Department of Film-Video and Media Studies

Film-Video Entrance to Major Requirements

Guidelines for Portfolio Review for Entrance to the Film-Video Major

Students are only admitted into the FILM major starting in the fall semester each year, and students admitted should expect a four-semester sequence of film courses over the next two years. To be considered for entry to the major, students must have earned fourth semester standing (43.5 credits completed and/or in progress) AND have completed at least one full-time semester (12-plus credits) at Penn State.

Students submitting portfolios are required to have successfully completed COMM 150 and COMM 242 with a grade of C or better to submit their portfolio. It is each student’s responsibility to contact an academic adviser or campus representative regarding an early change of assignment to University Park when necessary to meet this requirement.

Students must submit a portfolio consisting of the following items:

  1. An informational cover sheet (name, email, term standing).
          Download and print the cover sheet and checklist. 

      Cover Sheet/  Checklist

  2. A current Penn State transcript.

    To obtain a transcript, go to eLion and click on Advising > Transcript > View Advising Transcript and scroll to the bottom to print the transcript. The two prerequisite courses (COMM 150 and COMM 242) should be listed on the trancript as either completed or in progress. It does not need to be an official transcript.

  3. The creative writing exercise.

Write a narrative inspired by a significant moment from your life from the perspective of an outside observer. It should be double spaced, 12-point Courier font, 250-300 words. Seemingly small moments in our lives often turn out to be significant turning points. The way we see the world, and other people in it, is changed as a result of that particular experience. Use one such moment of realization from you life as a starting point for a short story where a character undergoes a change of awareness as a result of witnessing that moment.

  4. A sample of creative work.

    Creative work for the portfolio can come from projects created in COMM 242, projects done for other courses or work created independently. The piece should represent your best work. Creative work must take ONE of the following forms:

    • A video or film, no more than 5 minutes in length, over which the applicant had primary creative control.  Work must be submitted on a DVD or flash drive in in a QuickTime (.mov) file.
    • A screenplay, presented in proper screenplay format, no more than seven pages in length, authored by the applicant.
  5. A written statement

    A statement (double-spaced, 12-point Courier font) contextualizing the submitted creative work consisting of the following elements:

    • A list of the following factual information:

      -- Title
-- Format and length (i.e., film, video, or script)
      -- When and where made (i.e, date, place, course # if applicable, etc.)
      -- Applicant’s role (i.e., director, author, etc.)
-- Other crew members or collaborators and their roles
      -- If applicable: teacher, supervisor or mentor involved with supervision of your project
-- Name, title or position, phone and of above
    • A description of the ideas you hoped to present through the piece, and a discussion of how you used images, sound, character development, and/or editing techniques to convey your concepts. (100 words)
    • Your assessment of the aesthetic and technical strengths and weaknesses of the piece. (100 words)

For more infomation, consult the Frequently Asked Questions.

Deadline for Portfolio admission to the film-video major

Students must submit their application between 8:30 a.m. on the first day of finals week of SPRING semester and 4:30 p.m. on Friday of the same week. Any portfolios received after the Friday of finals week will not be reviewed.

All components of the portfolio application should be submitted in a manila envelope clearly labeled with the student’s name. Students should download and print a copy of the portfolio checklist, and include the checklist in the envelope.

Portfolios should be mailed or hand-delivered between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to:

Film-Video Portfolio Review Committee
College of Communications
204 Carnegie Building
Penn State
University Park, PA 16802

Students will receive email notification confirming the receipt of their portfolio application.

Portfolio Review

The faculty will review all portfolios after the close of the spring semester, reporting their decisions to the applicants via email on or about June 1.

Portfolio Evaluation Criteria

Students are evaluated and admitted to the program based on the quality of their submission materials.

  • Transcript: Evidence of academic success, particularly in courses relevant to the film-video major. If spring semester grades are not yet available when you submit your application, the review committee will update your transcript when the grades are posted. 
  • Creative writing exercise: Demonstrate ability to express original ideas and artistic vision in written form.
  • Creative work: Film or video piece: Demonstrate technical ability and a sense of good visual storytelling; Screenplay: Demonstrate ability to express original ideas through creative storytelling in the proper written format.
  • Written statement: Demonstrate positive personal engagement with the learning process and an ability to contextualize and reflect on your work.

Please note: In order to assure integrity, fairness, and impartiality in the admission process, students submitting a portfolio application to the film-video major are expected to assemble the portfolio without outside assistance from film-video faculty. It is an integral part of the self-presentation process for students to make their own decisions in selecting the creative work sample that they feel best represents their own creative abilities and interests, and to compose the creative writing exercise independently. Film-video faculty therefore cannot, and will not, review or comment on any portfolio materials outside of the official review process.

Scheduling Film Courses as a Film-Video Major

The junior core courses (COMM 337, 338, 339, 340 and 342W) are controlled for students entering the major in the fall semester. Students will not be able to schedule the junior core film-video courses until after the portfolio review decisions have been made in May. You should schedule other fall classes that you need (besides those required for the film-video major) on your first date to schedule based on the number of credits you will have earned after completing the spring semester.

It is also recommended that you schedule fall courses for an alternate major during your regular spring scheduling period. If you are accepted into the film-video major, the advising center will assist you in adding the core junior film courses to your fall schedule.

Revised (4/25/14)

Page last updated: February 25, 2015