Whenever I explain to people that working in the film industry is one of my goals, I can usually count on them to flash a smile and make a comment that sounds something like: “Well, whatever happens, at least you’re in the right city!”
True, Los Angeles—Hollywood—is the hub of the entertainment business. People flock here from all over the world to pursue their dreams as screenwriters, directors, actors, editors, executives—and with such a concentration of motivated individuals (many of whom have already spent years practicing their craft), as well as a plethora of resources, it can be daunting to figure out where you fit in and explore your cinematic interests if you don’t have extensive experience. With that said, I’d like to share a few ways you can get involved in film here at UCLA. (If you’re interested in creative writing, specifically, please check out this post that JoAnna, the Assistant Director for WSP, wrote in February!)
Film Major / Film Minor
First of all: Melnitz. The School of Theater, Film, and Television, located in Melnitz Hall (way North Campus), is where anyone taking film classes will inevitably spend time in. Whether you’re a film student spending a sleepless night in one of the editing labs upstairs, or a biology major fulfilling a GE requirement by watching The Godfather in the James Bridges Theater for Professor Kuntz’s FTV 106A (History of the American Motion Picture), Melnitz is a hallowed hall to explore. The walls, lined with hundreds of movie posters, create a thrilling, sobering ambiance that I’d describe as the cross-section between glamour, passion, creativity, insomnia, and hunger.
Anyway, if you’re interested in studying film, I’d recommend that you spend your first year and a half getting involved in different film-related spaces here on campus (see examples below). That way you can apply to the film school midway into your second year. If you’re invited for an interview and they accept you into the two-year film program, you’ll no longer be in the College of Letters and Science (or whatever department you entered UCLA in). Instead, you’ll be in the School of Theater, Film, and Television.
The film major is very hands-on: you’ll learn how to work with a camera, how to write a screenplay, how to edit. No experience is necessary. It goes without saying that the program is incredibly competitive: only fifteen students are accepted per year. If you don’t get into the major, or don’t want to be in the major but still want to take film classes, apply for the film minor instead! It’s a lot less hands-on and much more theoretical or lecture-based. You need to take at least three classes on a checklist that you can access on the department website before you can apply. The application consists of a packet that includes a one- to two-page essay explaining why you want to study film and how the minor will help you achieve your goals.
Delta Kappa Alpha, Film and Photography Society, Video Production Crew, Studio 22
Delta Kappa Alpha (DKA) is UCLA’s only professional cinema fraternity. Essentially, you get to collaborate with other driven students who want to enter the film industry after they graduate by developing social bonds, working on quarterly productions, hosting public events, inviting guest speakers from the industry to give master-classes, and honing leadership skills. It’s a great way to connect to filmmakers at other schools (DKA is a national fraternity with chapters around the U.S.) as well as an ever-expanding alumni network that features names like Hitchcock and Spielberg. DKA is co-ed and has one of the lowest dues of national fraternities. For more information, check out their website or attend Spring Rush next quarter during second week!
The Film and Photography Society (FPS) and the Video Production Crew (VPC) are two other great (and free!) ways to get hands-on experience in film. They have quarterly productions that you can sign up to work on, as well as social events in which you can get to know other club members better. You can be members of both clubs as well as DKA or any other on-campus film organizations! Try all of them out to see which one best fits you!
Studio 22 is a multimedia production space designed to support UCLA students with any multimedia project they may be working on. You can get access to great equipment and other resources for you to realize your visions! To get involved, you can join the Multi-Media Artists Collective, be volunteer talent on Studio 22 (news anchor, actor, location reporter, etc.), join VPC (mentioned above), or apply for a paid job at Studio 22 with Residential Life.
Bruin Film Society, Melnitz Movies, Hammer screenings
If you’re interested more in watching movies, check out the Bruin Film Society, which gets together weekly to watch a new movie and discuss it; Melnitz Movies, which is a program of film screenings that happen at James Bridges Theater; and screenings of many archived films at the Billy Wilder Theater in the Hammer Museum, which is in walking distance from campus.