Adventures of an EPICS Intern in NYC: 30 ROCK- The Beginning of the End

My name is Demetrios Cokinos and I am a Radio, TV, Film student at Northwestern. I am currently working for NBC’s TV show 30 ROCK this quarter in New York City at Silvercup Studios.

I thought that this job was going to be very difficult, but in actuality, it is a delight. Tina Fey and I stroll the halls of Silvercup Studios together, laughing, talking about our common Greek heritage – how both of our grandparents always make sure we are eating (and eating, and eating) and the common obsession our dads share with speaking Greek perfectly (though mine does so with a broken Texas accent). And yeah, none of this happens. At all. The only nine words that I have spoken to her are as follows: “Hi Mrs. Fey, the table read is this way.” She responded with a nice, “thanks,” followed by a funny Liz Lemon-esc spin around.

I started this past September at 30 Rock as an intern and was later promoted to a paid position about 5 weeks into the job. I am now a full-time office production assistant – meaning I answer the phones (“Production, this is Demetrios.”), make copies, go on set runs when we are shooting on location or general runs, which consist of picking up equipment or delivering contracts to vendors and actors – basically anything that falls under the miscellaneous category. Another job I have that pops up every so often is finding arrays of clips for the editors to cut to in a given episode of 30 ROCK. For example, in the episode “Stride of Pride,” written by Tina Fey with guest star Ryan Lochte, Jack Donaghy accepts that he is an older bachelor type. At the end of the episode, he watches a clip of a couple dancing from an old black-and-white movie with his young girlfriend. Through a painstakingly long process, I was the one who searched through hours and hours of classic movies to find the perfect dancing clip for the episode. I watched about 10 movies all the way through, looked at tons of youtube clips, TV episodes, and new coverage trying to fit the vague description of, “well, we need a clip of old-fashioned dancing…” I narrowed down the selections and presented a handful of clips to the powers that be. I felt a modest sense of accomplishment when the episode aired – I got to contribute to a full 3 seconds of an episode!

For me, the most exciting part of my job is when we do table reads. A table read consists of all the actors who have lines in an episode, the 50 most important people in 30 ROCK (department heads, their associates), the L.A. executives on conference call, and then myself. Before a table read, I will prep the room – connect the conference call phone, start the camera, set up the monitor – and as a true bonus, I am allowed to sit in on the table read. My first table read took place on location at Wall Street. I had just completed setting up the lunch spread when Jack McBrayer (Kenneth) and Judah Friedlander (Frank R.) walked in. Jack made a comment about the lunch spread and how wrong it was…and after I had a mental freak-out, I realized he was kidding.

After the cast and crew grabbed lunch, I made my way into the table read. I found a seat by the air conditioner – I had the important job of turning it “off” if it caused audio interference for the Skype call. Jack found it hilarious and proceeded to make some more jokes. Ah, show-business. Anyway, observing a table read is by far the greatest aspect of the show. You get to see the actors and actresses experiment with different character choices with a fresh mind (as it’s their first time reading the script too) and then you get to see them laugh at the joke themselves! Alec Baldwin always gets a kick out of Jenna’s hysterics. With a table read, you witness the creative process in full-circle: the writer of the current episode sees his or her words interpreted by the actors, the department heads see what is in store for them with the shoot, and the director starts to piece all of the elements together in his or her mind. I am very fortunate to be able to see one of the finest groups of actors and so many talented creatives in one room.

So far, I feel incredibly grateful and humbled by what I am privileged to do everyday in their last season, and all that I need to learn this semester. I am having a phenomenal time at 30 Rock and in NYC as a whole. I am learning more and more every day about what it is like it live in the “real world” and to work in the film and TV industry.

Until next time,

Demetrios

Employer Spotlight: Comedy Central’s Summer School

Comedy Central has a long history of discovering talent; we find one-of-a-kind voices and help their careers become laughable.  South Park, The Daily Show, Colbert Report along with Tosh.0, Workaholics and newcomer Key & Peele all rely on amazing comedic voices- both in front and behind the camera.

Comedy Central’s Summer School was founded in 2005 with the intent to expose talented, young comedy writers of color to all facets of the industry.  With the help of co-founder and comedy innovator, Chris Rock, the internship took flight.  After 8 years, students continue to enjoy unprecedented access to network executives and show talent while honing their comedic chops.

As Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Communications, it’s my great pleasure see the program from spring recruitment through the end-of-summer send off.  I work alongside our partner universities to help search for the best candidates.  With an 8 per class limit, we want to find students that will not only bring their talents to bear while they are with us, but will also take full advantage of this opportunity to learn and grow.

Students spend 8 weeks at our New York City offices in the west village.  They won’t learn how to make coffee or clear paper jams, but instead rotate through our on-air, digital, and development departments, plus spend a week at The Daily Show and Colbert Report.  Needless to say, they are the envy of all the other interns, and not to mention a few staffers!

The ideal candidate for the Summer School program is not only a promising comedy writer, but has a sincere aspiration to be a part of the entertainment industry.  Who is an ideal candidate?  Being a ‘go-getter’ sounds corny. But having a real appreciation for the opportunity by demonstrating a willingness to work hard, ask questions, and proactively offer time and energy, that can’t be understated.

Good luck. I look forward to answering your questions in person during my upcoming campus visit!

Kelleigh Dulany serves as Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Viacom Entertainment Group. In addition to managing Comedy Central’s Summer School, she is responsible for spearheading pro-social and diversity initiatives, as well as leading numerous employee engagement programs for the Viacom Entertainment Group.

Interested in applying for Comedy Central’s Summer School? Contact EPICS Director, Heather Trulock, for more information. (heather.trulock@northwestern.edu).

Completed applications and recommendations are due to Heather/EPICS by 5pm on 2/8/13. Hard-copies or email submissions are accepted.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern in Chicago: Perks of Being an Intern

By: Bridget Illing

Bridget is currently a junior, working in Chicago during fall quarter 2012, & enrolled in the EPICS Academic Internship Program.

I have been working at my internship in Chicago for nearly two months now, but I still haven’t gotten over how lucky I am to be working at a place like this. Allied Integrated Marketing is a company that runs publicity for virtually every film studio. They have branches across in the country in cities big and small, and each promotes films for their area. In the Chicago branch we cover Indianapolis and Milwaukee as well if the studio call for publicity in those areas. Several parts of this internship might sound somewhat mundane, but I’ll do my best in these blog posts to convey just how cool this all is to an amateur film buff like myself.

I work in the office two days a week. The hierarchy is laid out so that there is a senior publicist and junior publicist paired up and they have an assigned set of studios that only they work with. There are 18 publicists total and about 12 interns, though on any given day there are usually only 5 of us in the office. Interns are assigned a publicist pair, so each morning I go to my publicists and see what projects she needs me to work on.

For the most part, my role is to research appropriate groups to invite to advanced screenings of films, call those groups, and send out tickets. I go through this same process for distributing promotional materials like posters or whatever fun stuff the studio sent us with the movie logo on it. Last week I was working on a horror movie, so I was calling haunted houses and ghost tours in the area. It’s pretty straight forward, but the publicists put all the responsibility for making sure a screening is full or the promo items get distributed, so the work I’m doing has very tangible results.

Again, some of this is probably just regular office work, but it all feels much more vibrant when you’re surrounded by people who love sparring about the merits of any film, be it a major blockbuster or an obscure foreign film, or discuss what Al Pacino wore the opening night of the Chicago International Film Festival (because they were standing right next to him).

Plus, my favorite parts of the internship happen outside of the office. Every week there are so many advanced screenings or events happening, and interns are called upon to work at them. Events can be hit or miss. Trying to hand out flyers at the zoo for a ‘Madagascar’-themed party is not easy when you have to ask the parents if you can take a picture of their kid holding the flyer to send to the studio. But other times, you get to watch a room full of Girl Scouts have the time of their lives when they meet Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice. So it evens out.

Screenings on the other hand, are a part of this experience that I can’t believe is an actual job I get to do. I try to sign up for every screening that I have time for, since once we check all the guests in, our only job to watch the movie and take note of the audience reaction. I’ve been able to see so many exciting movies before they premier, movies I would have paid to go see, but now it’s my job to see them. I don’t think it gets much sweeter that that. This week I’m going to several movies playing at the Chicago International Film Festival. Normally, I’ve been able to make it to maybe one movie at the festival, which plays over one hundred films from around the world, and now I get to be exposed to so many movies I would never have had the chance to see.

So far, I have almost no complaints about this internship. Before I started, I had no idea positions like this even existed, and now it has given me a much clearer idea of what I would like to do after Northwestern. I am hoping that as the internship progresses I can take on bigger projects and get more involved with things like press tours, but for now, I’m just enjoying the experience and grabbing as many promo t-shirts as I can.

The Araca Project: On-Campus Info Session

Calling all SoC 2003-2012 alums and 2013 expected graduates!

To learn more about The Araca Group/The Araca Project, visit their website and/or check out EPICS’ latest Employer Spotlight blog post from The Araca Project’s Director, Danielle Dall’au. Northwestern’s SoC is excited to be a part of their 2013 season!

Adventures of an EPICS Intern in LA: The Dreams (Transformations) Start Here!

By: Troy Quezada

Troy is currently a senior, working in LA during fall quarter 2012, & enrolled in the EPICS Academic Internship Program.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I arrived in the City of Angels (alternatively, City of Big Paychecks) , and I still have to constantly remind myself of the good fortune I have to be able to participate in a program such as the one EPICS offers. Over the next three blog posts (if I had more, I’d turn this into a dramatic novel, complete with characters and instances of hitting cars while trying to parallel park… oh, wait…) I will try to paint a complete picture of what it is like to live and work in Los Angeles over the course of a quarter, so that hopefully you all can apply and have this really great experience.

I’ll start the blog by giving some background into my internships (that is, after all, why I am here). I was extremely fortunate to get two internships. Many hard August application days later, I am pulling double duty, working five days-a-week (eight hours-a-day), yet, I couldn’t be happier. The first is at an active (two films since August and one this month) acquisitions-oriented distribution company (they don’t produce films, but buy pictures that are already made or have cast/director commitments). I am an acquisitions and distribution intern. So far in my time at the company, I have covered scripts, filled in for a sick receptionist and a vacant executive assistant position, input box office reports and researched current films for the company’s acquisition-deal list.

The other position is in film development at a director’s production company in Santa Monica, so, while it moves a little slower, it still offers me the opportunity to see both sides of the business, so to speak. I do a lot of reading at this internship, so if you are interested in anything film-related, you should actually know that reading is a major component of it, so if you’re like me and can tear through the next Percy Jackson book in a week, than, by all means, knock yourself out!

By far the the greatest thing about this internship is that I’ve already gotten more real-life experience than I ever thought possible, and I continue to learn more; it really is an invaluable opportunity that should absolutely be mandatory in at least one way because, in this business, contacts are important, and so many come from simple day-to-day interaction. I don’t think I’ve even been to a formal occasion where I’ve had to “network.” Still, especially when I was a receptionist at the acquisitions company, I had the opportunity to see and meet everyone who would walk by the desk, most of which were executives in different departments.

I, unfortunately, have heard horror stories of people who have done internships that seem solely invested in paper-pushing, or in grabbing coffee for the executives. But I challenge you to rethink that presumption because, if you show your supervisors what makes Northwestern students so awesome, it’s only a matter of time until you begin proving to them that Northwestern students are among the hardest workers in all of showbiz (or at least among the colleges known for churning out excellent film kids). At my production internship, my supervisor makes it her mission to help the interns learn. Rather than start you off immediately when you begin the internship, she gives you samples of everything you need to learn; afterwards, you discuss them. On coverage (summarizing and giving your thoughts on a script), she will go over your coverage for you, seemingly making it her goal to make the internship truly a learning experience. The bottom line is that internships are LEARNING experiences!

I’ll touch base on this a little more in my next entry but, if anything else, the internship program should be appealing to you if not for the fact that it is in Los Angeles! So, to put it another way, when it is in the 40s at night in September, I’m wearing shorts and getting sunburns! It’s the land of endless summer, and I almost feel like the weather is conducive to getting work done. It mellows you out. It all boils down to a simple question: if offered an opportunity to change your college experience and make it even more unique would you?

Story Pirates Performance on NU campus 10/19

Come see a hilarious sketch comedy show based entirely on stories written by elementary school kids! Three amazing collections of improvisers are teaming up for a night of kid-created comedy: Story Pirates (based in NYC and Los Angeles), Barrel of Monkeys (Chicago) and Griffin’s Tale (Northwestern’s own!).

The show will be at 8 pm on Friday in the Wallis Theater.

Suggested donation is $5 for students and $10 for non-students.

EPICS/SoC Drop-in Career Coaching: Fall 2012

Drop-in career coaching is available to SoC undergrads without appointment. Each session is 15 minutes in length.

The EPICS Coordinator can advise students on general career questions; critique resumes and cover letters; explain what resources are available within the SoC/on campus; and get students started on their internship search.

Drop-in appointments take place in Frances Searle (2240 Campus Drive), Room 1-102 from 2-4pm every Tuesday and Wednesday while classes are in session.