Applicant FAQ

1. Why aren’t you taking hyphenates? I want to be a writer-director.

We designed First Team to create opportunities for as many USC alumni as possible and to emphasize the teamwork necessary to succeed in the industry. We believe our writing, directing, and producing alumni offer special skill sets from each discipline. First Team participants benefit from other alums’ talent and knowledge – and the program helps propel three careers.

If you want to be a writer-director, writer-producer, producer-director, we suggest developing other projects outside of the program as a hyphenate and work on one First Team project in the capacity you enjoy the most. You may create more synergy for your own career and discover things about your strengths you didn’t know.

2. I have a writing partner. Why don’t you accept co-writers, co-directors, and co-producers?

Our industry affiliates prefer our teams are limited to one writer, director, and producer. They may be taking a chance on producing a project and the more encumbered it is, the less likely they will want to commit. They may love a project but if there are a ton of folks attached, they’d rather not get involved.

3. I’m very excited about this program. What happens next?

We are only accepting applications through our website. We only consider the information on your application. There are no interviews. Once we review all the applications, we’ll notify the participants by email. If for some reason a participant cannot participate in the program, is not (or does not become) a member of the SCA Network, or fails to pay the First Team participation fee by the deadline, we will go to our waiting list. We will notify our waiting list selectees via email or phone. Please see our website for all deadlines on our program-at-glance page.

4. Do I have to be a member of the SCA Network to apply to First Team?

No. Any SCA alum may apply to USC First Team. However, if you’re selected to participate in the program and you’re not already a current member of the SCA Network, you’ll need to join promptly. Go to the SCA Network website to see if you’re eligible to be an SCA Network member. Their address is

5. This is a great program. How can key creatives get involved?

We know there are many talented key creative alumni. Right now, we’re focusing on the development process. We very much want to get projects off the ground. This will take time. Once our teams assemble, we’ll have a better understanding of their needs. If and when our teams need key creatives, you better believe we’ll be coming to our SCA Network! At this point, it’s premature to make decisions about production and post-production, but have no fear, we have several ideas in mind to bridge this gap when the time comes.

6. Why do you have a limited number of individual slots?

We are limited by several factors, including the ratio of applicants from the different disciplines, available meeting space, the range of industry affiliates, the need for quality assurance, and the demands of our day jobs. The First Team leaders are all working professionals. We’re very excited about First Team, but we are donating our time.

7. How will you choose the teams we’ll be assigned to?

Actually, our participants choose their own team members. There are no assigned teams. At the kick-off event, we’ll hold about 1,900 meetings. From these meetings, participants request materials from each other. After reading scripts, watching reels and meeting with other folks, participants decide to form teams around specific projects. To get more information on how to maximize your experience, please see our applicant information and participant information pages.

8. Why aren’t you taking TV projects?

The television development process works in a very specific way, and it’s very writer-centric. As TV changes, the development model may change, too.

9. I don’t have any projects that will work for First Team this year, but I still want to be involved. May I volunteer to help?

Absolutely, you may volunteer to help. We’ll need some extra hands at the kick-off event. Please let us know if you’d like to be added to our volunteer database.

10. What do you get out of First Team? Do you sign on as producers?

Neither USC First Team nor the USC School of Cinematic Arts sign on to projects as producers. We don’t receive monetary gain from your projects. The First Team leaders don’t get paid by the school to do the program. First Team is a passion project. We run the program on a completely voluntary basis. That’s the way we want it because we love our day jobs. We also love offering this opportunity to our fellow USC SCA alumni.

However, because we don’t get paid to do First Team and we don’t work for the school, there are limitations to our involvement. Optimizing our time is important because we’re working professionals and alumni, just like you. If you are selected to participate, we ask you show up promptly at the momentum seminars and meet your deadlines. We reserve the right not to take your project out if we feel you aren’t holding up your end of the bargain. We’re working hard so you should, too.

Oh, and it would be nice to be invited to your premieres!