Adventures of an EPICS Intern in NYC: 30 ROCK Meets Sandy

By: Demetrios Cokinos

This past month has been a crazy one.  Everything was smooth sailing until hurricane Sandy hit.  Now we have been forced to reshape our entire shooting schedule because of the time lost.  Tandem shooting schedules (days when we shoot two episodes simultaneously) happen just about every day now, versus the more familiar occasional one.  My hours have increased, but I feel that I am keeping up with the pace of things.  Or at least think I am.  I appreciate being a part of the show every day, as I still feel like I am on the verge of waking up from some overly-detailed dream.  Before I go into Sandy and her aftermath, I would like to describe a great experience I was allowed to participate in.

I had the honor of interviewing Robert Carlock, the executive producer/head writer (alongside Tina Fey)/show runner of 30 ROCK.  Being the show runner means that Robert Carlock holds the overall vision of the show.  He and Tina approve just about every aspect of each episode before it airs.  In case you are not familiar with Robert Carlock’s work, I will tell you that he worked for Saturday Night Live (one of his most famous sketch being “NPR’s Delicious Dish: Schweddy Balls”) and later Friends before making his way to 30 Rock.  In her book, Tina Fey claims that Robert Carlock’s involvement in show is one of the main reasons why 30 Rock exists.  To say the least, as I was sitting in his office, I found that Robert Carlock is both a humble and intelligent man who understands in every aspect of making a successful TV comedy.  The half-hour that he allowed me to spend with him stands as one of the most enriching experiences I’ve shared in my time here.

Then Sandy paid NYC a visit that following Monday.  Long story short, I lost power for a week and spent the storm at a family friends in the Upper East.  Bizarrely, the storm really didn’t affect anyone above 50th street, but just about devastated everyone below.  The beauty behind this whole experience is that we went right back to work that Wednesday!  Working that day while the vast majority of NYC was still in shambles, felt somewhat apocalyptic.  For example, the subways were not working in any capacity, so the production and transportation teams running van pickups into all three boroughs – BUT sparingly because gas was beginning to run out all across the state.  The phone lines were down at Silvercup Studios; so a good part of my work day was then ruined, as the phones are my best friend.

Oh, and remember how gas was running out?  That became a real thing the following day.  A car service for our actors called and said, “Hi, our apologies, but we cannot pick up Jane Krakowski because we do not have any more gas.”  The phone rings again, “It’s Alec. It’s about Jane. It’s urgent.”  Interestingly enough, I have found that Alec always tries to help some situations if he is able.  It is amazing to see how everyone at 30 ROCK helps each other out in these tough situations.

I was then told to pick Jane up.  Normally, I would have gotten in the production van, but there was a temporary bridge regulation put into action: no vehicle carrying less than three people could enter in Manhattan.  My mission: get on the subway, jump in a cab once I get into Manhattan, get Jane at her hotel, and pray to God that the cab driver take us back to Long Island City.  So down to the subway I ran, under the bridge I sped, and into a cab to Jane’s place.  I called and left a message saying that I was outside.  And then… “Hey Demetrios, it’s Todd – Jane, by some miracle, found a car service with gas. She’s on her way over here.”

I laughed and asked the cab driver to turn back around.  I should have expected that to happen.  What I didn’t expect, however, is that Jane sought me out in the office to thank me for my trouble.  She is such a nice woman and it was a joy to have a brief conversation with her.  And as soon as she left the production office – boom, another crisis.  Tracy Morgan needed gasoline to power his fish tank generator (you know he has an octopus and a shark, right?!).  After calling all around the state, I found a good amount of gas, and his fish survived another day!

Although hurricane Sandy caused for tons of chaos at the office – like I said, we’re still paying for it now with tandem shooting days.  I truly enjoyed witnessing these people band together to continue providing entertainment.  Looking at this job from the inside, I see that it will be a lot of long hours after college, no matter what part of the industry I go to. Either way, I am excited to be involved in it in every aspect.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern in Chicago: Stay On Your Toes

By: Bridget Illing

Lately, whenever I try to update my family and friends on the progress of my internship, I find myself about to say, “Oh it’s just been more of the same. I do research, make a lot of phone calls, see some movies.” But when I think about what my last few weeks at Allied have been like, that really isn’t true. In the movie industry, a film has a very short window where anyone cares about it. There are usually about 2-3 of promotion, opening weekend, and then it’s done—at least in the mind of the marketing team. Which means, I never work on the same project for more than 3 weeks. And when you’re juggling multiple films opening in successive weeks, you never spent all your time on one film.

Which means I have had to learn probably one of the most important skills that you can have as an intern: to be flexible. In any fast moving industry, this is a necessary skill to possess. It can be really jarring to be caught off guard by a change in plans or an unexpected request, so I have been trying to always prepare for what might happen next. Oh, we have to schedule a new screening in two days and need to fill 350 seats? Yeah, I’ll just make some calls. We have a string quartet playing at Water Tower Place for a film promotion today and I need to go help out? Not a problem. Often times, my day goes by so fast because I have so many different projects that pop up. The key is making sure that I am able to finish everything I am assigned, because almost every project has a very real deadline.

Of course, there are some days where nothing too exciting or new happens, and many those days are what come to mind when I want to tell people that I’ve been doing much of the same at work. But even if what I’m working on is slow and not too interesting, I know that it’s only a matter of time before that changes. Which is absolutely what I love about this internship and this industry. Plus, if it’s ever a really slow day at the office, I can always go play the Wreck-It-Ralph arcade-size video game that’s sitting in our lobby.

Careers in the Entertaiment Industry Seminar

Interested in working within the Entertainment Industry? Register today for EPICS’ Careers in the Entertainment Industry Seminar! Through this five-class seminar, you will:

  • Discover what opportunities are for you
  • Realize how to launch and sustain your career
  • Practice meeting and interviewing effectively
  • Learn the structure of the industry and your fit
  • Write your own strategic plan
  • Implement your networking strategy

This 0-credit seminar will be offered Winter Quarter 2013 and taught by EPICS Director, Heather Trulock (alongside special industry guests). This class will meet every other Friday from noon-1:50pm on the following dates:

  • January 11th
  • January 25th
  • February 8th
  • February 22nd
  • March 8th

This course is listed as GEN_CMN 206-0: Section 20 Career Development Practicum, Class # 3260. This class is not open for pre-registration and is on a first-come, first serve basis for sophomore students and up (within the SoC).

For more information, please email EPICS Director, Heather Trulock.

The Basics of Building Your Personal Brand Online

For many students, the idea of developing and managing their personal brand through social media can be daunting…when in fact it is as easy as joining in the online conversation. Mark Babbit, CEO and Founder of YouTern, breaks it down in his most recent post for the Student Branding Blog: ReTweet, +1 and Share Your Way to a Personal Brand.

Want to learn more about leveraging your personal brand via social media? Attend EPICS’ upcoming Lunch & Learn Workshop on Friday, November 30th @ noon over in Norris, Big 10 Room. We will discuss tips on developing, managing, and promoting your personal brand online.



The Araca Group: Employer Spotlight & On-campus Info Session

The Araca Group is one of New York’s leading entertainment merchandising and production companies, with operations on Broadway and around the globe. Our producing credits include Urinetown, Wicked, Rock of Ages, God of Carnage, A View from the Bridge, Lend Me a Tenor, Catch Me If You Can, and The Merchant of Venice. This season, The Araca Group is represented by Cinderella on Broadway and Disgraced at LCT3, Lincoln Center’s brand new stage. As merchandisers, we have worked with Elf! The Musical, The Book of Mormon, Once, Scottsboro Boys, Shrek The Musical, Peepshow, Hugh Jackman: Back On Broadway, Bring It On: The Musical,  New York City Ballet and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

At Araca, I work in our Client Services department on several of our Broadway and touring shows. I am also (and most likely, of more interest to your students) the Executive Producer of The Araca Project, which began in 2009. This is an opportunity for emerging artists to foster their entrepreneurial spirit and produce Off-Broadway. Our primary goal is to give recent graduates the tools they need to mount a show in New York City. We look for participants that are eager, passionate, articulate, and creative. The most successful participants are those who are team players, hungry for a shot at creating their own destiny. Our 2013 season marks the addition of Northwestern’s School of Communication to our roster of participating schools!

Selected participants will attend a bootcamp in the heart of Manhattan; they will meet with leaders in commercial Off-Broadway ticketing, producing, casting, designing, and budgeting. Through The Araca Project, we hope artists will take initiative and assume the responsibility of a producer, including: securing production rights from an author; casting; rehearsing; assembling design elements; raising capital; engaging a creative team; loading in and out a physical production; budgeting; marketing; and maintaining a box office/ticketing system.

The application for 2013 slots will become available online January 1st, 2013. Pitches will be held in New York City in March. Selected shows will have a run at The American Theatre of Actors during the fall of 2013. We will be on-campus Friday, November 16th to share additional information/answer any questions about The Araca Project. Click here for more information – we hope to see you there!

For those of you unable to attend our on-campus info session, please email The Araca Project, check-out our website, and/or email EPICS Director Heather Trulock for more information

Danielle Dall’au graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Drama (Acting) and a minor in Women’s Studies. While completing her masters at Columbia University in management, she worked full-time at Araca and stayed post-graduation. She is originally from Miami, Florida. 

Adventures of an EPICS Intern in LA: An Aca-Awesome October!

I don’t think I’ve legitimately had an October that has gone by as quickly as the past one; it began very hesitantly, with an ominous foreboding that can’t be good for the heart, or any of my stress levels. I was nervous, and what’s more, I had no idea what I was doing (sometimes I still don’t). There were Saturdays when I was with our pseudo-retired, but entirely awesome professor/faculty “adviser” at a restaurant on Melrose (where there was one semi-famous dude and a Johnny Depp impersonator), and all I could think was how everything fit within the grand scheme of things.

One thing that I’ve learned is that Northwestern is actually really well represented in LA. I saw a lady jogging one day with a Kellogg sweatshirt on, and I was tempted to give a shout out; she was also in one of the ritzier areas of LA, so I guess that says something about NU. Go U! I’ve seen way too many movies (please don’t ask how many times I’ve unapologetically seen Pitch Perfect) and I’ve spent too much of my life looking for parking (trust me, I’m always early to our Saturday breakfast meetings with our professor, but I seem wholly incapable of finding a parking space that fits the requisite requirements to actually, you know, park there, so, consequentially, I’m late. I’ve seen parking spots with “36-minute parking” and ones with four signs that each contradict each other (in which there is probably only a 30 minute window in which you can actually park).

My point is that I have slowly discovered another reason why it’s important to live in LA while you’re doing this internship, apart from actually working on the job. It’s taken me a near-accident, endless treks through parking garages and sunburns because I don’t actually have sun block yet, and I forget that it’s actually still summer here, to realize that you are effectively “scouting” out the city so that, when you do move out here, you already have a leg up on what areas to live in, what areas to avoid, and how to cope with the sheer inevitably of traffic that will make a six-mile drive a one-hour engagement. But, it’s all part of learning how to play the game, and it makes Northwestern students stand out even more. I sat in on a Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance (an LA-based networking group for grads) event the other day (in which I kept hoping they wouldn’t discover that I hadn’t actually graduated yet) and it’s pretty amazing the level of talent out here. There really is no reason why there shouldn’t be a whole cadre of ‘Cats taking over Hollywood (although it can’t be far away).

Consider an internship as a “test” run where you can make mistakes without them affecting you as much as if you had a full-time position. Further, in internships, I’ve found that they are more willing to forgive mistakes, but, ironically, even more impressed when you do things well. And, coming from Northwestern, ultimately we do a lot of things well. That’s not to say that I haven’t had a few times when I’ve been told that there is another way of doing things; that’s the point of a learning experience, after all. An internship in this business (especially out here) is an exercise in just beginning to develop a thick skin. It will get thicker as time goes on, but it helps to start learning how life works within Hollywood, because it is a very different than the real world (or even Northwestern classes, for instance). And, without a doubt, you’ll start to make friends in all kinds of places, ranging from work to people who you’ve dealt with throughout your time at school who are based in LA for whatever reason. And, consider that, as Northwestern kids, we do have to make an extra effort for networking in Hollywood, as we are at an obvious disadvantage solely for the fact that we’re in Chicago (which is awesome for amazing-but-heart-attack-inducing pizza, but bad for entertainment gigs other than theater) and not in LA. The EPICS internship program is, without a doubt, that extra mile. Don’t hesitate to get in your car and just drive, no matter how much traffic there is…

Till we excitably meet again.

Troy – RTVF ’13