Green Screen Cinema Filmmaking for the 21st century

Free Film School, Chapter 4

Wednesday, May 07 2008 @ 01:36 PM UTC
Contributed by: Jimbo
Views: 3,733
Free Film SchoolWe've talked a bit about the internship problem and the economic hardship it creates for working professionals. Today I thought it would be interesting to look at an internship posting that USC Film School just sent me:

    Summer interns needed for Alexandra Milchan, a very busy independent producer based on the Fox lot. Duties include heavy research, copying, filing, putting together packages for submissions, office errands, some phones. This is a great opportunity to read scripts and observe the development side of filmmaking. Must be reliable, organized and able to thrive in a fast-paced, high stress environment. Must pay close attention to detail and have great people skills (as our office deals with a lot of high-level people and A-list talent). We require a commitment of at least 10 hours per week but the schedule is flexible. Candidates must be able to receive school credit. This internship is unpaid.

    Applicants can send their resumes and cover letters to
This is a real internship, with a real producer. Here's a picture of the producer.

Should you work for this producer for free?

The first thing you need to ask yourself is,"Will I ever get paid to do this job?" This is an important question because the free work has to eventually lead to paying work, right? So let's look at the pedigree of this producer. She's the daughter of the head of New Regency Productions, which Variety suggests might make her the next descendant of new Hollywood royalty. Sounds pretty good, huh? If you scout around a little more you'll see she has about six projects in various stages of production right now. This producer is the real deal.

She's on the Fox lot, she's connected and she has a ton of work going on. But for some reason she wants you to work for free in a "high stress environment". Hmmm... It's likely that most of the other people around her are getting paid. The editors, line producers and assistant directors that come in and out of her office are certainly getting paid because they have marketable skills. But the only skill she expects you to have is "attention to detail". I don't think her office has a VP of Attention to Detail. Let's conclude that she's never going to pay you because she's actually hiring you for your lack of skills.

Now that you've determined that this internship is not going to lead to paying work you need to ask yourself,"Is there anything else this job can do for me?" Well, you would probably have access to an unlimited supply of sticky notes. So you could make a collage. But that's not why your parents sent you to Free Film School, is it?

You should consider the access this job would give you to all the different departments that are involved in making a film. Since she has projects in different stages of development her office needs to interact with editing, set design, effects, lighting, props, etc. The job doesn't look so bad if you view it as a way to get into one of those departments. But here's the catch, you need to know up front if she would allow you to work in your chosen field. You would need to make access to that department one of the terms of your internship. If the job allowed you to spend four hours a week in an editing bay, for example, you would pick up mad skills. So there is some possibility of advancement here, but it depends on your ability to cut a good deal. It turns out that so much in this industry is based on the deal. Even when working for free.