As my Education Internship at the NW Film Center, a Portland-based “media arts organization founded to encourage the study, appreciation, and utilization of the moving image arts” draws to a close, I find myself overwhelmed with appreciation for the opportunities extended to me through the summer. In order to accurately and succinctly convey these numerous experiences, I will be using a combination of prose paragraphs and lists.
This is the equipment room where I have worked 20 hours a week for the past 10 weeks. These hours were spent recommending film equipment to an unbelievable range of filmmakers, from third grade students who had never held a camera to grizzled professional film-making veterans, prepping and checking out film gear, editing marketing videos, creating outreach spreadsheets for film festivals, and completing projects that arose daily. On the best days I met regional film professionals, learned about equipment I had no idea existed, and exercised my creativity by generating ideas for and filming original marketing videos. On the worst days, I prepared one too many light kits.
Working at an educational non-profit has been indescribably valuable to my scholarly and professional aspirations. What became immediately apparent by working at the Film Center was the sweeping accessibility that set it apart from other camera services in the area. Through the low-cost equipment and the aforementioned mind-boggling diversity of the clients I saw pass through every week, I was exposed to a variety of projects and film-making advice. I loved working with an organization that promoted such accessibility, and it taught me that I enjoy supporting film-making at the local artist and educational level, as opposed to a more corporate level. Which brings me to my first list:
What I Have Learned at the Internship: An Incomplete List
- At a small non-profit it is rare than each employee does not fill a plethora of positions. Every staff member is absolutely critical to the efficiency of the operation, and you must toss out the idea that “someone else” will take care of a problem that arises. That someone else is you!
- That one must wear all shades of black in the film industry if one does not wish to look like the bird from Up at a dog park.
- How to digitize VHS tapes.
- That there is little in this world more satisfying than cleaning off a greasy grimy Mac desktop screen used for editing.
- About the existence of, utilization, and maintenance of a Canon XA10, XA305, Arri Alexa Light Kits, Benro Tripods, Minoltas, various Super 8 cameras, Beaulieu 4008, Seinnheiser ME66 Kits, Wireless Lavaliers, and much more.
Other opportunities I have taken advantage of through the NW Film Center’s internship program include free admission to our Whitsell Auditorium (right now we are screening a David Lynch retrospective, a Regional Filmmakers series, and Classic French Cinema), and discounted equipment rentals which I have used for personal film projects over the summer. More beloved experiences are below:
- Enrolling in an Arri Alexa Camera Operation workshop at the Film Center with professional regional filmmakers. This is the Center’s first and only professional camera (new it costs somewhere around $80,000), which was generously donated to us by Koerner Camera Systems, another local camera rental house. And now I know how to use one in theory and I would argue more importantly, in practice! (pictured above)
- Spearheading marketing videos for the Center. During the inevitable downtime that comes hand-in-hand with an internship, I decided to create storyboards for promotional videos and after gaining approval from my supervisor, set about filming and editing said videos. I loved being able to use my creativity to complete these projects, and learn about all the technical aspects of filmmaking along the way.
- Attending Professor Robert Sickels’ documentary screening Vernacular Viewings, at the NW Film Center’s theatre. This opportunity made me feel extremely connected to the Whitman community, and even more excited to take Professor Sickels Beginning Film making course this upcoming fall semester.
This summer through my Education Internship, I gained critical experience working in the film and media industry, especially as it pertains to the intersection of youth media and education. I familiarized myself beyond the basics of film and video equipment knowledge in a fast-paced social environment, and am eager to continue my film education at Whitman this fall and seek out more intensive film related experiences in the years to come!
If you would like to read about my internship in greater detail, feel free to take a look at this blog I have updated throughout the summer!
Experiences like Jillian’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.