THE 2013-2014 AMBASSADOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
Learn about the film industry from the perspective of an independent production company
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Network as best you can; start-ups typically do not recruit.
This summer, I interned at Allison Shearmur Productions, a start-up film production company located in Hollywood, which has a first-look deal with Lionsgate. I got my position through a direct contact. In November, Allison Shearmur, who is the former President of Production at Lionsgate, where she oversaw the production of films such as THE HUNGER GAMES and the AMERICAN PIE series, spoke at Penn on behalf of Media & Entertainment Week, hosted by the Undergraduate Media & Entertainment Club and Alpha Kappa Psi. Ms. Shearmur is a Penn alumnus, and after her talk, I spoke with her one-on-one. Through this interaction, she referred me to one of her Creative Executives, who offered me a position as a summer intern.
During the summer, I lived in Westwood, and the production company was located in Hollywood, so I had to travel around an hour everyday there and back. I would work on average from 9-7PM, and in my role, I would write coverage for scripts and books. In entertainment, agents that represent writers will submit their clients’ work to production companies, and if the producers like a script, they will purchase it.
However, producers do not have time to read all the incoming material, so they will hand it to an intern for coverage. Coverage involves two components: summary and comments sections. In the summary section, the intern provides a detailed summary of the piece of work (3-5 pages for a script, and 5-7 pages for a book). Then, in the comments section, the intern will provide a critique of five aspects of the piece of work: Premise, storyline, character development, dialogue and structure. Interns must ask themselves: Is the premise unique? Is the storyline engaging? Do the characters change throughout the script? Do the characters have clear motivations for their actions? Is the dialogue realistic? Does the script follow a three-act structure? Then, once the intern completes the coverage, they will have a conversation with an Executive about whether the script or book would make a good film. For me, I would like to work in the entertainment industry when I am older, and I have not decided whether I would prefer working at a talent agency, independent production company or studio. In film, the agents represent actors and actresses; the independent production companies originate projects, and then pitch them to the studios; and the studios buy projects and then provide financing, distribution and means of production. This summer, my experience at Allison Shearmur Productions helped me understand how a small production company functions, and also helped me learn that I really like the role of producers. While I still plan to explore other components of the entertainment industry, I can be sure this is the right field for me!