How to Get a Film Production Internship
You are probably familiar with the internship programs offered by major corporations, but did you realize that most movie and television production companies also offer a wide variety of internship programs?
For almost every aspect of production, from writing to camera work to producing, there is an internship program. Internship programs serve two purposes for a typical production company: 1) the production company gets free (or very cheap) labor, and 2) an internship program allows them to identify potential candidates for current or future positions.
For the intern, the benefits include hands-on experience and the opportunity to build a relationship with the individuals who will be responsible for hiring you should you end up working out.
Being an intern also has advantages that might not be available to most full-time employees of a given company. For example, you have the ability to explore other avenues. You are not necessarily bound to doing one particular task. In fact, you are often encouraged to talk with other departments and ask more questions compared to full-time staff.
Whereas the typical production employee is often expected to cope on day one, interns are usually provided ample training and given the leeway to make mistakes because their inexperience is assumed.
Where to Look for Internship Programs in Entertainment and Film
Production internships can include working in various departments such as makeup, camera, or lighting. Or, you might find yourself as an office intern working with a major media corporation.
To find these internship programs, there are a few places you can look:
If you are still in school, your career center is a potentially valuable resource and should have some contacts you can pursue. Talk to a career counselor to explore their resources and the best way to approach a potential employer.
Almost every major media company now offers a wide variety of internship programs in just about any capacity you can think of. Often, these opportunities are posted on their websites. If you have trouble locating an internship program, try looking for the "About Us" or "Corporate Info" links on their sites, which should take you to their job boards and internship program information.
In both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, you will find weekly lists of every television and film production that is being shot. Many of these lists will include phone numbers for the production office. Simply call these numbers and ask for a production coordinator. Once that person is on the line, explain that you are looking for any internship opportunities they might have available. More often than not, they'll direct you right where you need to go.
Things to Remember
It is important that you realize how big an opportunity an internship really is. This is your chance to shine. Most internships are unpaid (although sometimes school credit or a stipend of a few hundred or thousand dollars is offered), but it is still crucial that you treat it like a full-time job. Remember, these are the people that might one day give you your first entertainment job, and you want them to see you in the best light possible.
What about a deferred pay internship program? These have become more popular, especially with smaller production companies who will often pay their employees after a movie or television show is produced so that they can put any extra money directly into the production. Just be sure that if you agree to a deferred pay arrangement that it is likely you will never be paid. It's more important (and ultimately much more valuable) that you learn while you work.
Your only responsibilities as an intern are to listen and learn. You might be given a few seemingly lowly duties, such as fetching coffee or running someone's personal errands, but the more respect you give the intern opportunity, the more you will get out of it in the long run. The education you receive while in an internship program could quickly prove to be thousands of times more valuable than a paycheck.