Film & Cinematography
Film/Cinematography Portfolio Requirement
Applicants for the Film or Cinematography programs, both freshman and transfer, must submit a film portfolio in addition to the other application requirements. You must complete the following requirement after submitting your Common Application, Emerson Supplement, and application fee payment:
- Register for a free account online and upload a video of up to five minutes (less than 120 MB) OR upload a 5-10 page script.
- Our Slideroom website offers additional instructions for submitting work online. To upload a script, follow the instructions for uploading a film, but choose PDF as your upload format. To convert a Word document to PDF, choose File>Save As>PDF.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Emerson College looking for from a portfolio?
Your portfolio is both an audition and a creative work in its own right. We look at portfolios to see your current skills and to assess your potential. Your portfolio should showcase your creativity, feature meaningful content, and demonstrate your artistic sensibility and technical sophistication. Yet your portfolio should also stand on its own. How you achieve these sometimes competing goals is ultimately up to you. For example, sometimes your artistic sensibility will require you to abandon complex craftsmanship. Do not be afraid to be brave or bold in your choices.
How much money should I spend in making the videos for my portfolio?
We do not judge applicants based on their resources. We’ve accepted applicants who submitted works range from a shot of someone talking to the camera to those that used a cast of dozens.
What kind of film does Emerson College want?
There is no formula for a sure-fire portfolio. It can be narrative, documentary, or experimental. It can be a music video for a band, a clip tape set to music, a dance, or lip-synched scene. We’ve seen everything from a documentary on colony collapse disorder to an ad for jeans. It can be an anti-war video or two guys on a trampoline. Personal confessions and homages to great directors have caught our interest, as have well-choreographed fight scenes. It can use a 35mm camera, a camcorder, a cell phone, still photos, a typewriter, or a videogame’s 3-D graphics rendering engine. Anything goes.
Do you have practical advice on putting together the portfolio?
Take the time to do quality control. Watch the whole video you submit on Slideroom. Is the compression rate right? Is the sound distorted? Does it use the entire frame? You put a great deal of effort into making your submission look good on your screen. Make sure it looks good on our side.
Make your hook count. Whether you’re doing a clip tape, a narrative piece, or several shorts, make a good first impression by getting your best work before your audience early. After all, hundreds of people submit portfolios to Emerson College. Make your portfolio stand out from the crowd.
Get someone with a critical eye to look over your work. Do you really need that shot of your character brushing his teeth? Can you set up your narrative more efficiently? Are you better off submitting your best 90 seconds of video than stretching it out to five minutes? Do not waste screen time. Editing is about more than just stitching together shots; it’s also about creating a cohesive piece. Show that you know how to make hard decisions about your work. You do not have to use the full five minutes and using less time is not held against you.
If your work is not in English, please either subtitle it or provide a written translation with your portfolio.