Internship: Triboro Pictures, New York, Summer 2012
Class of: 2014
This summer, I worked as an intern for Triboro Pictures in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York for 12 weeks. I chose this company for a number of reasons. Its small size meant that as an intern I was not doing “coffee runs,” but instead had a multitude of opportunities to contribute to the mission of the company in meaningful ways. Furthermore, despite being a small company, their mission spans four different areas: production through Triboro Pictures, distribution through Striped Entertainment, New York-based production services for foreign producers through The Production Service, and the Gotham Screen International Film Festival and Screenplay Contest. I thought that this would be a great way to be exposed to a variety of film-related areas, and I was correct, as I ended up learning a great deal.
One of my main tasks involved working on a documentary currently in post-production that focuses on the role of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. On my first day, I went through raw footage of Civil War re-enactors and I learned how to use a program called Grab to take hundreds of screenshots that could later be used in promotional materials for the film, as well as gifts for the re-enactors who generously agreed to be filmed. The next day, I was given my main task, which I worked on for a long time throughout my internship. First, allow me to give a little background information. This Civil War documentary was originally filmed about ten years ago, but it was never distributed, so Triboro Pictures was called in to help revamp the project, adding new footage and such. This also involved making sure that the image quality was up to the contemporary standard of High Definition. In the shuffle, roughly 150 images from the original tape went missing, and could no longer be found in High Definition. Thus, all we were left with was roughly 150 low-quality screenshots from the original tape, and no broadcast-quality images of these Civil War-era photographs and drawings that are essential to the story told in the film.
My job was to find exact matches or adequate, high-resolution close replacements of these missing images. For a number of weeks, with nothing but a low-quality image and no identifying information to guide me, I embarked upon somewhat of a “wild goose chase” by searching the Internet for the images. Despite my enthusiasm, it was often disheartening to come up empty-handed each day. However, I pushed ahead. I met with only mild success in finding exact matches, although I did come up with some interesting replacements. I became much more proficient with Microsoft Excel, and composed Excel spreadsheets of my work. Using a binding machine, I then compiled booklets of what I had done to show both my boss and the film’s director. There was still much work to be done, and I ended up learning even more about copyrights, image usage fees for television broadcast, documentary research, and the role of images as they relate to the documentary form. Shortly after I submitted these initial booklets, I had a meeting with my boss and he told me that he and the director were able to narrow down the search for the missing images to four original sources, and that the search was to start anew. At first I feared that all of my prior work had been in vain, but it turned out that some images I found would be used, and that I had provided them with a variety of options and choices for the film. I then started exploring the four original sources: the Minnesota Historical Society, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the studios of Dale Gallon Historical Art in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The New York Public Library Maps Division also ended being a source as well.
I was very encouraged by this new development, and I set about on a more focused search for the images. A fellow intern and I had the wonderful opportunity to go to Harlem to visit the Schomburg Center’s Photographs and Prints Division. Over the course of two days, we poured through the folders and binders of Civil War-era images, and with the help of the knowledgeable librarians, were able to positively identify nine images that we needed for the film, which was a big step. I also travelled by myself to the main branch of the New York Public Library to visit the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. In only a little over two hours, I was able to positively identify the three maps that I had set out to identify. I have to say that I am proud of this because it initially seemed that it would be impossible to identify massive maps using only very small screenshots. With the help of the dedicated librarians, I was quickly able to identify the images, take down the identifying information, and successfully report back to my boss. With a different intern, I also went through the online archives of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center and identified more images. Similarly, I matched images of Dale Gallon’s historical paintings with their titles, and compiled booklets of the missing images in order to prepare my boss and the film’s director for their trip to Gettysburg at the end of the summer, where they shot footage of the paintings just as the earlier crew had done some ten years earlier. We realized that (as helpful as the friendly Midwestern librarians were over the phone) it was going to be too difficult to track down many of the Minnesota Historical Society images without actually visiting the Library. So, the director ended up taking a trip to Minnesota and we sent him along with booklets that I compiled of all of the missing images (both photographs and newspaper clippings that could be found on microfilm). Similarly, when the director also went to the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Pennsylvania, we sent him along with another booklet that I had compiled, which included all of the missing images from Carlisle, as well as those images which we had already identified and that we had to order from Copy Services. On my last day, the company had me copy my computer desktop onto a hard drive and organize all of my email and telephone correspondence so that they would know how to continue my work after I went back to Hopkins. I was very touched that they had come to rely on me so much; I had become not only the “point person” when it came to these images, but also a leader. When the director called me to ask me a question about one of the maps, I was also touched and very happy, for I felt that I was truly able to make a meaningful contribution to the company by helping them move forward with the documentary through the retrieval of these important images.
Of course, there was much more to my internship than working with the images. I also did research for the company, such as researching production companies in Bermuda or doing location scouting online for a warehouse or raw loft space. I also had the opportunity to work on the set of a Dutch reality television show that was filming in New York, for Triboro Pictures was serving as the on-site American producer. Working on set was fun, eye-opening, and exciting; I was happy to have that opportunity, for I now I know more about what happens on a set, and am aware of how much work each and every individual must put in so that everything runs smoothly. One of my favorite tasks, however, was reviewing screenplays and writing script coverage. This was one of the best parts of my internship because it allowed me to apply the skills I learned from Prof. Marc Lapadula’s Introduction to Dramatic Writing: Film and Intermediate Dramatic Writing: Film. I learned how to write script coverage in his class and through my internship was able to apply my knowledge of script coverage to a real-world scenario. Coverage is a report in which one analyzes multiple aspects of a screenplay, including the premise, generic expectations, plot structure, character development, the stakes, dialogue, and whether the screenplay would be of interest to the company. The report must be clear and concise, and must always include a logline so that the person who reads the report knows what the screenplay is about. Whether I was reviewing a drama, a comedy, a dark comedy, or any other genre, I was able to use the skills I developed in courses such as Lapadula’s as well as Prof. Lucy Bucknell’s course Screenwriting by Genre. During my internship, I wrote two different types of coverage, which taught me that not all coverage is created equal, and that coverage serves different purposes depending on the situation. The first type of coverage I wrote was quite extensive, and this coverage was for the biweekly Readers Group. The Readers Group is a great concept, and it is one of things that initially attracted me to Triboro Pictures, as it reminded me of the seminar model pioneered by The Writing Seminars. Members of the Readers Group include industry professionals, community members of diverse ages and various backgrounds (including film, television, and publishing). Not everyone was involved in film and media in a professional context, but everyone was interested in discovering great storytelling, which I thought was fantastic. Every two weeks, we met as a group to discuss a screenplay that had either been submitted to the screenplay contest or directly to the company. We submitted extensive coverage in advance, and then had a lively discussion about the quality of various aspects of the script. For the second half of the meeting, each person would present a summary of a Gotham Screen screenplay that they had been assigned to review. This brings me to the second type of coverage, which required me to be more concise, as it was for the Gotham Screen International Film Festival and Screenplay Contest. I was so fortunate to have this opportunity to get a truly behind-the-scenes look at how screenplays are judged in a screenplay competition. My experiences writing script coverage throughout my internship were extremely educational and fun, as screenwriting is a huge interest of mine and it is something that I want to continue to pursue in the future.
I also worked on the Gotham Screen International Film Festival. I reviewed film submissions, whether they were short films or features of various genres. I also solicited film submissions from foreign directors; I went through booklets of foreign cinema (for example, Turkish Cinema 2012) that the company had gotten at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and I e-mailed directors whose films sounded interesting. Ideally, the films I solicited did not have U.S. distribution, so that if we were interested in the film, Striped Entertainment (the distribution arm of the company) could potentially provide U.S. distribution. Often, these directors sent me a screener to review, and so I was able to watch films that I would not normally get to see, such as those from the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Slovenia.
My internship at Triboro Pictures was a wonderful introduction to the industry; I loved working for the small, up-and-coming company, for I was truly able to contribute to their work in important ways. I learned a variety of new skills, and additionally I was able to demonstrate the skills that I have learned at Johns Hopkins in the Department of The Writing Seminars and the Program in Film and Media Studies. I also learned how to interact in a professional environment and I had to meet various challenges head-on, which was a worthwhile learning experience in itself. I am so grateful to have had this first professional experience, for it was very educational in so many different ways.
Internship: Wide Angle Youth Media, Baltimore, Summer 2013 & 2014
Class of: 2014
I began interning with Wide Angle Youth Media in the summer of 2013. I joined the organization through the Center of Social Concern as a Community Impact Intern, where I worked full time for eight weeks. It was an incredible experience.
I was a production assistant and helped facilitate the high school class. We had two big fee-for-service projects with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Green Street Academy. My job was to create complete film treatments, meet with the groups, and work with the high school students to plan the projects start to finish. Both projects were a grand success and I decided to stay and continue my internship throughout the year. I then became the assistant high school instructor for the Mentoring Video Project. Two days a week I volunteered at the office and instructed the high school class. Together we produced videos on many different topics and social issues, such as youth homelessness in Baltimore and the lack of funding for summer and after school programs. I will continue to work at Wide Angle during the summer of 2014.
My experience at Wide Angle has been life changing for me. I’ve learned valuable production skills. I’ve improved on my photography, videography, directing, acting, and writing skills through this internship. I’ve learned how to use new equipment, work with a team, and I’ve worked on professional sets doing professional work.
And most importantly, I’ve learned how to be a teacher and work with the youth. I’ve developed a special bond with all of the students that I’ve worked with. Our relationship has become so strong that they feel comfortable coming to me for college advice, schoolwork help, and advice with personal problems. It is because of this experience that I was accepted into an Americorps program in Boston where I will continue to teach. I am very grateful for my experience at Wide Angle and I’m very excited to continue to intern with them throughout the summer.
Internship: Susan Shopmaker Casting, New York, Summer 2017
Class of: 2018
My internship for Susan Shopmaker Casting was one of the most informative and enjoyable experiences of my professional career. I spent seven weeks in her office this past summer, and the time flew. My duties grew over time as I demonstrated my work ethic and competence, until I was a valuable part of the office’s everyday operations.
When I began, I was assigned clerical work such as sorting through cast lists, reviewing documents to make sure every actor’s audition was uploaded and noted, and sorting audition sides for the next day’s sessions. It was simple work to be sure, but I felt exhilarated just by being a part of the professional world. I had just arrived and, in my mind, I was already in the thick of it. Susan asked me what I’d be most interested in doing in the course of my time with her and I responded that I’d be happy however I could be helpful, but that since I was interested in being an actor, I’d love to be a reader if she ever needed help in the audition room. The next day I was reading with the actors who came in to audition for parts. This became one of my chief duties. I was the primary reader for the next month and a half, with one other actress reading one or two days a week.
A typical day would involve my helping to prepare the office and studio for that day’s audition sessions, and then greeting an actor when they arrived. I would clip on their lav mic, and then read the other parts in the script and do whatever actions the script required. When the day’s sessions were complete I added the actors’ names onto our master-list and updated all our documents.
In this time, I learned a lot by observing the actors and casting directors interact. Watching everything from how actors held themselves when they entered the room, to what specific notes the casting associate gave in-between takes helped fill in my understanding of the process. As my employer and coworkers saw me improve my readings with the actors, they started letting me audition, as well. I didn’t book anything, but the experience of auditioning for movies and TV taught me a lot about what you can and can’t do on screen. For example, I had no idea how far down you can look before the camera loses your eyes, something that can weaken an audition. I also learned that no matter what the reader is giving you, you need to work off of them. If a reader gives you nothing, use the lines to force them to react. Don’t imagine you’re talking to someone who isn’t there; instead, work off of what you have. When an actor didn’t do this, it was immediately apparent, and problematic for their audition as a whole. It felt like they weren’t present in the room.
I also learned how minute everything becomes when acting for a camera. You can’t move much or you’ll shift out of frame. Every small movement of the body or face is critical and visible to whomever is watching the tape. Small, almost imperceptible body language becomes key to a successful audition.
While interning, I would also field phone calls from agents and managers who were inquiring about project details or making pushes for their clients. We were casting the lead in a new arthouse film, one for a strong female protagonist, and there were a lot of prospects. I didn’t realize that reps will actually cold call casting offices to convince them to audition clients, and then call again afterward to see how they did, and to ask for notes. It was exhausting just listening to them hustle. I had no idea how much lobbying was a part of an agent’s job.
The most exciting part of this internship was that Susan has offered me a place when I graduate. I may not accept a full-time position with her, but I would love to help out in her office for the first few months after graduation to help me find my footing in NYC. Interning for Susan Shopmaker Casting was a true pleasure and provided me with invaluable work experience. I would wholeheartedly recommend that any interested student in the Film and Media Studies Program apply. They won’t be disappointed.
Internship: American Documentary | POV & International Creative Management (ICM), New York, Summer 2011
Class of: 2013
This past summer, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity of a lifetime. I interned at two entertainment, media-related powerhouses: American Documentary | POV and International Creative Management (ICM). The two companies could not be more antithetical to one another.
POV is essentially a documentary film curator/production house. The firm produces and curates documentary films for its self-titled series (now in its 24th season) on PBS. It is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to bring issues of international importance to its PBS audiences through the medium of film. The series has won every major entertainment award. These awards include, but are not limited to, three Academy Awards, 23 Emmy Awards, 13 George Foster Peabody Awards, and 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Broadcast Journalism Awards.
ICM is a full-service agency. The firm is made up of eight departments: Motion Picture Talent, Television, Concerts, Publishing, Theatre, Branded Entertainment, and Lectures. Very often, multiple departments will work in tandem with one other in an attempt to further the ever-evolving careers of the clients. The agency itself is a quintessential agency hierarchy, so to speak. Meaning, one typically starts in an entry-level position (either in the mailroom or as a “floater”). As time goes on, and if all goes well, he or she then becomes an agent’s assistant, a coordinator, and then an agent (this is, again, in a perfect world).
I began my summer with an eight-week internship at POV. I was determined to merge an interest in film with a more business-oriented mindset. This meant working 3 days a week in Development and the remaining two days in Production & Programming.
In Development, I participated in research for prospective/potential new benefactors, edited databases and created spreadsheets pertaining to fundraising initiatives. I also aided in the application process of multiple awards cycles/grant cycles, including the duPonts and the Council on Foundations (CoF).
In Production & Programming, I screened submissions for season 25, provided extensive evaluations of films for potential selection, sat in on meetings with producers and the Executive Director to voice my opinions, and aided on film sets of filmmaker and subject interviews.
This was truly an unparalleled experience. As I alluded to before, working in both of these departments allowed me to bridge a connection between financing and the inherently creative production process. I could not have asked for more.
In addition to providing me with a wonderfully extensive education in the documentary film and public television worlds, POV is an exceptional place to work, simply in terms of corporate culture. The firm is made up of some of the warmest, brightest, most enthusiastic people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet, let alone work with/for. I can confidently say that multiple people at the firm have become mentors of mine. Although public television is not something I see myself pursuing professionally, POV awarded me an education I will undoubtedly take with me.
I finished my summer with eight weeks at ICM. At ICM, I had the pleasure of working on multiple desks in Global Branded Entertainment. Branded Entertainment is a rapidly evolving field that primarily seeks to serve corporations and brands through the means of entertainment. This includes everything from product placing (i.e., reading a script and placing one’s corporate client within a scene) to celebrity endorsements to advertising and so on and so forth.
While working on these desks, I created a database of potential international corporate sponsors for future Concerts’ tours, created a database/tracked projects-of-interest, provided script coverage and evaluations for potential client involvement, listened in on conference calls between agents and clients, and perhaps most excitingly, covered a desk for a prolonged period of time (meaning I was working directly for an agent as an assistant).
Since it is one day my dream to merge a passion for film and entertainment with an interest in business, there was perhaps no better place to work and learn.
Besides the mindboggling (yet truly exciting) experience of covering a desk, script coverage was my favorite element to the internship. Reading various works in progress for Branded Entertainment forced me to visualize the various films for potential client involvement. The education I have received from the Film & Media Studies Program prepared me for this in ways I can only seek to describe. While reading and providing coverage, I would create spreadsheets of potential client involvement where I saw fit (everything from the placement of a chandelier in a scene to a picture frame on a wall).
The agency’s corporate culture is a force to be reckoned with. Although a bit intimidating and daunting at first, I met some wonderful mentors at ICM. I, furthermore, had the wonderful opportunity of having one-on-one meetings with many agents. This allowed me to deepen my appreciation for the business and receive some unparalleled guidance and advice. I also thoroughly enjoyed the formality of the internship program. I am fortunate enough to call many of my fellow interns great friends.
Both of these companies are fantastic places to work. I feel so blessed to have experienced such a jam-packed, exciting summer. I would highly recommend both of these firms to other Hopkins students. I also cannot thank the incredible film program enough for preparing me for these experiences.
Internship: Florentine Films, New York, Summer 2012
Class of: 2015
This summer, I worked at Ken Burns’ film production company Florentine Films as a research assistant and intern for Vietnam. Before starting work, I was asked by co-producers to prepare by reviewing 20th–century American cultural, social, and political history. In particular, they asked me to examine cultural and social history from the end of the “Ike” administration through the Watergate scandal. They asked that I be familiar with Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Neil Sheehan’s The Bright Shining Lie, and Michael Herr’s Dispatches. Additionally, I watched Vietnam related films including Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Deer Hunterand Full Metal Jacket. Finally, I also sampled several of Mr. Burns’ previous documentaries including Brooklyn Bridge, The War, Civil War, Prohibition, Jazz, and National Parks. This independent study paper will seek to recount eight weeks working at Florentine.
When my application was accepted, I did not know what to expect. It was my first summer internship in any field. Florentine, which has its major office in New Hampshire, has a small 6-person office on Sixth Avenue and 31st Street in New York City, where I worked.
I conducted research on journalists, writers, photographers, veterans, POWs, politicians, and veterans’ families. I also assisted in researching and exploring historical events from the perspective of both the Anti-Communist and Communist forces. Additionally, I transcribed interviews and footage from several databases including ABC, NBC, The National Archives, The U.S. Army, The U.S. Air Force, and several news bureaus.
I assisted in selecting footage from Florentine’s own interviews with journalists, photographers, veterans, POWS, Viet Cong loyalists and Vietnamese villagers. A POW who survived for several years in South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese prison camps; an ex-Marine who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological traumas; an African American Marine who was a target of virulent racism stemming from the Civil Rights Era; the mother of a deceased soldier; an anti-war activist and violent protestor; and an Associated Press Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer, are among interviews that I also vetted.
In addition, I worked several days in the New York Public Library Microfilm Archives and Rose Reading Room, exploring old newspaper clippings, photographs, interviews and historical journals. I assisted in tracking down documents that had been spread out across the United States, for example, working with the NYPL and Florentine to find and execute an inter-library loan from the University of Kentucky Library to the New York Public Library for further review.
I helped work on a database that logged important music from the 1960’s used to gather material relating to the home front and the cultural revolution of the time period.
I also established and helped create a photography database for Florentine that will ultimately organize every photograph from the Vietnam project, including every book, newspaper clipping, and journal. It will allow photojournalists working on the project to contact photographers and archives to access and acquire photographs for the documentary.
Finally, I received on-set training when I assisted on the set and interview of a Pulitzer-Prize-winning photographer. I helped coordinating the interview and providing help needed throughout the 12-hour shoot.
I had a fantastic time working at Florentine this summer. I learned extremely valuable skills. In addition to gaining experience with databases, libraries, newspaper archives, transcription of film, basic editing, and microfilm techniques, I learned the importance of resourcefulness, organization, diligence and dedication. Since the office was so small, and there were only 6 other employees, I worked in extremely close proximity to all of the professionals. I had responsibility and was kept extremely busy.
I highly recommend that any student interested in history and documentary film pursue an opportunity at Florentine Films. In particular, because the producers and researchers at Florentine identify themselves as “historians first, filmmakers second,” I recommend Florentine to students who desire an opportunity to work closely in history and American studies.
Internship: WYPR, Baltimore, Summer 2012
Class of: 2015
Before going to college, I remember growing up and listening to National Public Radio with my parents during our car rides. That is why I was so excited to be able to get an internship with Baltimore’s public radio station, WYPR, working with the Midday with Dan Rodricks team for the summer. I started my internship at WYPR in the beginning of June and finished by the end of August. Before this internship, I had never had any experience with radio or production. However, by the end of the program, I became responsible for producing billboards and promos, backing up shows, screening calls and e-mails during live shows, and researching and producing hour-long segments.
During my first couple of weeks at WYPR, I focused on learning the technical skills required to produce a radio show. This meant that I would learn how to use Adobe Audition and the soundboard to record the show’s daily billboards and promos. In order to do so, I sat in on recordings for billboards and promos with the producers and engineers of the Midday with Dan Rodricks show until I became more familiar with the equipment and procedures. After a month’s time, I was able to work with Dan Rodricks by myself to record the day’s billboards and promos. After I finished recording with him, I used Adobe Audition in order to edit the recorded sound clips and mix them down with the correct music bumps. When I finished mixing the files, I would then save them into ENCO—the system used to organize the radio station’s sound bytes—under the correct call number so that they could be used during the live broadcasts. Sometimes the bumps and sound clips used for a certain hour required music that needed to be loaded from a CD. When this happened, I would then need to load the music into Adobe Audition and then edit the music to fit the cut off time for a billboard or promo. Once I finished editing the music, I then had to save the clip under a call number in ENCO and label the file. This was one of the hardest things I had to learn during my time at WYPR. It took me a long time to get used to the different systems before I could finally save and edit everything without looking at my notes trying to remember each hour’s call number. In addition, I had to learn how to adjust the volume for the microphone so when I was mixing the sound byte with music, everything could be heard clearly.
Then, once the show was finished being broadcasted, I would have to backup each segment of the hour by burning them onto a CD. Before burning the CD and saving the file, each segment had to be edited through Audition, which meant that all the advertisements had to be edited out and the beginning and end of each segment had to be faded in and faded out, respectively. Afterword, the edited tracks had to be mixed down into one file and saved as an mp3, so that it could be posted online as a free podcast. Both the CD and mp3 file also had to be labeled with the date, hour number, and name of the show, so that if that broadcast is needed in the future, it can be easily found. Although this was a very tedious job, I learned the importance of backing up each show, since it was always possible that the staff might use a certain hour to be rebroadcasted. Therefore, when checking the clips for specific references, it would be easier to pull the sound byte from the CD rather than having to hours at a time listening to the DAT tapes of a show.
Once I became more confortable navigating ENCO and using Audition, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the systems and the other ways in which it was used for broadcast radio. The staff was very willing to teach me more. I learned how to edit and save past broadcasts into their designated call number for rebroadcasts. The process for editing and saving the past broadcasts is a little different from saving a regular show. First, I had to listen to the show that would be rebroadcasted—paying attention and noting specific references to dates or special events. The goal was to make sure the hour sounded like it was actually live. Once, the show has been checked, all references that were noted down had to be edited out in Audition. Finally, once the edits are done, each segment of the show had to be saved and loaded individually into the ENCO system under the correct call number for its rebroadcast. From editing past broadcasts, I learned how to edit the sound clips by listening for continuity and flow. It was great to experience the difference between editing video and editing sound.
Besides being responsible for some of the technical part of production, I also helped to screen calls and e-mails during live broadcasts and keep up with the show’s social media (ie: Twitter and Facebook). I learned how to communicate with callers and distinguish between thought provoking question or comments from callers that would only lead to on air issues. Moreover, I had to be able to edit e-mails and comments so that everything made sense and was easy for Dan Rodricks to read on air. Although answering phones and reading emails does not seem like a difficult task, I learned how to multitask and do things in the most efficient way possible. This skill was definitely needed since sometimes there would be a very busy hour when all the phone lines would be busy and listeners would send in a bunch of e-mails throughout the show.
Toward the end of the summer, I was given the opportunity to research and produce my own hour. This required me to read a book about the nonprofit organization Year Up, take thorough notes on each chapter, produce my own set of questions, and write a script that would be read during the intro to the live broadcast. The script would include a paragraph for the billboard, a live intro to the show, a throw to break, and a return from break. The throw to break would have to raise questions for the audience to prompt them to call in or send in e-mails and the return from break would quickly reintroduce the hour’s topic and the next topic of discussion. I had never written a script like this before, so it was a great learning experience. Through producing, I learned how to be as concise as possible and how to write in a way that would hook the listener into the conversation. I look forward to applying what I learned into future internships and classes.
In addition to the responsibilities I was given, I was also given the opportunity to go live on air with Dan Rodricks to discuss this summer’s movies. It was an amazing experience that I never thought would have been possible. In order to prep for the hour, I had to watch the movies that were out in theaters, take notes, write a short synopsis, and give a rating value. I would be giving my opinion on seven movies and talking about it with a fellow intern and Chris Reed from Stevenson University. Through this experience I learned what it was like to sit in studio as opposed to sitting in the sound room answering calls and reading e-mails. I also saw the difficulty of hosting a show live on air since there was only a certain amount of time doled out for each segment. The host had to be organized and lead the conversation in a smart way so that each topic of discussion would connect.
I would definitely recommend this internship to other students. If you are unsure of what stage of production you want to be a part of, it is a great opportunity to try out all the different jobs and responsibilities. Moreover, the internship is very hands-on, which means that you will get a chance to do more than fetch coffee or organize papers—something that is most likely expected from a bigger named radio station. As long as you are ambitious and willing to try different things, the staff at Midday with Dan Rodricks at WYPR is more than accommodating and willing to teach you more than what is required. There is simply no limit to the responsibilities you may hold at WYPR. In addition, the Midday with Dan Rodricks show has a great team of people who are friendly, welcoming, and always willing to offer advice or answer questions. You will also be able to work closely with the host and the producers of the show. It is also a great opportunity to become more aware of the current events and political issues going on around Baltimore and in the state of Maryland.
Lastly, as an intern you are given the opportunity to be a part of the staff production meetings. This means that you will be able to voice any ideas that you may have for a future hour. If your ideas are well received, you will be given the responsibility to produce your own hour where you decide the direction of the topics and conversation. It is a great position to be creative and learn the basics of production and an amazing experience to put onto your résumé.
Internship: Crybaby Media, New York, Summer 2012
Class of: 2014
Interning at Crybaby Media in midtown Manhattan this past summer was an exciting and educational experience. The company, which was founded by Danny Passman in May of 2010, is a full-service creative development and packaging firm. More specifically, they create, cast and sell reality TV shows, help producers and production companies cast and sell their shows, cast talent for TV networks, help non-fiction talent help build their brands and provide creative consulting for other companies. Since its origin, the company has sold several shows, including Hook, Line & Dinner, which was just signed for its third season on the Cooking Channel, Keasha’s Perfect Dress, which is a series in production on Slice in Canada andBulloch Family Ranch, which just started production for GMC. As Crybaby Media is still in it’s early stages, it was extremely exciting to see the dynamic of a start-up and to experience the company at a time when it is really starting to take off and gain momentum. While I was there this summer, the company sold several shows to production companies and received casting assignments from various networks, which I am not allowed to name because of confidentiality agreements. The company comprises of Danny Passman, the President and Founder and Bryan Severence, a member of development team. I worked in a one-room office that overlooks Madison Square Park with Danny and Bryan, and from the experience I learned a tremendous amount about the entertainment industry and important lessons about how to conduct business and be a thorough researcher.
Working at Crybaby Media was exciting because each day brought new opportunities and challenges. My duties were ever changing, but most of my tasks revolved around researching, interviewing and writing treatments and other documents. My research can be broken down into several different forms: For one, Danny would instruct me to research and find people for shows that the company was developing. Examples include searches for cowgirls, businesses run by sisters, and high-end costume shops run by over-the-top characters. Danny also encouraged me to do my own searches in areas that I was interested in. For these kinds of searches, I would research people that fit the description that Danny provided me. I would then mass email hundreds of people asking them if they fit the description and if reality TV was something they were interested in. Out of the hundreds of people that I emailed, I would get responses from about a quarter of them, and then it was my job to conduct an initial interview. I would set up a time for a phone call to get a sense of their personalities and to gauge their interest and potential for reality TV. At first I was nervous to conduct interviews and I doubted my ability to decide who would be a good fit for reality TV, but after the first few phone calls, I became confident in my ability to judge someone’s fitness for being a reality TV personality. Bryan helped me with the first few to give me a sense of what questions I should be asking, and his advice to simply go with my gut feeling was one that aided me well. Phone calls usually lasted around twenty minutes if the candidate was promising, and afterwards, if I had a good sense about the person I had talked to, I would set up a Skype session with them so that they could meet Danny, Bryan and me. If I was on the fence about the person I had talked to, I would send them an email with some questions aimed at really pinpointing what aspects of their lives would be most interesting for TV, and then I would review their responses with Danny and Bryan. Skyping the potential talent was always fun, mainly because Danny is amiable with a large personality and has a way of instantly connecting with anyone he meets. The Skype sessions would be recorded, and afterwards, if all went well, Bryan would edit them down into casting tapes to shop around to production companies.
In addition to working on project ideas that originated from our company, I would work on assignments that production companies and networks asked us to work on. For example, a major network asked us to research interior designers who specialize in wacky designs (think those that you would see on 4 Houses), and the production company, Fishbowl, asked us to research private autopsy services. The process for researching and interviewing was the same for these kinds of research projects. A third kind of research I did was compiling stories, images and videos that could be assembled into making a package for a show to be sold to networks. For instance, I worked on assembling stories, images and videos of people who have obsessions with celebrities. I found a story of one man who had 15 Miley Cyrus tattoos, a girl who made a YouTube shrine for Justin Bieber, and a couple who had an elaborate Twilight themed wedding and changed their last name to Cullens, just to name a few. I worked on this my last week of work, and Danny is already pitching the idea to production companies. Another project I worked on was assembling videos for a show about young adults who are part of wacky subcultures that their parents do not approve of. The premise of the show is that the child will bring his parents to a convention/concert/festival and try to change his parents’ minds about his lifestyle. After compiling clips from YouTube of alternative events like Burning Man, The White Party and steampunk conventions, they were sent to a production company that edited the clips into a sizzle tape for the show. Danny emailed me yesterday saying that a network has purchased the show idea, which is very exciting to hear.
Interning at Crybaby Media was an eye-opening experience that taught me a lot about the reality television industry and important lessons about conducting business. I learned about the relationships between production companies, networks and development agencies, like Crybaby Media. Before working at Crybaby Media I had never heard the term sizzle tape and I did not know how long and arduous it is to sell a show. Hearing Danny’s conversations with talent, lawyers, production companies and networks made me realize the complexity involved in creating a show. I learned that the process is sometimes a slow one that has many setbacks and challenges. For instance, Danny and Bryan had partnered with a production company and created a sizzle tape for a show about men who scoop dog poop for a living, and after many months of negotiation, the network passed on the show.
Aside from logistical lessons, I learned about conducting business. I learned to trust my instincts when it comes to interviewing people and to be confident in my abilities. I also learned the value of casting a wide net when researching. Whenever I ended an email or phone call I asked whoever I was talking to if they knew anyone else who fit the profile I was looking for or might be good for reality TV. This method of casting a wide net led me down some interesting paths, and I discovered a lot of interesting talent that may not have fit our initial description, but was better than what we could have dreamed up. This approach of casting a wide net comes from Danny’s philosophy of “taking every meeting.” Each day was packed with meetings, and some proved to be nothing more than encounters we laughed about and shook our heads at, and some turned out to be great networking opportunities.
Another lesson I learned was to have good follow-up skills. Scheduling meetings to fit around people’s hectic lives was difficult, and in order to make these phone calls and Skypes actually happen, I had to be organized and have good follow-up skills. A final lesson I learned was that while it is important to be diligent and focused, it is also important to have fun. Reality television is an exciting industry and I now see that many of the people in this industry not only cast big characters but are big characters themselves. There may be more serious firms out there, but I appreciate Danny’s fun and candid approach in building strong relationships with talent and other workers in the industry.
All in all, the internship was an incredible experience and I would highly recommend it for a JHU student who is interested in working in television. Danny and Bryan are helpful and kind and Danny has extensive connections within the industry and says he is always happy to help students break into the industry. The internship is rather unstructured, so a student should expect to do a lot of independent work, and for the student to get the most out of the experience he/she should have initiative. Each day presented a new task, and I loved the unpredictable nature of the job. I enjoyed the freedom and trust that Danny gave me and his periodic feedback about my job performance was extremely helpful.
Internship: City Paper, Baltimore, Spring 2010
Class of: 2013
From an opinion piece about objectifying men to a column about my interracial romance, most of the stories I wrote for my high school paper revolved around the subject I knew best—me. I usually left the news to my peers.
When I started at Hopkins last fall, I knew I wanted to keep writing for a newspaper. I also knew that I wanted to explore Baltimore. A native San Franciscan, I was on the lookout for ethnic food, inexpensive boutiques, and independent movie theaters. While I satisfied my cravings for food, fashion, and film during the fall semester, I had yet to write a news article or engage with Baltimore on a large scale.
Then I met Anna Ditkoff.
Special Projects Editor at City Paper and a Hopkins graduate, Anna was a guest speaker in my intersession course on The Wire. She talked about politics and race relations in Baltimore, and emphasized that it’s a “city of neighborhoods.” She discussed how City Paper covers everything local—art, film, music, and more. She also mentioned that there were still a few spots left for spring interns.
This seemed like the perfect opportunity to achieve both of my goals: to get back into my journalism groove and learn a lot about Baltimore. I introduced myself to Anna right after the class.
We exchanged emails and my resume, and a few days later she asked me to come down for an interview. She described very clearly what City Paper interns do: fact check articles, write briefs promoting events and update the paper’s online calendar with events.
Our meeting went well. She called me a few days later and offered me the job.
On my first day, Anna sat me down in a small office with a thick intern manual and a map of the row house that was home to City Paper. She told me to read through the manual and use the map to find her. Then she left.
I learned quickly that nobody would be holding my hand at City Paper—and I kind of liked it. I also learned what “facts” I would be checking – proper nouns, credentials, dates, times, addresses, almost everything short of opinion. I highlight facts and then run them by Anna to make sure that I haven’t missed any. Then I look online and make calls to verify these facts. The job is more exciting than it sounds.
It takes a lot of creativity to come up with multiple ways to find the same information. I enjoy the challenge. One time I called four different extensions of the Baltimore Humane Society to track down the Public Relations representative. The last line I called was answered by a woman who used her walkie talkie and found my source from all the way across the large property. Another time I called the public library and got a reference librarian to look up whether or not a former Baltimore superintendent was the highest-paid superintendent in the country when he was in office. As the weeks went by, I was given stories that involved more and more facts. At a certain point I no longer had to run my highlights by Anna. I even earned the occasional compliment.
My favorite fact-checking experience occurred when I discovered inaccurate information in a brief about Hopkins Spring Fair. The piece suggested that there would be a henna vendor, but when I called I found that henna was not being offered. I asked what goods would be for sale, and the woman mentioned jewelry and jerk chicken. I relayed this to Joe Tropea, the copy editor, and he was concerned with how to restructure the writer’s sentences. I got excited and told him: “I know how to fix it! Let’s put: ‘items that range from jewelry to jerk chicken.’ Joe, that’s alliteration!” He laughed and used the edit.
One of the best parts of working for City Paper has been writing 100-word briefs for the “Highlights” section. My first “pick” was about a sex shop seminar “Woman’s Anatomy of Arousal.” I asked the shop clerk if both genders were allowed to attend. She responded: “Excuse me—all sexes are invited to participate.” I almost laughed. As a San Franciscan, I should have remembered just how many letters make up the LGBTQQA acronym. It’s been fascinating to realize the many ways in which Baltimore is similar to San Francisco.
During my internship at City Paper, I’ve written picks about everything from political events to farmers’ market to pet photo-ops with an Easter Bunny. The briefs have not only made my writing more concise, they’ve proven to me that Baltimore is a happening city. I’m pleased to say that after working at City Paper for three months, I no longer feel Charles Village is the only neighborhood in “Charm City.”
And I’ve had a surprisingly easy time shifting the focus of my work from all about me to all about the community. To top it all off, I was asked to review Mamet’s Speed the Plow two weeks ago. As the receptionist at Vagabond Players Inc handed me a press packet and a “plus-one” ticket, I felt a rush of excitement. Needless to say, I called my parents the second my review showed up on City Paper’s website.
Internship: The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, Fall 2013
Class of: 2015
On my first day of work on a Tuesday morning, I stepped off the shuttle at Peabody and took the two-minute walk to the 500 block of North Calvert. It’s not an ordinary city block; the Baltimore Sun Media Group (BSMG) owns the entire thing, which at the very least made it impossible for me to get lost. Entering a headquarters this size, I’ll admit I prepared myself for failure—a mediocre intern in a well-oiled machine. My only knowledge of the industry was what I’d seen the night before on HBO’s The Newsroom, and I was prepared to do the same miserable grunt-work as the fictional interns—and inevitably somehow mess it up as well. I resolved for the final time: I was here to write, and write I would, mistakes and all. This was why I’d accepted the position of features intern at The Baltimore Sun during an already hectic junior fall.
I had never met my boss Rebecca, content editor in the Features Department, before my first day of work because I interviewed over the phone from New Jersey. She was the opposite of The Newsroom’s Will McAvoy: young, calm, and kind. She started by giving me a tour of the entire building, probably to wipe away the panicked expression on my face: “how would I ever find the bathroom?” She showed me the skywalk between the parking garage and the main building; the lunch rooms, where I could buy snacks; even the window seats where I could look out over downtown Baltimore when I took my break. I met all of the big reporters and bloggers in Features, forgetting their names immediately upon shaking their hands. Rebecca talked about the many opportunities I’d have in the future—how I’d get to sit in that conference room and write for those people.
After my tour, my first job was to copy my insurance details. I thought this was the task that would make or break how Rebecca thought of me for the rest of the semester. And of course the pages I had to copy were stapled. I struggled with whether to run them through this enormous machine that probably weighed more than my car, and then panicked, running back to her desk and asking for advice. Instead of judging me for not knowing how to operate a copy machine, she helped me take out the staples. Her willingness to help set the tone for my experience at The Sun.
Thankfully the highlight of my internship wasn’t making copies. In fact, I never made a copy again. My weekly tasks became more creative and essential as the three months progressed. Each week I was in charge of three operations: the Weekend Events photo gallery, the Weekend Watch newsletter, and the Recently Reviewed Restaurants photo gallery. For the first two, I had to compose a list of the biggest events happening in the Baltimore area, search our database for photos (which stretched all the way back to The Sun’s inception), and write up a small blurb about each one. The Weekend Watch newsletter was a little more complicated, since it included not just events but also the biggest entertainment and lifestyle articles and galleries of the week. Sometimes I’d have to watch the blogs up until my last minute in the office to make sure the most up-to-date post was featured. For the Restaurants gallery, I added photos of food from the most recent reviews by The Sun’s restaurant critic—which, as you can imagine, led to some pretty serious hunger pains by 1 p.m.
Because of these tasks, I gained an intimate knowledge of events and venues in the Baltimore area, which expanded into some writing opportunities for the Travel section of the printed paper, and for Sun Magazine, the BSMG’s monthly features publication. Nothing’s cooler than seeing your name next to something that you’ve written, something that will reach more than your family and friends on your blog.
My internship focused on the website and I learned a lot about online journalism production. I can now construct a photo gallery on Kosherfest food winners in an easy half hour. I know which photographs are “free use” for the BSMG, and how to credit photos with the names of our freelancers. I know the difference between the states of “live” and “working” (one slip in a drop-down menu could make my work, as yet unapproved by my boss, go live on the website immediately). And most importantly, I know what readers want to see reported. Compounded with a previous internship in public relations, my time at The Sun provided great training in appealing and catering to an audience, skills applicable across many industries and careers.
For The Sun most of the stories must have some kind of local tie. For example, I wanted to compile a photo gallery of ways to prepare for the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, so I narrowed my focus to Maryland, researching venues for archery lessons and theaters that hosted double feature premieres. I loved learning more about film, fashion, and dining in Baltimore; my knowledge of the city has grown immensely.
And the paper’s virtual edition never felt less important than the print edition because equal emphasis was placed on quality production for both. On my second day of work, there was a massive overhaul of the website. There was a lot of focus on choosing the right thumbnails for galleries. One of my jobs was to post our stories and galleries to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, maintaining the paper’s profile through a wide network of outlets and sharing sites. It was fascinating to be involved in the shift to online content facing the journalism industry across the world.
I won’t lie; there were moments when I struggled under deadlines, other times when I willed the clock to move not slower but faster. And I made my share of mistakes. There were days when I stayed late, and when I took work home. Out sick one week, under a deadline, I finished a travel piece from my bed, laptop in one hand, orange juice in the other.
But it was worth it. I loved just being in the newsroom. Even though Features was in a corner beside the bloggers and b the site (BSMG’s weekly free young adult publication), I could hear everything. I got a real feel for what a newspaper was like. Coworkers laughed, joked, handed out their kids’ Halloween candy, and questioned each other’s knowledge of astrology. There wasn’t any yelling, no running interns down the hallways, no shouts of “breaking news”—just this impressive organization of people who met their deadlines and had time to laugh and relax about it, too.
What was special about working at The Sun was the support and the opportunities. I learned about much more than what I actually worked on. I took away a great experience in journalism, and skills I know I’ll be able to use in whatever career I may pursue in the entertainment industry. Turning in my Sun ID was bittersweet; the news will go on every day without me.
Internship: Groove, Baltimore, MD
Class of: 2017
This semester, I interned at Groove, a digital marketing agency in the Harbor East area of Baltimore. I worked primarily as a copywriter, though I assisted with many tasks throughout the semester. As a copywriter, my main responsibility was writing blogs for clients. These blog topics and clients were very diverse; I wrote on everything from tax forms for insurance clients to cyber security for tech clients. One of my favorite parts of this internship was completing research across many different fields and industries. I was exposed to many different ideas and industries that I wouldn’t have been otherwise. As a copywriter, I also developed copy for websites and metadescriptions. I particularly enjoyed writing copy for one client who sold all-natural home goods.
In addition to copywriting, I conducted analytics. I was able to learn how to use software such as HubSpot and Moz, which allowed me to perform reviews of clients and their competitors. I also created graphics in Illustrator, sourced photos for other projects, developed outlines for ebooks, and edited other people’s writing. My work culminated in a final project that I pitched to my supervisor. In this project, I created several original blogs for the all-natural home goods client, as well as accompanying infographics. This required me to dig through pages of research that they provided, and condense it into concise, informative pieces.
It was incredibly rewarding to learn the ins and outs of digital marketing. I was exposed to so many different aspects of marketing, from writing to research to analytics, and now I have a better picture of what exactly I want to do. Agency life definitely allowed me this exposure, as I was passed around so many different apartments and asked to help out with different tasks. I can picture myself working at an agency, with its highly collaborative environment and the opportunity to wear many different hats. By taking a tour around digital marketing, I am now able to move forward in my career search better knowing my own strengths, abilities, and interests.
Internship: Independent Film Channel, New York, Summer 2011
This summer I had an internship with IFC Films in their Sales and Distribution department. Because of my dad I know a little about distribution from the exhibitor side, so seeing the process from the other side was something I was looking forward to. I worked two days a week (Tuesday and Thursday), and my duties consisted of organizing, entering, and checking box office reports for all of IFC and Sundance Select’s films, contacting individual theatre owners, checking film bookings, and providing coverage for films IFC was considering purchasing. Because IFC had one of its most successful summers with Herzog’s Cave of Dreams, Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip, and Buck, the documentary about the original horse whisperer, my work was more heavily focused on box office reports than anything else. I’d have to enter them into the aptly named program Hollywood, which holds both the flash (estimate) gross and then the box office gross (the actual amount, which we’d receive anywhere from a day to a week after the play date). If any theatres hadn’t reported to IFC, it was my job then to email them as well as make sure we had both the flash and box office gross.
While entering box office reports could be pretty tedious at some points, over the three months I got to know basically every independent theatre in the country. From the IFC Center to the Bear Tooth up in Anchorage the theatres IFC plays films at is an incredible range, and in directly dealing with the box office numbers it was interesting to see how different films played across the country. Cave of Forgotten Dreams grossed incredible numbers all summer long at the IFC Center, and in comparison to Buck’s strong returns in states like Montana and Wyoming or the growing buzz The Trip generated it was insightful to be on the “front lines” of a couple different marketing campaigns. Personally, The Trip was most interesting: a true platform release it played first in Los Angeles and New York City, and based on those numbers (which I dealt with every day I worked), it expanded into a more wide national release. Besides its grosses the film expanded based on PR and buzz, and additionally be sitting next to (and eavesdropping on!) the PR people who were making those articles happen showed me how they come to happen through both PR reaching out and outlets coming to the PR department wanting to run a story. The Trip became their sleeper hit of the summer, and definitely exceeded their expectations.
IFC does play a lot of their films with the larger independent movie theatre chains, but the majority of the films play at small, independently owned theatres—some of them so small they don’t even report to Rentrak. I had no idea there were so many of these tiny theatres, especially in cities like Fargo or Billings, Montana where I’d never expect an art house to survive. In a way it restored some faith in independent cinema!
I do wish I’d had more opportunities to provide coverage for films IFC was thinking of picking up, and the films I watched were a mix of surprisingly strong foreign films and very low grade horror films. IFC’s business model is to only pick up finished product, so I never had to read any scripts: I just had to watch movies. Providing coverage is something I’ve enjoyed doing in the past, and having another opportunity definitely confirmed it’s something that I still like, and could even pursue farther at another job. I had to send my coverage out to the entire sales and distribution department, and with each piece I wrote I usually received responses (both in agreement and disagreement), something that definitely helped my writing improve, and helped me better understand what IFC specifically was looking for in a film.
My summer at IFC gave me great insight into the independent studio system and the various aspects that go into both the purchase and exhibition of film. I learned a lot about both limited and wide release marketing campaigns, the theatres that show these films, and what IFC specifically looks for in a film to purchase. While I don’t know if I’ll be going into exhibition and sales as a future career, my summer internship was fantastic firsthand experience in the industry.
Internship: Atlas Media Corp, New York, Summer 2013
Class of: 2016
Atlas Media Corp, based in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, acts as a production company for numerous fiction-based television shows and film documentaries. I was lucky enough to intern with them this summer, providing me with a greater understanding of how the development, production, and distribution of everyday t.v. shows work. During my time at Atlas Media Corp, my responsibilities varied from cataloguing and describing each shot of stock footage to previewing new episodes of the company’s shows. One of the most invaluable experiences this summer has been working one-on-one with producers and actors in the office’s green screen room, showing me first hand how a television show is made. While yes, I was often sent out on food runs for people, I also helped the producers keep track of the takes, controlled the teleprompter as the actors read, and even contributed my own changes and adjustments to the scripts. Overall, it was a worthwhile experience and taught me indispensable tips for working in the film and media industry.