Monday, February 8, 2010

Is interning enough?

Lindsay writes: I've had a few friends that got jaded working for an agency. Would you have honestly worked at an agency to begin with? Couldn't interning 2-3 days a week get you most of the same opportunities?

I wouldn't trade my agency experience for anything. It's turned out to be absolutely invaluable in both connections and knowledge. I don't think you'd get the same experience just by interning. Interning is great, but it's akin to dipping your toe in the giant ocean of Hollywood. Whenever I meet interns now, I always kind of laugh to myself because they don't even know how much they don't know. (I was plenty naive as an intern, too.) If you intern at an agency, you might get to do a lot of the same tasks as the mailroom staff, and I'm sure you'd learn a lot. But you wouldn't get to listen to an agent's phone calls the same way an assistant would. I didn't fully understand how Hollywood worked until I became an assistant.

If you've already completed some scripts, it's possible that you could get your supervisors to read them - and then maybe the intern connection would be enough. But I'm willing to bet that most interns don't yet have professional-level samples that would be seriously considered. I know I didn't.

Bookmark and Share


samuel.x.killer said...

i was an intern, but i was lucky enough to be at a studio, though i was working five days a week. interns were allowed to cover desks, giving the important experience that people actually need to get a job. additionally, there was a job opportunity in the company when the internship ended and i was able to stay there because i already knew a lot of people. yes, i was a pretty naive intern, but it was a lot better experience than a mailroom. i don't think it'd be worth it to be an intern at an agency (vs. the mailroom) but at a production company or studio or even a network, you could get great experience and good contacts. i wouldn't dismiss an internship out of hand, but be sure that it's an internship that isn't just the office coffee runner

Brandon Laraby said...

I did an internship at a small indie studio when I was first starting out -- learning to be an offline editor when I wasn't mopping floors, cleaning the studio and making coffee.

Though I didn't pursue editing as a full-on career choice, learning to look at stories through an editor's eyes has helped my writing immensely.

Sometimes you gotta approach a problem sideways to get the best results for you.

As I've learned through my own adventures, there's no one singular 'break-in' story; Every writer who crossed the ravine has their own genesis.

Sasha said...

There's not a "right" way to break in, blah blah blah--

BUT I've certainly wasted too much time justifying why I should expect everything to come to me in the easiest/most convenient way, why I don't need to bother with the usual path. That kind of thinking is lazy and scared and useless, and hasn't gotten me anyplace. Plus, now I've paid my dues in all kinds of ways that don't matter, and I'm going to be paying them for much longer still.

So while it might not be necessary for anyone to work at an agency, it might be worth considering why you don't want to.