are notorious for only accepting literary fiction, as opposed to genre or commercial work. @Oliver White: Good video. Thank you.

Regina Lee

@Tony, again, I have no experience in Academic Admissions so do not let me ruin your life!! I know a woman in USC Undergrad Admissions. Not MFA. She says, like most schools, they need a diverse class. So let's say 500 writers apply with a horror script, well, your horror script will not stand out that much in this year's applicant pool. Still, you can't control what other people are doing. You can only control your own work.

Tony Cella

Haha. I won't let anyone else take credit for my failures, Regina. Don't worry.

Coletta Preacely-Garcia

Tony I am a film school graduate form Chapman University. I wrote an original drama script, so go for it, write your best.

Lewis Ritter

I think they are looking for excellent writing more than specific genres.

Pete Stone

I would reccomend go with the one you are most passionate about that represents you most since this one will likley have your best writing.

Tony Cella

Thanks for the advice everyone.

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