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.
Zach Byrd, 2019
Plan B Entertainment
Zach Byrd, 2019
Even though I always knew I wanted to make film and television one day, I honestly had no idea how I would go about doing that. Actually, I still didn’t believe that I would somehow see my path unfold before me when I was accepted into the Hopkins Film trip to LA. How wrong I was! On the first day of the excursion, it felt as if the entire world of the industry was not only visible, but feasible to break into. We met with writers, directors, studio executives, and many other players in the industry who all gave us their time, unique perspectives, and advice. There’s also an alumni panel where the students on the trip get to meet with alum from Hopkins who have made the trek to LA to start their careers. In fact, it was at this event that I made a connection that led to an internship at Plan B Entertainment—yes, I met Brad Pitt—that very summer. There’s almost no chance that I’d be able to put that on my resume without this trip. The trip’s duration was only a single week during Intersession, but the connections I made and the lessons I learned will last a lifetime. Currently, I’m living in Los Angeles developing a television show and feature-length screenplay and prepping for pitch meetings. Hopefully that all goes well. Fingers crossed!
Chaconne Martin-Berkowitz, 2017
Chaconne Martin-Berkowitz, 2017
The summer before my senior year, I interned in Los Angeles at Beachside Films and Mandeville Films, the latter a job I landed with help from a JHU alumna who was working there at the time. I read script submissions, wrote script coverage, covered desks for the producer’s assistants, and researched potential development material. I particularly enjoyed presenting my notes on scripts during company meetings, as it allowed me to directly participate in the daily workings of a production company. After I graduated, the internships helped me secure a job at United Talent Agency, where I worked as an assistant to a Motion Picture Literary agent. I felt prepared for the position at UTA because I had experience doing things like answering calls and giving script feedback.
These internships not only prepared me professionally, but also clarified whether I wanted to move to LA permanently. At first LA was daunting— it was sprawling, I couldn’t drive, and I didn’t know very many people. Spending a summer there allowed me to explore the city in my spare time. I discovered my favorite neighborhoods, coffee shops, and hikes, and also made friends through my internships. LA felt far less daunting to me when I moved out a year later, and soon it felt like home. I’m currently a TV Writers’ Assistant on Sony’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, and making a short film based on a feature I wrote.
Brandt Matthews, 2020
Brandt Matthews, 2020
The intersession networking trip in LA gave me a clear idea of how to navigate a career in entertainment and what practical steps I could take now to one day land my dream job. Meeting with alumni and industry professionals from a variety of backgrounds showcased the many different ways a degree from JHU can be utilized, from creative development to production to nonprofit work. The connections I made helped me land an internship at
Skydance Media working in their digital marketing department. There, I was able to see how companies cultivate relationships with fans firsthand while also utilizing my creative skills in new ways. With the support of the Film & Media Studies program, I got further clarity for my career path and was introduced to a city I’m excited to one day call home. I’m currently taking full advantage of the work-from-home life, balancing a production assistant role at Small Giant in NYC with being a remote literary assistant at Bohemia Group in LA.
Giovanna Molina, 2019
LA trip participant
Giovanna Molina, 2019
I joined the Hopkins LA trip during my junior year. It was a great opportunity to both get a sense of the city and hear advice from key industry leaders. The trip excelled at showing students a range of work environments and paths within the film industry. I appreciated the trip’s focus on engaging with the JHU film alumni network in LA—especially the young alumni network. I moved to LA this past September to attend UCLA’s Directing MFA program. Upon reflection on my past year in LA, I’m confident that the LA trip aided my decision to pursue graduate school here and encouraged me to keep in touch with my fellow young alums.
Jakob Pollack, 2021
Jakob Pollack, 2021
In the Summer of 2019, I interned at ICM Partners. There’s no way in heaven that I would have gotten this internship if not for the amazing connections I made through JHU’s Film and Media Studies (FMS) department. I met Laura Gordon, a JHU alum and a tenacious young agent at ICM, the prior Intersession when I joined the annual LA trip with Professor Linda DeLibero. This one connection led to a brief email correspondence, a flagged application, and finally a successful interview. I had gotten my foot in the door, so to say, thanks to the network cultivated by Hopkins.
Once at ICM, I was IV’d directly into the pumping artery of Hollywood. Agencies are the hub of all info in the entertainment heart of the world. I covered desks for high-powered agents repping all your favorite stars. I read enough bad scripts to know I had a chance to be a writer in this unforgiving industry. I read enough good scripts to know what the future holds for movies and TV. But most importantly, I pitched a client to ICM. Nothing teaches you more about the world of agencies than pitching a new client, and I will be forever thankful for the experience.
I am entering my senior year at JHU with more goals than I will accomplish, and that’s okay. That’s just what it’s like to be a Hopkins student. What I know for sure is that I will keep writing great scripts. What I hope for sure is that one day you will see them on the silver screen.
Vanessa Richards, 2019
Vanessa Richards, 2019
Studio North, Johns Hopkins University’s student-run production company, provides a wide range of opportunities for students to gain hands-on production experience throughout the school year and beyond. Throughout my time as an undergrad, I grew my network as well as my skill set by working on Studio North-funded student projects. It is an excellent way to connect to the film scene at Hopkins, grow as a filmmaker, and meet other students with a similar passion for storytelling through filmmaking.
I was eventually a Studio North grant recipient myself, which allowed me to shoot House, a documentary web series about house music in Chicago, Detroit, and Baltimore. House explores regional differences in house music and what it means to be a member of the house music community, and features interviews with DJs, fans, singers, and promoters. I was lucky to work with a great team of friends and family, and I had the support of both Studio North and the Film & Media Studies faculty, who helped me bring this story to life.
I’m currently working in Los Angeles at NBCUniversal as part of the Page Program, a 12-month rotational learning and development experience, with a position on the Universal Pictures’ Creative Development team.
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.