This summer, I am a Video Productions Intern at Big Shoulders Digital Video Productions, located in the Hancock Building downtown. I found this by searching Career Cat and the EPICS databases for film-related internships in Chicago. I vividly remember my first day, walking into the Hancock Building thinking, “Oh my Jesus, I’m going to be working in here,” and waltzing into the office to find a bunch of interns that were either seniors or graduate students. It’s an understatement to say I felt out of place.
My internship consists of me helping out with pre-production, production, and/or post-production aspects of video production. My company deals extensively with all of these aspects, plus event planning and countless other things. They provide video services to anybody that needs them throughout the country, including national TV networks, agencies, and large corporations. Currently, they are Chicago’s largest independent production facility. Most of the time I work on pre-production work, such as researching prices, calling companies for this and that, and finding places the company can get certain resources. Production-wise, they have asked me to help them out as a PA (Production Assistant) on sets of commercials or TV shows they might be filming for a client, but because I also have another job at SPAC on the side, I have not been able to do unpaid work for them on sets. Sometimes when I am in the office, I might also get opportunities to edit footage the company has, which extends from footage from events they filmed or time-lapse footage of random places in Chicago.
One thing I value from this internship is that I am in direct contact with the boss the days I come in, which are Wednesdays and Fridays. He is this tall mellow guy that is always, always on the phone. Luckily, I have been doing really good work in the office, according to the boss, and he has asked me to accompany him, some of the company, and some freelancers the company hired, to help put on and film massive parties for a big-time client. I had to sign a confidentiality agreement not to name it, but just know that are pretty huge and everybody knows them. Anyway, I drove down to St. Louis, and flew to Nashville and New York City with the company. At these cities I did various activities, including building and striking sets, lighting partiers, driving a Hummer and a sports car, leading a group of Faux Paparazzi to make the partygoers feel special coming into the party, and many other things. Nashville and St. Louis had a smaller turnout, maybe 500 people a piece. New York City’s party surpassed capacity of the venue, so about 3500 people were packed into the venue, and it was pure, exciting, chaos.
Overall, this is one of the best experiences I have had in my life. It is unpaid, but I only have to come in two days a week. Because of my boss appreciating the work I was putting in, I have gotten to travel to cities I have never been to. I have learned so much about the film business and its many expanding aspects. I have made some great contacts because of this internship and even good friends, most of them older than me. My advice, to freshmen film-majors in particular, is you should really try to get an internship relating to film the summer after freshman year. It’s a lot of work, especially since freshmen are literally the bottom of the barrel, but the film business relies a lot on experience in the field and not so much what classes you take. Start working in the business early, so you can get contacts as well, because the harsh truth about the business is that it’s really not about what you know, it’s who you know.
About the NU Intern Blogger Program
This summer, over 50 Northwestern University students will be sharing stories about what they are experiencing at their internships from across the country and internationally. Each week new students will share an inside look at what it means to be an intern. Please contact Betsy Gill, Assistant Director, Internship Services if you have any questions.