Case Study 9 Vision Film Company Internship

Oliver entered the film industry three years ago having previously worked as a press photographer. Entering the industry as a trainee, Oliver currently works as a Digital Imaging Technician.

Can you tell our members what inspired you to enter the film industry?

I was previously a press photographer and was one day invited to a film set by a friend. I was sold from then.

Did you work on any short films to gain experience, if so how do you think it benefited you when applying for paid work?

I went to University to study film - here I helped create various short films over my period of study. I really enjoyed Uni but I would probably stress that it isn’t vital that you study film, you can get enough experience working or helping out on shorts films that you can then use as a foot in to the industry. 

How long did it take you to get your first permanent paying job, and what was the path you took to get you there?

Took me around 6 months working part time, doing shorts on the side after Uni - gaining experience as I went. My first proper full paying job was a low budget feature shot in Wales. 

Whilst working as a camera trainee what were your responsibilities?

As a trainee I made lots of tea, ran cables, gained invaluable experience on how to act and behave on set. Camera specifics were; learning about kit, what it did etc. How to organise things, make correct notes, and all the bread and butter things that the Camera Department needs to run smoothly.

Can you tell us a bit about your current position and what your job entails?

My current position as an on set colourist is to facilitate the vision of the DOP and the Director with live grading on set. This vision is then maintained, sent down the pipeline throughout post and is tweaked and polished by a colourist before conform and publish. The idea is; what we see on set, is what you will get out at the end. My role is creative but also some technical aspects come into play. I design the workflow prior to shooting, I setup the cameras, make recommendations to the DOP re: anything camera related or technical. I also backup the footage and check through to make sure we are shooting what we want. 

Are there any processes or elements of the job/industry that have come as a surprise and you would want to pass onto others?

The quality of catering is significantly better on commercials than it is on music videos. :)

Do you find your role difference depending on the type of production you are working on, eg. TV drama, music video, feature film? 

Yes, my role can change quite dramatically depending on the production. Lower budget you end up doing more for less.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

The highlight of my career so far is meeting new and interesting people all the time. Everyone collaborating to create something, be it a commercial or feature film. No day or job is the same.

What advice would you give to those who are just starting out?

Stick at it. The first 6 months are hard - you will be earning nothing and doing lots of work. It will pay out in the end. Nurturing work relationships is very important too- be friendly and keen to learn.

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Susanne’s internship was with the English National Opera (ENO), a charity with the aim of making opera of the highest quality accessibly to all.

What she did?

During my internship at ENO I was assigned several different projects. My first task was to create an induction pack for new employees to the company, which was a great means for me to get to know the company, its diverse departments and staff. For this project I conducted informal, semi-structured interviews with people from different departments, drawing on knowledge I learned in the core course Interdisciplinary Research Methods in first year. After researching existing induction packs and best practice, I synthesized the information into a proposal of what the final product (a booklet) should look like and what information and sections to include. I then began collating the final product by gathering information from the various departments through numerous meetings, emails and existing documents. This included information about the company, such as its mission, vision and history, policies and code of conduct, amongst numerous other sections, making for a very comprehensive final product. Getting to know the individual departments and their roles and functions through my interviews was one of the most fascinating aspects of the internship for me.

My second major project was in collaboration with the Marketing and Communication departments, which involved researching and writing reports on market development strategies. This was my favourite project, as it really helped me get a feel of the company’s work and challenges. The research focused on competitor analyses, comparisons of website structures and layouts, as well as suggestions for promotional opportunities, partnerships, and how best to reach specific target audiences. Subsequently I created an action plan calendar that outlined marketing initiatives to pursue and implement in the coming year, together with their respective timeframes and estimated costs. Additionally, I generated a comprehensive database of communication channels for specific target audiences with short descriptions and contact details.

My final project was creating an induction pack for the ENO Board, which involved a great deal of independent research on duties, rules and regulations of Board members and trustees. I also collaborated with Board members and various ENO staff to gather information. At this point I was relatively familiar with the company and staff, which made the project a great deal easier since I knew who to contact for specific information. This project helped me improve my presentation skills, as I was introduced to a new style of presentation with distinct layouts.

In addition to these main projects, I worked with the Development department to create survey questions in response to categorized audience data segments. Furthermore, I fulfilled other small tasks like creating charts or updating databases as and when needed.

Did it meet her expectations?

My internship at ENO definitely exceeded my expectations, as it embodied interdisciplinarity in more ways than I could ever have imagined or expected. The departments ranged from ordinary ones like Finance and Marketing departments to more creative ones like Wigs and Makeup, the Orchestra, Chorus and Artistic department, to unexpected ones like Hat-making. Despite their great diversity and highly dissimilar roles, they were all working towards the same end goal – their mission of making high-quality opera performances accessible to all. This made me realize the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, putting my studies in the BASc into perspective. I came to understand the vitality of having a mission statement that guides a company in order to achieve a shared goal despite underlying differences in areas of expertise and methods of operation.

I was positively surprised to find how much relevance the practical experience had to the existing theoretical knowledge that I had accumulated in my time at university. Information from the BASc core courses was of particular relevance, especially Interdisciplinary Research Methods for conducting research and interviews, and Approaches to Knowledge for noticing and understanding the interdisciplinary alliances and connections within the company.

I was expecting to get an insight into the arts and heritage sector, however I gained a great deal more – transferable skills, connections and a newfound love and appreciation for opera and performances.

How has it impacted her professional and personal development?

This internship will definitely resonate with me. I have witnessed interdisciplinary collaboration in action and I have recognized the importance thereof; without teamwork, cooperation and most importantly coordination of the diverse departments, the company simply would not function. Furthermore, I expanded my insight into the professional working world, as I worked the full hours and days like all other employees. Much of what I learnt and developed are transferable skills such as setting up, preparing for and leading a meeting, efficient note-taking, and time management. I was given the liberty to organize my time and meetings the way I wanted to, so long as I had all work completed for set deadlines. The feedback I received on my reports was invaluable and definitely of help for the future, particularly concerning the formatting of PowerPoint presentations.

On a personal level, I realized the importance of being engaged with one’s work and the cause one is working for. In fact, in my spare time I enjoyed learning more about opera and the wider industry, watching opera productions and going to see other theatres and productions in London in order to gain a deeper understanding of the work I was doing in my internship. I ascertained that in order to perform well at a job, it is vital for the employee to identify with the company’s mission statement and vision, which I certainly did with ENO.

Moreover, I have acquired a much deeper understanding of the arts and heritage sector as a whole, in addition to the immense challenges that are faced by charities, including funding, media presence and youth engagement, to name a few. I obtained an understanding of the workings of a large charity and the experiences, insights and connections I have made are of great value to me both personally and professionally. I was able to see the work that goes into opera performances on stage, behind the scenes, as well as out of sight in the offices where I was working. Most importantly, however, I was able to witness the co-dependency and counterpart importance of the respective intrinsic parts.

How has the experience affected her career goals?

This experience has confirmed and furthered my interest and desire to work in the arts and heritage sector in the future. The vibrancy, diversity and creativity that I observed through my work at ENO have definitely inspired me to strive for a job in this unique and fast-paced industry. Each day at work posed different challenges, which often required fast action to be taken so as not to affect the performance standard of the company. Moreover, working with the CEO and senior managers of the company was insporing in that it has provided me with excellent role models of accomplished and hardworking people.

To me the greatest takeaway of this internship is knowing that my work was useful for the day-to-day running of the company and that I made valued contributions. The survey questions I created for the Development team, for instance, were used to send out to ENO’s clients for their annual survey, my work for the Marketing and Communications team will be used for the development of future audience engagement projects, some of my suggestions for promotional opportunities were adopted, and the induction packs I produced will be used for years to come.

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