By Nicholas Jackson and Keisha Martin

Summer wasn’t much of a break for the Ohio University School of Film Division. Several students were able to apply academic knowledge into real work practice through internships and freelance work. These industry experiences provided students with the opportunity to hone their technical skills, expand their knowledge, and forge new connections with other people in the field. Apart from working in the industry, these students were also able to travel and experience new cities and towns.

Michelle David, Thesis Year MFA Student

  Michelle David, Thesis Year MFA student, on the set of  Haunted

Michelle David, Thesis Year MFA student, on the set of Haunted

What was your experience over the summer?

I spent the summer working as a production assistant and post-production intern at High Noon Entertainment in Denver, CO.

How did you find the opportunity?

I found this opportunity through a Film Division email from Steve Ross. Duke Hartman, the Chief Operating Officer of High Noon Entertainment, is an alumnus of Ohio University.

What did you take away from this experience?

This experience provided me with the invaluable opportunity to learn about all areas of the creation of a television show including pre-production, production, and post-production. I took away valuable insight about what it takes to launch a T.V. show from the ground up.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was working on set of a Food Network TV show called Haunted Gingerbread Showdown. Getting experience on the set of a major television show provided me with real-world experience in the industry in which I hope to work after graduation.

What was your least favorite aspect?

I didn’t have a least favorite aspect. This was an incredible, well-rounded experience.

My education at Ohio University was a great asset during my internship. At OU I learned about the software Avid Media Composer, which is the main software they use at High Noon.

How do you feel your education at Ohio University prepared you?

My education at Ohio University was a great asset during my internship. At OU I learned about the software Avid Media Composer, which is the main software they use at High Noon. I was able to quickly pick up tasks such as footage logging, script synching, and pulling selects because I was already familiar with the software. I was also able to perform the tasks expected of me on set because I was already familiar with set etiquette and expectations from my time at OU.

Any advice you could give to a student looking for similar opportunities?

Keep an open mind when searching for internships and remember that at this stage of your career you’re not above any task or position.

Jacob Midkiff, 2nd-Year MFA Student

What was your experience over the summer?

I spent the majority of the summer freelancing on a multitude of different projects. Some of these were Ohio University based like being 2nd AC for Brian MacNeel’s Thesis film “Potter’s Field” in Philadelphia, as well as being a gaffer for OUSOF Alumni, Jordan Sommerlad, who was Director of Photography for a short film being produced in Columbus. Many other projects were excellent professional opportunities (and thankfully paid.) I was able to be Boom Operator for an upcoming ION Christmas Feature Film, A Country Christmas, shot in Columbus, Ohio, as well as Production Assistant for a Cleveland Browns commercial shoot in Cleveland. I was involved with gaffing on a pick-up Director’s Cut shoot for feature film, American Bigfoot, as well as 1st AC for a proof of concept feature shoot in Marietta, Ohio. The last project I was able to work on during the summer was 2nd ACing for a union-based Cincinnati Insurance commercial. I’m sorry for including so much, but I had a busy summer and wasn’t sure which individual thing to focus on.

  Jacob Midkiff, 2nd-Year MFA student, on the set of  A Country Christmas

Jacob Midkiff, 2nd-Year MFA student, on the set of A Country Christmas

How did you find the opportunity?

Many of these opportunities came from colleagues I’ve worked with in the past, or from being recommended by people in the Ohio industry familiar with my experience and work ethic.

What did you take away from this experience?

The overall take-away from all these experiences was that although there’s a common string of rules and expertise in filmmaking, not one on-set experience will be similar to another. It takes a bit of adaptability and resilience to be able to work steadily in the film industry for a career, and despite the chaos of it all, it felt like a fulfilling opportunity.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was definitely the diversity of the projects and the sociability of it all. Every week would be new equipment, new cameras, new crew, and new talent. Every project had its own large educational takeaways and had its own friendships and professional relationships to add.

What was your least favorite aspect?

The least favorite aspect of it all was the constantness of it all. Those who are lucky are the ones constantly finding work, but there’s a dark side to wrapping a shoot; only to be thrown into a whole new shoot the following day. Especially when the days are 12 hours and you’re having to spend a month sleeping on a friend’s beanbag chair in a different city. (Thanks, Nick.)

How do you feel your education at Ohio University prepared you?

My education at Ohio University prepared me as well as it could, but it couldn’t prepare me for everything, of course. Some things you can’t learn at film school and can only be taught by making mistakes and being thrown into the deep end. Although, I will say that the only reason I got hired for the Cincinnati Insurance Commercial gig was because I had 16mm film experience on my C.V. so thank you Ohio University and Steve Ross for that one. I owe you one.

Any advice you could give to a student looking for similar opportunities?

Don’t turn down the opportunity, but more importantly, don’t waste your time on set. It’s easy to let your nerves and lack of experience get the best of you, so you retreat into the shadows, but 95% of the people on set are there to help if you don’t understand something. Take the time to learn and don’t be afraid to ask questions. More importantly, make a habit of watching and you’ll be surprised by what all you can learn from just observing.

Savannah Heller, Senior HTC/BFA Student

  Savannah Heller, Senior HTC/BFA student, enjoying the life in sunny Los Angeles.

Savannah Heller, Senior HTC/BFA student, enjoying the life in sunny Los Angeles.

What was your experience over the summer?

This past summer I had the opportunity to spend 3 months in Los Angeles, CA as part of the OHIO-in-LA program. In addition to taking classes such as the Business of Hollywood, I was also able to gain some practical experience through internships at Extra Credit Studios, a selfmade stop motion animation company, and ThinkFactory, a larger development company. Both offered me a perspective on different types of careers and helped me hone different skills.

How did you find the opportunity?

I came across the OHIO-in-LA opportunity when I was looking through OU's various domestic and study-abroad programs. It immediately appealed to me because I viewed it as a safe space to explore the many careers that aren't always covered in classes (such as development, production design, etc.) and to explore L.A. as a city and determine if it would be a place I might like to live in the future.

Make as many connections as you can! It can be intimidating sometimes, but a friendly face and casual conversation can go a long way (as does clear communication and punctuality).

What did you take away from this experience?

My biggest take away from this summer was quite simply confidence. Confidence that even though the industry may be intimidating with a little grit and determination it is possible to have or build a fulfilling career.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part by far was getting to interact with all the speakers that were brought into class. Each one had worked in a different area of the industry and offered a new perspective, helpful advice, and plenty of practical knowledge. Disneyland, the beach, and the state parks were also absolutely amazing!

What was your least favorite aspect?

It was a little difficult to transition into being a normal student again - your perspective changes and you just want to keep working and gaining real-life experience.

How do you feel your education at Ohio University prepared you?

There were many practical skills such as writing coverage, basic editing, and understanding how a set works, that I learned in my classes at OU that came in handy while I was out there.

Any advice you could give to a student looking for similar opportunities?

Make as many connections as you can! It can be intimidating sometimes, but a friendly face and casual conversation can go a long way (as does clear communication and punctuality).

Kanat Omurbekov, 2nd-Year MFA StudenT

  Kanat Omurbekov, 2nd-Year MFA student, flexing his cinematograpy muscles.

Kanat Omurbekov, 2nd-Year MFA student, flexing his cinematograpy muscles.

What was your experience over the summer?

During the summer, I did my internship in Birds Nest Foundation (BNF) in New York City. BNF is a video production company that specializes in non-profit and documentary filmmaking. We 9 interns were split into two groups and had to make a small documentary video every week. Basically, on Monday, we were given a topic, mostly in the social sphere, by our curator; then we had to research and write a script about it. On Tuesday, we had to reach out to people who we were going to make a film about. Shooting day was mostly on Wednesday. We edited it on Thursday and presented our final cut on Friday to out curator and manager of the BNF.

How did you find the opportunity?

I am a Fulbright student and I applied to the Muskie Summer internship program, which is sponsored by the government of the US as well. So, the program offered me to take the internship in BNF.

What did you take away from this experience?

It was great experience in terms of living in NYC, networking with other film interns, and gaining some new filmmaking experience.

What was your favorite part?

Shooting a film in NYC, talking with interesting people and exploring NYC.

What was your least favorite aspect?

Transportation. Because renting a room close to my work place, Central Park, Manhattan was quite costly, I had to rent a room in Brooklyn, close to Coney Island, and had to ride a subway for one hour just to get to the work. But sometimes it was exciting though, because NYC is full of talented people and I was entertained by singers and dancers while riding the subway.

How do you feel your education at Ohio University prepared you?

I learned a lot of techniques of filmmaking during my first academic year in Film school. I would say I was well prepared to create a video for BNF, especially working in a team and handling all camera and other equipment.

Any advice you could give to student looking for similar opportunities?

Because I am an international student, I am not very familiar with internship programs in the US. My one suggestion that may help students is to start looking for an internship as early as possible. Because most studios start their application process at least half a year before the internship and there are thousands of students seeking an internship, spots may be filled quickly.

Ben BouxSein, Senior HTC/BFA Student

What was your experience over the summer?

This summer I was an intern with the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. I was in the commercials category and I was placed with a number of different host companies, such as Radical Media, a prominent commercial and music video production studio, Outpost Digital, their in-house post-production house, and TBWA Media Arts Lab and Chiat\Day, two very large and well-respected advertising agencies. I was able to shadow many different professionals in the field and get my hands dirty working on a lot of exciting projects. Additionally, all the Academy interns were exposed to different networking opportunities and events, and were all honored at the 2018 Emmys ceremony.

How did you find the opportunity?

I discovered the opportunity through an Email sent to me by Steven Ross, the Director of the film program at OU, and I decided to pursue it.

What did you take away from this experience?

For me, it really helped me grow as a person both professionally and personally. I really grew accustomed to a professional lifestyle and workflow. But most of all, I was really able to clarify to myself what my role within the industry is and what I want to pursue the rest of my professional career.

What was your favorite part?

Getting to meet great people and really be a part of what I’ve put so many years of hard work into was absolutely the best part. It felt so rewarding to finally stand amongst legends in the industry, knowing that I got the chance to work alongside them of my own merit.

What was your least favorite aspect?

Commutes, housing, and logistics of living in LA are an absolute nightmare. 100% worth it, though.

How do you feel your education at Ohio University prepared you?

Being able to build up my resume with all the opportunities that being in the HTC Film Program has afforded me really helped prepare me for the whole experience. I was able to catch on fast and really apply myself simply because I had so much background in filmmaking.

Any advice you could give to student looking for similar opportunities?

Take whatever professional or academic opportunities come your way because however small they seem, they could lead to you landing something bigger and better, like in my case. Every experience you can gather is going to contribute to your success later on down the road, so don’t pass anything up.

Bianca Malcolm, 2nd-Year MFA Student

What was your experience over the summer?

I was chosen as an intern by the Television Academy Foundation (the philanthropic arm of the Television Academy, the people who bring us the primetime Emmys) in the Television Scriptwriting – Drama category. And I spent 8 weeks in Los Angeles this past summer as a Writing Intern at Grey’s Anatomy. As part of my experience at Grey’s, I sat in the writer’s room and observed and participated in the writing process, from idea inception to storyboard and script discussions to production. I was even able to shadow writer and co-executive producer Mark Driscoll on his episode (Episode 1503). I sat in on production meetings and watched the filming of the episode from the set.

How did you find the opportunity?

Steven Ross, the director of the Film Division, sent an email to all students about the Television Academy program. I am working to become a TV writer, so I decided to apply.

What did you take away from this experience?

I really want to be a TV writer, but I’m not certain that I’m cut out to be one. From what I observed, being a TV writer requires a certain personality that I neither possess nor care enough to fake. I might have to stick to feature screenwriting so I can maintain my hermit-like existence.

What was your favorite part?

I loved being in the writer’s room and getting to experience the script development process first hand. It was amazing to see the different dynamics at play and experience how a group of minds come together to create a piece of art that only one (or two) names will be put on. By the end of the summer, I not only knew pretty much everything that was going to happen in the first half of Season 15 of Grey’s, I knew how the writers got there, including plot points that changed along the way and why they changed. Additionally (WARNING: I’m about to drop a lot of names), I attended a Season kick-off party at Debbie Allen’s house, spoke with Betsy Beers, Shonda Rhimes’ producing partner, toured all of the sets of Grey’s and For the People, met some of the cast, like Jesse Williams, and sat in on cast table reads. I also got to meet Rob Doherty, a former TV Academy Scriptwriting intern and the creator and showrunner of Elementary and former writer on Dark Angel, Tru Calling and Medium (all shows I either watched or currently watch), Rickey Minor, TV Academy Foundation member and former music supervisor of American Idol, Mandy Moore, choreography intern mentor and Emmy-winning choreographer from So You Think You Can Dance and La La Land (NOT the singer/actress), and Mark Cendrowski, TV Academy Foundation member and director on The Big Bang Theory. It was pretty cool.

What was your least favorite aspect?

Hands down, Los Angeles was my least favorite aspect of the internship. It’s expensive and dirty and smelly and I don’t know how people can happily live there. The public transportation system also sucks. Every minute I was there, I was wishing I was in New York instead. I do not want to live there for any length of time. Unfortunately, this is not possible since the only TV writing jobs are in L.A., so I will have to move here after school. Maybe L.A. will grow on me by then. Oy vey.

How do you feel your education at Ohio University prepared you?

My education here didn’t prepare me for my internship, which isn’t a knock on the program. I landed this internship during my first year, before I could gain any TV experience in the program. For instance, the first year of the program focuses on writing and producing short films. Short form scriptwriting is much different than writing for the television screen, so I couldn’t carry many of the skills I gained in my 1st -Year screenwriting courses to my internship. I am currently taking Teleplay which teaches skills that would have been better suited for my internship and will most likely help me in my journey to become a TV writer.

Any advice you could give to a student looking for similar opportunities?

Apply to any and all opportunities you are suited for even if they are long shots. The TV Academy received nearly 1900 applications for 53 slots in the 2018 Intern class. The odds were definitely not in my favor, but I was chosen (along with Ben Bouxsein) on my first application in one of the most competitive categories, no less. Don’t be discouraged because, as they say, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you fall, you’ll land among the stars.” Also, please carefully read and follow all application instructions. And meet the deadlines!