Sunday, October 2, 2011

The end of Hollywood internships?

Yesterday, a friend of mine told me that his company has discontinued offering unpaid, school credit-only internships as a result of the BLACK SWAN intern lawsuit. They are permitted to hire paid interns - but it doesn't really make budgetary sense for them. As John August once blogged about, essential tasks generally fall to paid assistants, not interns - and these assistants are often expected to have some kind of experience.

Well, crap. I had hoped the lawsuit might spur a discussion about educational experiences versus unpaid assistant-ships, but I suppose that was naive. If the result of this lawsuit is that companies are afraid to offer internships, it could be very bad news for people just starting out in Hollywood without experience or important relatives. Internships can be a great way to learn about Hollywood, make connections and, as one of my commenters noted, find out more about the job you think you want. I'm concerned that a lack of internships will mean that it will become even harder for non-connected people to break into the industry, because they'll be trying to delve into assistant-level jobs without any experience at all. I'm a perfect example: my internship supervisor is the person who recommended me for my job at the agency. My agency job led me to my manager (among other people). Without that internship, where would I be now?

Interestingly enough, the same friend I mentioned above started at his company as an intern and has been promoted several times over the past few years.

Have you guys heard of any companies changing their internship policies as a result of the lawsuit?


JMay said...

So, the guy suing because of closed door policies is making the system more closed. Irony is an evil, evil wench.

PublickOccurencez said...

This is absolutely the wrong lesson to learn, but hey. You can always volunteer on film sets and network the old fashioned way - by creating movies, planning events, and going to bars.
The perks are you make your own schedule and don't get cell phones thrown at you.
The downside is that, without free interns, corporations have to create jobs.

Dan Williams said...

I'm hoping this is just a pothole along the way and will pass relatively quickly.

My guess is that lots and lots of companies are happy with their interns, and so are interns. But maybe more issues need to be discussed and some more rules need to be written governing the company-intern relationship.

I would have thought so much more of Natalie Portman if she had insisted on getting her own coffee so as not to put a dent in the dignity of her assistants.

Scott said...

This is the worst and stupidest kind of overreaction. The problem is the companies that give unpaid internships for NO college credit. Internships for college credit are fine and necessary. And cripes, you could even get away with paying a less than minimum wage stipend to non-college interns if you just take the time to teach them something.