My name is Clara Greenstein, I am a junior Classical Studies-Latin Major at Whitman, and, although the immaculate lighting of my picture might suggest otherwise, I am not interning as a movie star this summer. What I actually do is support movie makers at SFFILM in San Francisco California. Although SFFILM is mostly known for screening completed films at the San Francisco International Film Festival, one of the longest running film festival in the Americas, it gets involved in movie-making long before films are ready to be seen. It’s in these early stages of production where my department, Artist Development, does most of its work. Through grants, artist residencies, and events we help independent filmmakers gain the skills and funding to create great movies.
My main project at SFFILM this summer has been streamlining and editing the copy for the Artist Development website to ensure that filmmakers understand what grants are available to them and how to apply for each. This mostly entails reading emails from frustrated applicants and changing the website wording to limit future confusion. Although the website project has been a constant this summer, I have had the opportunity to participate in an array of other Artist Development tasks as well. One highlight was participating in two different film review panels. Although I can’t divulge our review process, I can say that I got to read and watch more than one hundred applications and helped to decide what films got sizable financial grants.
Another incredible thing about my experience this summer has been the exposure to the film industry. My office is located in FilmHouse, the SF FILM artist residency space, so I’m surrounded by incredible filmmakers every day. At lunch I get to chat with Sundance winning directors about their next project or just the struggle to find parking in Chinatown. Bumping elbows with these creative people has been ridiculously inspiring. When I’m not in the “office,” I get to volunteer at networking and screening events. Notable moments include a short film premier and a q & a with the cast and directors of Blindspotting (which you should all go see).
Even though 2 month’s rent here costs more than a semester on the Whitman meal plan, I think my experience at SFFILM has been well worth the trip. I will leave this city with an in-depth understanding of the difficulties of budgeting, filming, and distributing a movie, a lot of obscure movie references, a lot of business cards from talented, creative people (who are frankly out of my networking league, if there is such a thing), and some top notch barista skills (no one has just one job in San Francisco).
Experiences like Clara’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