What the best film schools in the world look for in applications

Straight to the point, no-bullshit—this is a list of the best film schools in the world and how to crack their admission process. Spanning the US and EU, with a special mention for the Film and Television Institute in India, this covers the preliminary research aspiring filmmakers have to do to shortlist their dream school so that you can get to work on fulfilling its requirements. 

Here goes: 

TISCH School of Arts NYU (US)

Community service and a distinct voice. The NYU-based prestigious arts school emphasizes that your creative resume can include a list of activities that are not strictly creative, so long as they highlight “an engagement with your community and/or a significant time commitment from you.”

Their list of requirements includes a portfolio with original works, two creative assignments, the resume mentioned above and a video about yourself. The video, specifically, must be true to who you are and should not be a repetition of why you are applying to the school. The rest is up to you. 

Notable alumni include: Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Reed Morano, Joel Coen, M Knight Shyamalan, Charlie Kaufman, Chris Columbus

FAMU (EU)

Lots and lots of work. The school requires quite a hefty portfolio that includes things like a short feature or documentary (up to 10 minutes long), a storyboard presenting a narrative based on an encounter, two short synopses for short fiction films and an audiovisual self-portrait. 

Notable alumni include: Milan Kundera, Frank Beyer, Agnieszka Holland, Milos Forman, Jasmin Dizdar

London Film School (EU) 

Initiative. This film school has a relatively straightforward portfolio requirement: an original script for a three-minute-long film. However, they provide the option of sending in any other creative work, including photographs, videos or even literary pieces. So, get creative and show them what you’ve got—quite literally—in your arsenal. 

Notable alumni include: Iain Smith (Mad Max), Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice), Terry Bredford (Monty Python), Don Boyd (21), Tak Fujimoto (Star Wars, Silence of the Lambs, Gladiator)

American Film Institute (US)

Passion and street smarts that help you tell compelling stories with limited budgets. The institute offers two year masters in fine arts specialising in 6 disciplines—direction, cinematography, screenwriting, editing, production and production design. Admission to each of these programs has different requirements; for instance, the direction course mandates the submission of: 

  • A 10-minutes moving image project that the applicant has personally directed and that best demonstrates individual talent and ability. 
  • An original moving short (five minutes or less) that highlights your storytelling abilities.

Both of these must be accompanied by one-page descriptions of why and how you made these films. 

Notable alumni include: Darren Aronofsky, Neal Baer (Law and Order), Moritz Borman (Terminator Salvation) and Doug Ellin (Entourage)

FTII (Asia) 

Knowledge and a sharp focus on why you want to be a filmmaker. The Pune-based institute has an entrance examination followed by an interview where you must demonstrate why you want to make movies. 

Notable alumni include: Jaya Bachchan, Naseeruddin Shah, David Dhawan, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Rao

University of Southern California, LA (US) 

Quality letters of recommendation as well as good communication skills. In addition to your creative portfolio list or list of projects you have worked on and samples of your work, USC requires a compelling personal statement and two letters of recommendation. 

Notable alumni include: Will Ferrel, Macy Gray, LeVar Burton, Forest Whitaker

UCLA

A keen sense of interest in one of the aspects of filmmaking, for both their Masters and undergraduate programs. The requirements for the undergraduate program also include a one-page essay on a challenge that you have faced. 

Notable alumni include: James Dean, Steve Martin, Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Black, Ben Stiller, Jim Morrison and Ray Manzerek.

Cal Arts (US) 

Plans for the future. This film school wants to know how far along you are on your creative journey and where you want to go. In addition to film or video work, the institute requires an artist statement that addresses the issues that inform your filmmaking, your artistic goals, a little bit about the films you want to make and why you’re applying to Cal Arts. 

Notable alumni include: James Mangold (The Wolverine), Tariq Tapa (Zero Bridge), David Nordstrom and Rachel Goldberg

Lodz Film School 

Versatility. In addition to samples of your work, Lodz requires you to submit a self-presentation on who you are and your life, an outline of an original fiction film, an idea for a documentary and a story board on Landscape, Portrait and your observation of an event with no more than five to eight images. 

Notable alumni include: Roman Polanski, Emily Young, Andrzej Wajda and Krzysztof Zanussi

16 Patriotic Films You Can Watch On Independence Day

Skip ahead and scroll through for our list of 16 patriotic movies to watch on August 15 to celebrate the birth of an independent India, while asking yourself this question: what does it truly mean to be Indian? What does it mean to be patriotic? With a big tub of popcorn, of course. 

Swades

Where: Prime Video

The Shahrukh Khan-starrer that released over a decade ago, Swades is the story of NASA scientist, Mohan Bhargava (Khan) who travels to India to find his childhood nanny and take her back to the States. Instead, he ends up rediscovering his roots. In addition to great performances, the film has an extremely memorable soundtrack and “Yun hi chala chal rahi” still sounds as good as it did in 2004. 

Lakshya

Where: Prime Video

“Main aisa kyun hoon?” a  goal-less, confused young man asks anybody who’ll listen, till he joins the Indian army and finds purpose in life. Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and Amitabh Bachchan are absolutely wonderful in the romantic war-drama that released in 2004 but is still relevant today. 

Lagaan

Where: Netflix

Every Bollywood super fan will tell you that Lagaan has a special place in their hearts. Ashutosh Gowariker’s Oscar-nominated cricket film, set in a village in Pre-Independence India, saw Aamir Khan play the loveable Bhuvan. A story of love, freedom and cricket before it became the country’s favourite sport, Lagaan will have you laughing, crying and cheering for the bunch of bat-wielding misfits as they play the most important cricket game of their lives. 

Viceroy’s House 

Where: Prime Video

You’ll remember the name ‘Lord Mountbatten’ from history lessons in school; he’s the central character of this period drama directed by Bend It Like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha. It follows the journey of India’s final viceroy, Mountbatten, who is tasked with overseeing India’s transition into an independent nation and must mediate between Nehru and Jinnah. 

Rang De Basanti 

Where: Netflix

Still one of Aamir Khan’s finest movies, Rang De Basanti is the story of a British filmmaker who comes to India to shoot a documentary about India’s freedom fighters based on the diary of her grandfather. She eventually goes on to cast a group of privileged, apathetic students for the film that, in dramatic and permanent ways, changes them forever. 

P.S. You’ll want to keep a box of tissues handy for this one, it’s a real tear-jerker. 

Raazi

Where: Prime Video

Alia Bhatt plays a 20-year-old Kashmiri girl who, on her father’s request, agrees to marry into a family of military officials in Pakistan and relay critical information to India in the run-up to the Indo-Pak war. Based on Harinder Sikka’s novel “Calling Sehmat”, the film was directed by Meghna Gulzar and, with a box office collection in excess of Rs 200 crore, it emerged as one of the highest-grossing Bollywood films with a female lead. 

Uri: The Surgical Strike

Where: ZEE5

If you still haven’t watched the film that catapulted Vicky Kaushal straight into superstardom, we highly recommend settling down to watch it this Independence Day. A recounting of the surgical strikes that followed after the deadly Uri attack that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers, the film went on to garner incredible commercial success with a box office collection exceeding Rs 300 crore. 

It also swept the National Awards this year with four wins, including Best Actor to Kaushal for his performance as Major Vihaan Singh. 

1971

An underrated war drama directed by Amrit Sagar, 1971 is the story of six Indian soldiers who are taken prisoners by Pakistan, following the Indo-Pak war in 1971. The film had an ensemble cast that included Manoj Bajpayee, Ravi Kishan, Piyush Mishra and Deepak Dobriyal, and won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi the year that it was released. 

Unfortunately, at the time of publishing this article, the film is not on any OTT streaming platforms but, if you can, get your hands on a DVD and dust off your old player. It’ll be worth it. 

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Where: Hotstar

The biographical sports film directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra follows the journey of Milkha Singh, and how he got the name ‘The Flying Sikh’, 

Paan Singh Tomar 

Where: Netlix

Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Paan Singh Tomar is based on the life of army subedar-turned-steeplechase-champion-turned-dacoit, Paan Singh Tomar who was gunned down in a shootout in Chambal, Madhya Pradesh in 1981. Irrfan Khan breathed life into this role, portraying the record-breaking Indian athlete’s descent into one of the most wanted dacoits of his time subtly yet incredibly powerfully. 

Gandhi, My Father 

The film is prominent because it showed us a different side of the Mahatma by exploring the strained relationship with his son Harilal Gandhi. Starring Akshaye Khanna as Harilal Gandhi and Darshan Jariwala as MK Gandhi, the film is centred around the all-consuming, hatefulclash of ideologies between Bapu and his son. 

Unfortunately, at the time of publishing this article, the film is not on any OTT streaming platforms either. 

Article 15 

Where: You’ll have to see if you can catch this in a theatre near you

No spoilers ahead since the film just released but the Ayushmann Khurrana film is named after Article 15 of the Indian Constitution that prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, caste, religion or place of birth, and inspired by true events such as the Badaun rape and the Una flogging. 

Black Friday 

Where: Prime Video

A docu-drama, directed by Anurag Kashyap, traces the investigation into the 1993 Bombay bomb blasts that left over 200 people dead and more than 1,000 people, wounded. The film explores the perspectives of different people involved in the tragedy – civilians, conspirators and cops – to unpack one of the most devastating terrorist attacks to occur on Indian soil. 

Chak De! India 

Where: Prime Video

Who can forget Shahrukh Khan’s moving speech, delivered as the disgraced coach of the Indian women’s hockey team Kabir Khan, in one of the most popular Bollywood sports films ever? And there’s no better time to revisit it on Independence Day; it’s a story of one man’s deep love for his country that never wavers, even in the face of bigotry and hatred. 

Chak De! India also brought to the talents of Vidya Malvade and Sagarika Ghatge to the fore. 

Mulk

Where: ZEE5

Released in 2018, the film is about a Muslim family that must prove its allegiance to the country when a family member joins a terrorist outfit. Based on a true story, Mulk details the ordeal of Murad Ali Muhammed, a well-regarded lawyer who lives in Varanasi, whose life is turned upside-down when his son joins an extremist terror organisation and executes an attack that leaves many dead. Overnight, everything changes for Murad who must prove his family’s innocence amidst hostility, public shaming and downright hatred. 

Gandhi

Where: Hotstar 

The 1982 film, starring Ben Kingsley, is an in-depth look at the life of the father of our nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and how his path of non-violence led India into its future as a sovereign, independent nation–free from the clutches of British rule.

Which of these patriotic films did you end up watching? Tag @projectmynt in your stories and let us know!

Take Inspiration From These Talented Hollywood Film Directors

Wish to film a story that you always wanted to tell the world? Let’s break the bubble down and make you guys aware of the fact that filmmaking is not just about lights, camera, and action, but a lot more! The art of making a film involves a number of stages including ideation, script writing, casting, shooting, sound recording, editing, and screening. A lot of patience and toil goes in the whole process, especially for the directors.

A film director is a person who oversees the entire process of making the film and controls artistic and dramatic aspects. They also visualize the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. Pheww! Tough job, ain’t it? Not forgetting the budget, their key responsibility is to create a masterpiece without crossing the expenditure limits.

Also read:  How Experiential Learning is the way forward in  India?

We don’t have any favourites but we do look forward to the following directors who have given us some phenomenal movies! Their understanding of the way things should be shot and delivered on the big screen is just incredible.

1. Christopher Nolan – The Master of Spellbinding Cinema

Nolan fan, are you? Christopher Nolan is an extremely talented filmmaker who usually doesn’t fail to surprise his audience with spectacular twists and turns. Known for his cognitive and unconventional storytelling, his intellectual plots will make sure that you stay on your toes until the conclusion. He usually ends up connecting past with the present (yes, a lot of flashbacks) and doesn’t miss to add a pinch of ‘film noir’ perspective in his films.

Born in England (1970), Nolan started making films as a child at the age of 7! He eventually went on to attend University College London, where he studied English literature and joined the school’s film society.

Director Christopher Nolan has taken moviegoers into space exploration for survival, through the crimes of Gotham, and into the deepest bafflement of reality and dream. With top grossing films like Interstellar, The Batman Trilogy, The Prestige, Inception, Memento and many more, Nolan is a director who has a proclivity to indulge in thorough research and give the audience pragmatic and not larger than life characters who with their dialogues and scripts address larger points relevant to all of us. His films do not undermine a viewer’s curiosity and intelligence and always urges viewers to delve deeper.

Christopher Nolan

2. Steven Spielberg – The Epitome of Great Storytelling

Just so that you all know, Steven Spielberg has been in the field of filmmaking for six decades now! And that’s what makes him one of the most successful directors of Hollywood. Being a dropout and facing rejection to USC film school due to poor grades teaches us that it’s not always about marks but our dreams and the passion to pursue them. Spielberg then started off as an unpaid intern in the editing department of Universal.

The Oscar-winning director pioneered the practice of product placement and special- effects in movies influenced by the pop-culture. Using powerful flashlights in dark/night scenes, showing images of the sun, depicting kids in danger and/or bad relationships, discovering extraordinary species and using the cutting-in-camera technique are just some of the trademark Spielberg-movie-traits. He is also famous for his proactive nature that includes suggesting angles or shot ideas on set.

Spielberg is known for breaking boundaries across genres and making films as diverse as The Adventures of Tintin to Amistad to Munich. Not to miss the dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park that broke all the records, Steven has got a bent towards commercial stuff with some of the highest-grossing films ever! But without Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Jaws, our list of favourites would not have been complete.

3. James Wan – The King of Horror Flicks

Best known for showcasing the horror world on the big screen, James Wan ought to be on this list! Insidious and The Conjuring franchise top our list of favourite Wan movies. Saw, which was inspired by Wan and Leigh Whannell’s dreams, got an overwhelming response at the box-office in 2004. The Conjuring was critically acclaimed and got many people to start loving horror films. The Annabelle doll became a synonym to demonic figures worldwide and Wan’s continued involvement in this project with similar visual styles, classic old-school storytelling, and numerous jumping moments proves that he is here to stay.

If you wish to film a scary story, then you must pay close attention to James Wan’s incredible work. According to him, the smallest things can create a big impact and real horror lies in the sound. “A creaking door can send chills up your spine, and it doesn’t cost anything.” Even a low-budget horror story can work wonders!

He aims at breaking the audience’s expectation by playing with their emotions and fear. For instance, Lights Out is based on a classic fear that lots of people face – fear of darkness. As a director, James Wan very well knows where & how to place a camera or how to get that reaction. Impressed much? We are!

4. Quentin Tarantino – Action, Action, and Some More Action

Great dialogues and wonderfully shot action scenes packed with loads of drama and humour – that’s the recipe of a Tarantino movie. With Pulp Fiction, he has become a legend and we just can’t agree more! The best part about his films is the way he portrays women – strong, witty, independent; breaking the mainstream. Being a director with no formal training in filmmaking, Tarantino sets a perfect example that experience is the best teacher and nothing can stop you from doing what you really want to do.

Some of his successful films include Jackie Brown, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight. The 15-minute-long opening scene of Inglourious Basterds could not have been shot better by anyone in this whole world.

Actors driving vehicles, showcasing cult fiction, adding the Dutch element, guns & briefcases, unique storytelling with extreme close-ups, violence and revenge, offering comebacks to cult actors, killer soundtracks, your favourite characters dying horrifically, etc. are a few characteristics of why we love Tarantino movies.

Getting inspired from these directors and paving your own way towards success is what your aim should be. Remember, there is a thin line between inspiration and imitation. Unique techniques matter a lot in the film industry for they can get you utmost appreciation and self-confidence.

We can help you tell your story!

Project MyNT is all set to introduce its filmmaking course offering a great opportunity for students to put their dreams into action! This is an interactive course to explain and train those eager to learn the skills needed to tell stories through film.

Powered by internships and training under highly experienced mentors, our curriculum is inclusive of numerous clips or films to be shown in theme-based classes. It would require the students to be verbose about what kind of cinema they like, how aware are they of the process, and mainly what is it that they’re looking to learn from this course.

Enrol today!