Here are some tips for how to utilize an internship as part of your film MFA curriculum.
Intern for a Career
No matter how much formal education you have, when you first enter the job market you are not going to become competitive without professional experience. This is especially true in the film industry where film jobs are really given to those that have practical and professional experience with the production methods, production company procedures, post-production software and skills, and every other element of the commercial film world. To pad your resume by the time you graduate from a master's film program you will need to use film internships to supplement your education, there by allowing for yourself to transition from academia into your career. This can be tricky as balancing course work and student film projects with film internships is not always an easy task. Here are some tips for trying to integrate fim internships into your graduate film school experience.
The most important period of time needs to be used in your summer months, or whenever you are not in class. Most film Master's of Fine Arts programs are fairly track oriented and will only allow for summer months off, which means that you can commit yourself to full time film internships or to more than one film internship. It is in these periods of time you will not have to negotiate your schedule to allow your film internships to work. You may be required to receive credit for your film internships from the comany you will be working for, and often times you can arrange this with your school to receive credit during the regular school year for a summer film internship that way you will not have to pay tuition during a summer term.
Many larger film internships at studios or feature film production companies will actually require that you get academic credit, and in these situations you should keep this option open. If this is not required then you should not try to receive academic credit as this may end up costing you more in terms of tuition and will limit the number of classes you can take, which you will need to elevate your skill set.
Choosing an Internship
Choosing a film internship is always a difficult choice, but it is going to be best to apply to as many film internships as you possibly can. This also means opening up the type of internships you apply to, meaning looking in to applying at television companies, talent agencies, non-profits, film festivals, and other types of internship positions that you may not have thought of originally. You may want to shoot for some of the larger film companies and studios, but make sure you spread around your applications so that you can ensure that you find a quality film intership. You should also note that if this is your first film internship you may not have the credentials yet to apply at the larger and more well known companies, which means you need to get some under your belt first. Smaller production companies will also allow you to get much more hands on experience, which will be very valuable.
At some point you are going to need to have film internships that are specific to your focus, which will allow for a more seamless transition into your professional life. For example, if you are looking at post-production and editing then you need to head into those positions at production companies or post-production houses. If you are looking to be more involved in production as a director or producer you will want to get on set as a production assistant, so make sure that your film internship will facilitate this.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you may want to avoid film internships that do offer pay. Paid internships are not always a bad option, but often times the pay is low and it will then allow the company to work you much more than you would otherwise be willing. If you can find a larger salary working in another type of job and then work at your film internship for free this will force them to give you more flexibility. The film internship and the company will not be able to level the same kind of demands on you and you will be able to tell them exactly when you are free and available.