Creativity and the Application

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Do you hear that sound? I’m sure you do. It’s the sound of inevitability. This is the season in which the call to action rises. When I say “season” I’m not talking about autumn or winter or even football season. I’m talking about Columbia College Chicago application season. The stressful time when a life altering pursuit of a passion hinges on carefully crafted answers. No pressure. You’re probably thinking, “Is he serious?” I am. There doesn’t need to be, and I’m going to tell you why.

Many people have asked me for help with the upcoming application. Some applicants want to know what I submitted to get in and others want me to proof their answers. Let me be honest with you. Is that OK? Good. Having me tell you what to submit is a huge mistake. The true master of your content is…wait for it…you. What I can do is give you suggestions on how to approach the application.

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When I approach an application, I think about the purpose. For me, and now for you, the purpose of this particular application is to get into Columbia College Chicago. Therefore, you have to remember that you’re about to commit at least two years of your life to developing your unique point of view as it pertains to visual storytelling (or creative writing or dance/movement therapy or education or arts management or whatever other program you’re interested in). Make sure they (the folks reviewing your application) know that…and that you’re serious about it.

Here’s a trick I use to get that point across. I try to pinpoint a memorable moment that inspired or influenced me. Recalling the emotions attached to that moment allows me to create a specific piece that I can relate to personally and emotionally.

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You may ask, “How did you come up with that picture?” Let’s try my trick. I started with a seemingly mundane personal event; working at an office job I didn’t like. Then I ask, “What is it about the job that annoys me?” The repetitive work makes me feel detached. Yes! That’s a real emotion. Let’s take that a little further. Maybe I feel like I’m going through the motions. What type of person goes through the motions? Someone with out control. If I don’t have control of my body, I feel like a puppet, or a doll. A doll is inanimate. I’ll put a doll behind a desk to visually represent that emotion. And that’s how a Teddy Bear starts typing.

I believe the most compelling works created in the Film & Video – Cinema Directing MFA program at Columbia are founded in some concrete emotional state. Therefore, by being able to lock into your own emotions, you become the best author of your work. You don’t need an outsider to tell you what to write, because your work will be honest and unique. Try it and you should be fine.