campus encounters

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Archive for the tag “Screenwriting”

UNC School of the Arts

UNC School of the Arts (visited 3/17/17)

UNCSA statues 2This is a really impressive school! I walked away ready to gush over it to students looking to go into the arts. Although there was not an information session, per se, they did show us the school’s “Awe and Wonder” video before taking us out on tour; it’s worth a watch.

This is UNC institution, but the admissions rep told me that they are not bound by the 18% out-of-state rule, and in fact, they pull almost half of their student body from outside North Carolina. Although run very much as a conservatory, students do need to complete liberal arts coursework, usually 1-2 classes per semester. “Our liberal arts classes are usually in the morning. By noon, we’ve moved onto our major classes and are there well into the evening,” said the tour guide. He has design classes for set-building that run until 11pm twice a week.

UNCSA display 3

Some of the student-made costumes

There are 5 main areas of study:

 

  • Dance: modern ballet or contemporary dance
  • Music: Composition or Performance
  • Design and Production: This has the most options within the division, including Scene Design, Stage Properties, Stage Management, Wig & Makeup Design, Sound Design, Scenic Technology, Lighting, and Costume Design & Technology
    • UNCSA lighting specs

      lighting specs for a current production

      They go through all the rotations as freshmen to understand what all the different areas do and are more able to work together since none of this exists in a vacuum.

    • In the 2nd year, they choose a concentration
    • They have a prosthetics studio!
    • This is the only school with a Wig and Makeup Design specialty
    • Costume Design and Costume Tech are 2 different things:
      • Design creates the 2D conceptual drawings and do the initial creative work.
      • Tech takes the Designers’ drawings and create the pattern, take actors’ measurements, and then create the actual physical costume. They need to understand how fabrics work. “They’re kind of like engineers.”
      • They do have a Dance Costume class to give students a sense of what this entails, but most students do not specialize in this.
      • They usually bring in 6-9 students a year (out of about a dozen accepted).
    • UNCSA display 2

      Wigs, Prosthetics, and props for past productions

      Drama: acting or directing

      • The 3 main theaters on campus serve as production spaces as well as classrooms.
      • The Thrust Theater has a turntable on it
      • The Black Bock is huge and everything is movable. There’s a tension grid for the techs which can be walked on. This will be updated soon. “It was state-of-the-art 8 years ago, but technology changes.”
    • Filmmaking: Screenwriting, Animation, Cinematography, Directing, Producing, Production Design & Special Effects, and Picture Editing & Sound Design
      • There are soundstages on campus, but students are also allowed to film within 20-25 miles of campus. “Those trucks over there will get loaded up on the weekends and off they go.”
UNCSA soundstage

One of the sound stages

Facilities are outstanding; we walked through sound stages, prop rooms, design workshops, theaters, costume making workshops with literally walls of fabric, and “Narnia,” a warehouse of costumes stacked 2-racks high. In prop rooms, our tour guide said, “We have lots of connections: different places will lend us equipment or even donate their old stuff.”

Although there are only about 1000 students on campus, they manage to put on 1000+ events annually. “We don’t have sports because we don’t have time,” said the tour guide.

UNCSA set design

Set and prop design

UNCSA is the only conservatory-focused school on Money Magazine’s list of more than 700 schools, and is the #1 school in NC. Program standards are high. Students are creative as well as having a business focus; they think about budgets and schedules. They make things happen. “That’s imperative in this world,” said the sophomore Design and Production major who was leading the tour. This pays off with 96% of graduates having a job in their field within 6 months of graduation.

UNCSA posters

Some of the student productions on campus

According to the Awe and Wonder video, “Top professionals in their fields come here to teach by doing. Students are ready to go into the workforce.” During our tour, we got to talk to 2 students concentrating in Wig and Makeup Design who were working in one of the labs. They couldn’t say enough about the program or the faculty. I asked how many of the professors were still working in the field. “All of them. I’m pretty sure it’s a school requirement that they’re active. A lot of them come in a few days a week to teach because they’re still working.”

UNCSA display 4

A miniature set-design done before the full-size was created

“I really love the faculty. They’re willing to work with us and let us try things out. The attitude is ‘Let’s figure it out and make it happen!’” said the tour guide.

Masters Classes are held regularly. Producers, directors, and lots of other people come in to run these. “There’s even one on how to live in New York!” The students said that these are great ways to start making connections with people in the industry. They’ve lead to internships and shadowing opportunities. Students are always out working and getting experience whether its with a local festival or in LA, NYC, or another major area.

UNCSA dorms 2

Dorms

There are a variety of dorm options from traditional to apartments, but “many students move off” after the 2-year residency requirement. There are plenty of rental places in town. Cars are allowed and parking is decent. Shuttles run periodically to the mall and to downtown. Food “is a 7. It’s nourishment, but there are some options around.”

UNCSA 4Admissions requires a portfolio, and interview, and/or a audition. Often students will sit with faculty in their intended area to talk through their preparation and what they hope to do/their trajectory. This helps them make sure they’re in the right program and lets people counsel out students who might do better at a different type of institution (like a comprehensive school). “This is not a fit for everyone!”

“If you’re a loner, think you can do it all on your own, or are arrogant, you won’t make it here. That being said, you don’t have to fit into a mold. There are lots of quirky people here and that’s cool! We all get along.”

© 2017

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Chapman University

Chapman University (Information Session/Lunch, 9/26/16)

I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Chapman, located in Orange Country, California. However, they hosted a lunch in DC last week; in attendance was an admissions rep and 5 or 6 recent alumni residing in the DMV area. I sat across from one (class of 2015) and 2 seats down from another (class of 2013). After a brief update from the Rep on programs and new things on campus, we had the rest of lunch to speak with alumni. This was a fabulous way to get to know about the feel of the school and some of the programs.

I was impressed that the Admissions office could send a blanket invitation to about 50 alumni in the DC area inviting them to lunch in exchange for talking to us. They did not screen the people who came; they trusted that they were excited about their experiences. They were right. The alumni couldn’t say enough about Chapman. They were articulate, excited, happily employed – and they say they’re the rule, not the exception. The woman across from me had been accepted into many of the UCs but chose Chapman. “It was absolutely the best choice. I was able to do so much there that I couldn’t have done other places. For examples, I had an idea for a conference, went to people, pitched it, and it happened. That’s what makes Chapman unique. I could plan, run, and budget a program. This isn’t unusual. Students do it all the time.”

She was also a First-Gen student so I asked her about support systems. “It’s there. It’s REALLY there. I had people reaching out to me all the time. However, I was not far from my family, I feel like I had a lot of support and knew how to run with things. I didn’t take advantage of these things, but in some ways, it was comforting to know it was there if I did need it. I finally reached out to them, told them I was doing great, and said that they could take me off the list so they could focus their energy on other students who might need the help more than I did.”

The Honors Program is a minor and takes an interdisciplinary approach. “That was the coolest part for me,” said the alum sitting a couple seats down. They have AMAZING minors (in addition to a lot of usual, more traditional ones) such as Holocaust History, Organismal Biology, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Studies, and Law/Justice/Social Control.

Updates on programs, buildings, and academics include:

Dodge College of Film and Media Arts is one of the best in the country. Most of the programs in this college are BFAs, including Screen Acting, Screenwriting, Creative Producing, and Television Writing and Production. Film Production is their most competitive major with a 5-10% acceptance rate (Compared to about a 51% acceptance rate for other programs. Students should put in a second choice, but know that there is rarely a space to transfer in.

Chapman has 6500 undergraduates. This year, they have 100 more freshman than anticipated, so there are going to be some more students in triples. They guarantee first year housing but not past that. Generally, though, people who want to stay, can. They’re located in a residential area: there are lots of nearby houses and apartments to rent within a 5-10 minute walk. Usually, they learned about places through older friends already off campus. Both of the alumni had lived off campus and never had a problem finding a place. One of them, as a senior, lived closer to her classes than she did in the dorms.

Average GPA of accepted students is 3.76. They look at 10th and 11th grade classes plus first semester of 12th grade if the student applies Regular Decision. They recalculate GPA based on Core Classes (including religion if it’s required at the high school) plus any classes related to the major. They’ll add weight to IB and AP classes; if the high school does not offer these, they’ll add weight to honors classes. Average test scores are 1880 (Old SAT) and 28 ACT; they superscore SAT but not ACT.

© 2016

Point Park University

POINT PARK UNIVERSITY (visited 5/24/16)

point park signs

Signs lining the streets around the campus

Point Park is a small, very urban university set right in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh. The modern, well-maintained buildings are clustered mostly within about 4 blocks, although there are a couple outliers located another block or two away from the main part of campus. There are several plazas (including one with a “water-wall,” a fountain running down the side of the building) that were well utilized by students. Students and people from town were using the areas to socialize, read, and study. Security is good; all buildings require a swiped ID card or signing in with a security guard.

Point Park mascot

The school mascot

This is still a regional school; about ¾ of the 2500 undergrads are from Pennsylvania. Just over 1000 live on campus in 5 dorms and an apartment building (reserved for upperclassmen). We spoke with 5 grad students who were sitting on one of the patios during a break from class. Two had done their undergrad work here, as well. When we asked them if we should send students here, they enthusiastically said, “YES!!” Students are happy on campus: “there are tons of activities, and of course, Pittsburgh has lots to do, too.”

point park COPA

The performance center

Students who do well here are quirky and artsy, even those not in COPA. Students really must want an urban environment. One of the students we talked to was from “really rural Western New York.” I asked her about her transition to PPU: “My first year was tough. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. There are lots of parties here, but I got it figured out. I had to adjust to the urban environment, too, but I made that choice. I wanted to come here. I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I grew up here.”

Point Park bridge

A walkway connecting 2 academic buildings.

Graduation rates hover around the national average. “A lot of people leave because it’s TOO urban. They thought they wanted a city campus, but they don’t quite get what it’s really like until they get here. There’s no traditional campus, and they want that AND a city.”

Point Park fountain wall

A plaza with a “water wall”

I had always pictured Point Park as a performing arts school, and it is best known for these programs, but it is so much more than that! It has a surprising number of “academic” majors (in the students’ words). “A lot of the professors are have worked for a long time in the field they’re teaching. They really know what they’re talking about. They make it real.”

Point Park acad bldg

One of the Academic Buildings

A few non-performing arts majors worth noting include several in their School of Communication: Broadcast Production and Media Management, Photojournalism, Environmental Journalism, and Public Relations and Advertising. “They’re putting in new media outlets. I didn’t even know that they had a School of Business, but it’s going strong with Economics and Finance, Human Resource Technology, and Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management among other more traditional programs. The College of Arts and Sciences is robust. Psychology may be the one of the strongest programs, but they offer some really unusual programs such as Funeral Service, Global Cultural Studies, Engineering Technology (specializing in Civil, Electrical, or Mechanical), and Intelligence and National Security.

Point Park courtyard 1

One of the plazas on campus

COPA, the Conservatory of Performing Arts, does remain the “flagship” college of Point Park, offering majors within 3 main areas: Dance, Theater, and Cinema Arts. Some of the more unusual programs include Dance Pedagogy, Theater Production (with concentrations in Technical Design/Management, Stage Management, or Design), Screenwriting (they also offer an MFA in this), Animation and Visual Effects, and Cinema Production.

Point Park courtyard

Another plaza

Applicants to COPA have to be admitted to Point Park AND to COPA. Students must have a complete application on file before scheduling an interview, but should not wait have their acceptance or that could also delay the audition and admission process to COPA.

One of the students summed up Point Park this way: “It’s completely worth it!”

© 2016

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