How To Apply



Can I apply to more than one program at once?


I already participated in one program, do I have to apply and be accepted to participate in a different one?
In short, yes. As part of our alumni, you will most likely forgo the initial screening process, but to ensure we are providing the best quality experience for each attendee, we must judge each specific application based on it’s own merit.


What kind of applicants are you looking for?
We are looking for up-and-coming filmmakers, writers and other creators who are on their way to a promising creative career.  The ideal candidate would be a current film school or MFA student or recent graduate, or someone who has worked in the entertainment industry or other media enterprise. You should have at least one completed screenplay, short film or other written work that shows off your talent level.   (Substitute books or short stories for screenplays and films if you are interested in the Calliope Workshop and MFA scholarships.)

You must have a college-level command of the English language and be able to work legally in the United States.  You must be at least 21 years of age or older at the time of the program start date (as applicable).  You also should demonstrate a passion for individual liberty and a free society.

Internship applicants must be prepared to follow a regular work schedule throughout the three-month period of the program.  Having a familiarity with the screenplay coverage process is also a plus for the internship.

SmashCut Film Lab fellows will not receive any living-expense assistance, so if you’re working, you must be prepared to work many spare hours per week (maybe 10-20) in addition to your regular job.

Actress Jessica Stroup (FOX’s The Following) prepares for her scene in the SmashCut Film Lab experimental sci-fi thriller Freedom HUD

What are the criteria for the SmashCut Film program?
Here are some of the criteria upon which applicants to the SmashCut Film Lab will be judged:

1)  Quality of your treatment:  Things we will be looking for here include originality, entertainment value, its feasibility within the budgetary and time restraints, and whether it explores the theme of liberty in an effective (e.g., subtle, powerful) or interesting ways.

2)  Talent level:  Does the applicant demonstrate skill or talent in the craft of filmmaking or storytelling in the work you’ve submitted as your sample (or other work)?

3)  Background:  We’ll look at things like your education, any special training, and your work experience.

4)  Ideals:  Are you on board with the ideals of individual liberty and a free society?  We attempt to glean that from your responses to the essay questions, the theme of your treatment, and any relevant items on your resume.


I noticed the applications for the SmashCut and both workshops are pretty similar.
We want to make the process of applying to more than one program a little easier.  So, you can use the same answers to the same essay questions on each application form (if you decide to fill out both.)  And yes, you can use the same work sample for each application.  The one-page treatment for the SmashCut Film Lab application, however, wherein you describe the short film you intend to make, cannot be used as a work sample for either application.


Do I have to be a film student or film school graduate to apply to your film-related programs?
No.  But you must be able to demonstrate an aptitude for and a commitment to pursuing a career in film/TV/digital entertainment.  Ways to substantiate this would include writing at least one or more quality feature or TV screenplays, making one or more short videos or films, “coverage” of several screenplays (if you’re applying for an internship), a current or past job or internship in the entertainment business or the media, or work in other creative fields.


What do you look for in a written work submitted as a work sample with an application?
First, it must pass the professionalism test.  In other words, is it formatted according to professional standards and does it avoid mistakes that are the mark of an amateur?  For example, if your sample is a screenplay:  was it written using professional screenwriting software such as Final Draft?

If you are applying to one or both of our publishing-related programs, then a short story, book chapter, feature article, or outline or treatment for a book would be appropriate.

With hundreds of how-to screenwriting books available, there’s no excuse to flunk this test.  If you are submitting a feature length treatment, there is no set-in-stone standard, but it should be substantial, e.g., at least five pages long.  

After that, it boils down to originality and talent. Do you know how to properly structure a story?  Does it grip us from the very beginning, so that we can’t wait to reach the next page, and then the next page after that, all the way to the end?  Does it surprise or take us in an unexpected direction?  Do you have a distinctive voice?  Are your characters rich and unique?

Negative indicators would include:  Your story lacks originality; it’s like many others before it.  Your characters are cardboard stereotypes or they all sound the same; there’s too much scene direction.  You may earn bonus points if your story artfully promotes liberty — although if that message is ham-fisted, unsubtle, or shoehorned in, those points may turn negative.

In between takes on the 2015 Liberty Lab for Film project Through the Smokescreen

In between takes on the 2015 SmashCut Film Lab project Through the Smokescreen

What do you look for in an online video work submitted as a work sample with an application?
It’s harder to generalize about them, since we expect quite a range, everything from 60-second shorts to 2-hour features.  Originality and professionalism are, once again, the two main factors in play.  Is it shot well; how effectively does it hold our interest; is it something we’ve already seen before?

Please make sure that it is really easy and simple for us to view your video online.  Provide any necessary passwords or private links to Vimeo, YouTube or other in the notes sections of the application. (That information will be kept private and shared only within our organization and those who will be reviewing your application.)


Do I need to copyright my work before submitting it?
Copyrighting your work is not a requirement of submitting it as a work sample; it’s strictly up to you whether you want to or not.  (See the Rules and Release Agreement, which is also linked to on the application forms, for further details on application requirements.  You will be asked to agree to the terms of that agreement as a condition of applying.)

One place to learn more about screenplay copyright issues is the WGA’s registry page.  (This is not an endorsement of their service, although many professionals use it.  You can use whatever means you’d like, or none at all — it’s your choice.)  Please feel free to search on your own answers to this question or consult with a professional.  Sorry, we cannot provide any legal advice.


Does it matter when I apply?
We will be accepting some applicants on a rolling basis.  So if you wait until the last minute, there may be fewer slots open, which may lower your chances of being chosen.  It behooves you to apply early.  

The cast & crew of the 2015 SmashCut Film Lab project The Return at our Los Angeles Premiere Gala

What if I don’t live in the Los Angeles area?
In the case of the Apollo Workshop and internship programs, we don’t want that to be a hindrance to any worthy applicants.  In fact, we believe it is part of our mission to bring in fresh perspectives from outside the Hollywood vortex before it’s sucked your soul dry and you’ve lost the ability to have an original thought.  So if you think you have the talent to be a great filmmaker and can back it up with a creative sample, by all means apply.

If you are accepted to either the internship or the workshop, we may help pick up the tab for your travel to and from L.A. (only within North America and there is a modest upper limit).  Workshop attendees will also receive free room and board during the workshop, and interns will receive a modest stipend of up to $5,000 (depending on funding levels) to help cover living expenses during the three-month internship period.

As for the SmashCut Film Lab, make sure you study that page.  As it states there, the program runs about 100 days, and you will be expected to attend the opening workshop. While not an absolute requirement, you will probably be in L.A. a few times during the summer and fall.  The opening workshop in June and the screening showcase (in October or November) are mandatory for SmashCut participants.

As the rules state, you must be legally authorized to work within the United States in order to be eligible for any of our programs.  This generally means that you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident (e.g., have a “green card”).  A tourist visa is insufficient.  An educational visa may work for our workshops but not the other programs.  Sorry, we do not have the resources to help you to obtain a work or education visa; you are responsible to make any such arrangements on your own.

If you are a foreign national, then you should indicate your legal work status in the text block near the bottom of the application form titled “Referrals, Other Notes.”  Once again, we cannot help you to get the proper documentation, as we simply do not have the resources or expertise.


How do I apply for the Lights Camera Liberty! program?
First of all, to be a part of the Atlas Network‘s program, you must be, or work for, a pro-free market nonprofit organization.   You can learn how to apply to Lights Camera Liberty by going here.  If for whatever reason you are ineligible for or choose not to participate in that program, you can always contact us directly to see if we can help to meet your production or training needs in another way.  We have a large network of industry professionals and production resources with whom we can connect you.


Any other questions?
Send them to us via our contact form and we’ll do our best to answer them.


I like what you’re doing and I’d like to participate as a faculty member or volunteer or give money to help create more workshops and sponsor more internships.
Please get in touch with us via our contact form or you can donate here.  As we are a tax-exempt nonprofit with 501(c)(3) status, donations may be tax-deductible.

For news of our 2018 programs and the latest updates, please subscribe to our newsletter (click on the newsletter button found throughout this website) and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Also, be sure to check out our group blog, Smash Cut Culture.