Two female students looking through a viewfinder.

Applying to college can be stressful! Especially when you’re applying to film school. To apply to the NYU Tisch Film and Television program, you must complete the NYU Common Application and a lengthy creative portfolio. Here are some tips for creating your NYU film portfolio from someone who’s been there!

Tisch School of the Arts’ facade.

Start Early!

With two essays, a film, a résumé, and a creative submission, the Tisch film portfolio is one of the lengthiest applications around. The process of creating your portfolio should take about as long as is does to complete the NYU Common Application, if not longer. Therefore, you should start working on your Common Application and artistic portfolio as soon as possible! It takes time to write essays, shoot a short film, and/or edit a photo series. This is not an application that you can pull an all-nighter to finish.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute!

The good news is you don’t have to wait until you submit your Common Application to start your portfolio. You can start adding materials to your SlideRoom as soon as you create your Common Application account. In addition, a detailed list of the portfolio requirements is always available on the Tisch website.

A female student taking a photograph.
Students huddle around a film camera.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Short and Simple)

Not too long ago, when I was making my own film portfolio, I remember feeling like I was creating the most important piece of my life. For some reason, I felt as though my five-minute short film needed to be the most beautiful, profound, and cinematic thing my admissions representative would ever see if I had any chance of getting in. I want to let you know that this is not the case. Your portfolio film does not have to be your pièce de résistance.

Use Your Five Minutes, Six Pages, or 15 Images to Tell a Simple Story

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to create beautiful cinematography, if there’s a bit of background noise in one of your shots, or if you don’t have access to a fancy camera. There’s a popular saying about the Tisch film program: “You can be admitted without having ever picked up a camera.” The saying is a bit dated because nowadays we have powerful cameras built into our cell phones, but the idea behind it still holds true. Don’t fixate on all the technical aspects of filmmaking; you’ll learn all that when you get to Tisch. The creative submission is all about telling a story in the best way you know how.

Students working together around a camera.

Talk About Yourself

Last, but certainly not least, talk about yourself. What are your interests outside of filmmaking? Where do you see yourself in five years? What is one thing you couldn’t live without? One of my favorite parts about the film portfolio is that it gives you so many opportunities to talk about yourself. The people who read your application genuinely want to know more about the person behind the film.

There Are No Right or Wrong Answers. Just Let Them Know What an Amazingly Cool Person You Are!

Now go forth and create some amazing creative portfolios! If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to the Admissions Ambassadors or contact Film and TV Undergraduate Admissions.


*As ranked by the Hollywood Reporter.

Zani is an Assistant Director of Admissions for NYU Abu Dhabi and the Global Admissions team, based in New York. She is also a NYU Tisch alumna, former RA and Admissions Ambassador. She is a travel enthusiast and vegan foodie. In her free time you can catch her directing independent documentary films.