Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Saying Goodbye

It’s my final week at both MGM and Good Clean Fun, and I’m constantly shocked at how quickly this summer slipped by. I’m certainly ready to make the trek back to Portland, but there’s no doubt I’ll miss all the new people I’ve met at my offices. I might not miss LA so much, or rather, I surely won’t miss the traffic and constant struggle to find parking anywhere I go.

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to see Hercules at the cozy theater in the MGM Studios building one day before it premiered. It was a thrilling experience because I’d never gotten to attend a company event like this before. When the lights dimmed and the MGM logo burst onto the screen, the whole auditorium cheered. It was fantastic to be in the presence of so many prideful people who’d worked tireless months on the project unfolding before us. Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to see MGM’s next production, If I Stay, during my last week at the office!

My co-workers and I meet Leslie David Baker (The Office) at the Summer Soiree for The Creative Coalition.
My co-workers and I meet Leslie David Baker (The Office) at the Summer Soiree for The Creative Coalition.

A couple weeks ago, I also had the pleasure of working the Summer Soiree event with The Creative Coalition, a non-profit production organization. The event took place at an adorable Russian restaurant and bar in West Hollywood called Mari Vanna. My duty was to stand at the front door with a guest list and check in the executives, producers, and actors who would attend the event. I’ve gotten many opportunities this summer to speak professionally with office executives, talent agents, and famous actors, and it’s been an extremely beneficial skill to master.

For instance, these last few weeks at MGM, I’ve been entrusted with the task of covering an assistant’s desk. I’ve learned to answer phones and transfer calls while using all the professional lingo of a Hollywood assistant. While terrifying at times, I know the things I’m learning as a temp assistant are going to come in handy very soon, as most higher-ups in the entertainment industry start off as assistants. I also understand that, as an intern, by bosses assume that I will make some mistakes along the way, but in the end, it’s all a learning experience.

Although I’m saying goodbye to LA soon, I am extremely thankful for all the connections I’ve made this summer, not only with my bosses at both companies, but also with my fellow interns and Northwestern cohorts. I know that I will take all these new skills back to student film sets at Northwestern, to my leadership positions on campus, and, most importantly, to my next internship. The life of an unpaid intern is not a glamorous one – I’ve worked long hours, been pushed far outside my comfort zone, and dealt with unforeseen professional issues – but it’s wholly necessary for one to grow in this industry. Without these summers as the lowest figure on the totem pole, it would be very difficult to understand how to excel in the months to come, and most importantly, how to eventually become the highest head on the statue.

Haley Boston is a rising junior RTVF Major interning at MGM Studios in Los Angeles, California.

 

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Navigating the Big Move

Welcome to the magical world of the unpaid intern! Stretched ahead of you are miles and miles of luxurious Californian highways, beaches everywhere you turn, and massive buildings housing production companies both big and small. This is your stomping ground for two months, and you have everything in your power to make the most of it.

In the spring of my freshman year, I thought I’d ignorantly try to secure myself an internship in Los Angeles for the summer. By some stroke of luck, after sending my resume out to over twenty production companies, I received an email from the intern coordinator at Endgame Entertainment asking for an interview. My mother and I took a side-trip out to Beverly Hills during spring break, and a week later, I received a call informing me that I’d gotten the position! I was thrilled at first, but soon a nauseating feeling sunk in as a terrifying question popped into my head: What now?

After one summer with its ups and downs, I can confidently say that I’m looking forward to moving out there again with some new insight to smooth out the transition. This summer I will be interning with MGM Television Studios in the development and production department. In this first blog post, as I make the trek from Portland to Los Angeles, I’ve laid out a couple tips on how to get settled after that initial decision, based off my experience from last summer.

Housing

The UCLA AEPhi sorority house I lived in last summer
The UCLA AEPhi sorority house I lived in last summer

Finding reasonably priced housing around LA is not as hard as it may seem. However, you must be open to subletting from strangers, and perhaps sharing an apartment with strangers. But they won’t be strangers for long! I’ve had most luck with Uloop, which helps students find housing near university campuses. This summer, I’m living in an apartment in Westwood with a friend from Northwestern. Last summer, I lived in a UCLA sorority house, which I found from doing a little surfing on the UCLA summer housing website. Westwood is a fantastic college town (very similar to Evanston, in fact). If your internship is located closer to other universities, like USC or Loyola Marymount, make sure to check out those campus websites for housing info!

Transportation

The car my grandfather graciously allowed me to borrow for last summer
The car my grandfather graciously allowed me to borrow for last summer

I cannot stress enough how essential it is to have a car in LA. However, it can be a difficult investment, especially if you’re too young to rent a car. Fortunately, I was able to borrow a car from family members for both summers. There are still a few viable options if borrowing is out of the question. A friend of mine had her car shipped out to LA from the Midwest, which I hear can be cheaper than renting for the entire summer. In addition, some car companies do rent to individuals under the age of twenty-five. That being said, a few friends of mine have survived the summers without a car. It’s a much cheaper option, but it severely decreases your independence. You become dependent upon the public transportation system, which can be quite unreliable in Los Angeles. You’re also at the mercy of your friends for routine things like grocery shopping, or weekend outings. I’d recommend doing your best to secure a vehicle, even if parallel parking isn’t your strong suit (It’s certainly not mine).

Making Connections

Now that we’ve got all the basics out of the way, let’s get down to the important stuff: Connections. When you’re given the opportunity to spend each day interacting with the people behind the scenes, the people who call the shots, and the people creating the next big thing in Hollywood, you’ve got to maximize your potential. At Endgame, I organized a meeting with Cameron Jewell, one of the Creative Development Executives. All I had to do was shoot him an email, and he was nice enough to spend an hour answering any questions I had about the industry. It was easily the most beneficial part of the entire experience. Not only the CEOs and executive team members will help you gain traction in the industry, your fellow interns are also excellent people to network with. Remember, other interns are college students from across the country, all with enough credibility to get the same opportunities as you! Who knows what they may be doing down the line. At the very least you’ll meet awesome people with many of the same interests as you.

Haley Boston is a rising junior RTVF Major interning at MGM Studios in Los Angeles, California.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Final Hoorah!

As always, my last couple of weeks has been full of excitement here at Capitol Towers.  As I reflect on my final weeks at Virgin Records, I look forward as well. I’m hopeful that what I have learned this quarter will help me on my current and future endeavors in the entertainment and music industry.

Arcade fire performing on Capitol Towers
Arcade fire performing on Capitol Towers

Some especially memorable days occurring here at Virgin were when the indie rock band Arcade Fire performed on the Capitol Towers roof while fans flooded the streets.  The famous Vine Street was even shut down for this event! East coast indie rock trio Basic Vacation was also in the building and I got to chat with them before their interview.  One night, while I was at work late finishing up some charts and desperate for a break, a co-worker and I stopped by the signing party for our new artist, Mike Jay.  It was great to see his supporters show up – as well as see the excitement that a newly signed artist exudes!

Grizfolk on top of Capitol Towers
Grizfolk on top of Capitol Towers

Last week, our newly signed band Grizfolk was recording in the Capitol Towers studio for a video called ‘One Mic, One Take.’  As always, I loved being in the studio and seeing the music come to fruition.  Afterwards, we all headed up to the top of Capitol Towers to film them singing during the beautiful sunset in Los Angeles.  It was truly a day to remember.  We topped it off with a chipotle buffet in the artist’s headquarters above the studios.  Creating relationships with as many artists and executives as I can during my time here has been very crucial to creating a strong network that will continue long after my internship.

Looking back, I have learned much about what the marketing and A&R departments entail.  I have seen how marketing tracks social media numbers, creates an image for their artists and how they create a full plan for each artist’s success.

View from Desk

I’ve learned how A&R tracks the top music charts to see what artists and producers are popular: how they scour the local music venues for independent acts; what sounds they are looking to sign, as well as, how they help shapr that artist’s “sound”. But mostly I have learned how much everyone at Virgin Records works together to fulfill their common goals.  I must say that of everything I have learned, the knowledge that Ron Fair, Virgin’s President, has shared with me has been the most significant takeaway. Through merely watching him interact in meetings, studio sessions or one on one talks he has helped shape me into the person I am today.

Capitol Studios
Capitol Studios

As the weeks wind down and the end of my time at Virgin Records creeps near, I begin to realize how valuable this experience has been for me.  From partaking in the many fun facets of the industry to learning how all the many parts of a record label coincide; it has been crucial in shaping me into the music executive I hope to become.

 

 

Natalie Edell is a senior RTVF major at Northwestern interning with Virgin Records this quarter.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: The Other Side of Entertainment

After my first couple of weeks here at Virgin Records, things started to calm down a bit.  Instead of partaking in all the extracurricular entertaining sides of the music industry, I got to sit back and begin learning more about how a record label truly functions from the inside out.

Virgin Records
Virgin Records

I began attending more A&R (Artists and Repertoire) and marketing meetings, which really allowed me to understand how all the parts of a record label coincide.  In the A&R meetings we went through the artists we were looking at to potentially sign and discussed their sound amongst the Virgin group as well as Capitol Music Group as a whole.  We also discussed the acts we currently have and what the next steps were for each of them.  Each week we go through the Top 40 songs to keep up to date with what sounds, artists, and producers are making the charts. This allows us to constantly know what people are listening to and who’s rising to the top.  In the marketing meetings I got to see how they coordinate show schedules, the artists’ pictures, looks, name, logos, meet and greets as well as any necessary promotional activity.  I never truly understood all that the marketing department did until I attended these meetings.

Top of Capitol Tower
Top of Capitol Tower

As with my first couple of weeks, I continued tracking our artists’ social media numbers as well as searching for talented new independent artists.  This entailed creating show lists of artists playing in the many venues in Los Angeles, scanning through various Pollstar, NME and Billboard magazines as well as attending some concerts in LA.  It is amazing how great an artist or band can sound online, but the minute you hear their songs live it can be a completely different story.  One band had one amazing song, yet the other six were all over the place, which showed us they weren’t ready to sign to a label at that point in their career.  Through my short time here at Virgin, my “ear” for music has already become much pickier.

Last week, the Virgin team and I got to attend an ASCAP writers workshop meeting where Ron was the guest speaker.  ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; a membership association of composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music.  They protect the rights of their members by licensing and distributing royalties for the performances of the artist’s copyrighted works. It was amazing to hear Ron’s stories of his journey in the music business and all the ups and downs he has encountered.  The 14 “up and coming” writers were absorbing everything he had to say in awe.  They then played their original songs for Ron and in return got some very constructive feedback that will dramatically improve their musical careers.

Corinne Bailey Rae and I
Corinne Bailey Rae and I

Although these past couple of weeks have been more of a learning experience within the office, there is always some excitement that takes place here at work.  I was lucky enough to spend some time with one of Virgin’s artists, Corinne Bailey Rae while she was recording in the studio on our floor.  It was also a big surprise when the whole day was spent prepping the room next to my desk for an interview, which I later realized was for Katy Perry (after she nonchalantly asked if I knew where the bathroom was located.  And yes, I gladly showed her!)

Katy Perry Interview room
Katy Perry Interview room

Although my boss, Ron Fair, has extremely limited time, I was persistent in creating a time in his calendar to show him a new artist I had worked with in the past.  I feel this artist has what it takes to make it big and become a true player on the Virgin Records roster and therefore I was determined to pitch it to him.  After the success of the first artist I had signed with Ron, he decided to make room in his schedule and take a listen.  As I had hoped, he saw the true talent and “star” that I had seen and I am very excited that this artist is coming in next week to meet with Ron and I.  This positive feedback just makes it even clearer that I was meant to do this.

My time here at Virgin has been an amazing experience and I know that this is still just the beginning. I have become very close with all my coworkers and love the environment we work in. I look forward to continuing my work here at Virgin and listening to some great music while I’m at it.

Natalie Edell is a senior RTVF major at Northwestern interning with Virgin Records this quarter.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Life at MTV

A few weeks have passed since my last update and a lot has developed during that time.

Based on prior internship experience, I expected to work on lots of small assignments throughout the quarter. My time at MTV has proven the exact opposite. Up until last Sunday, I spent most days working almost exclusively on an ongoing assignment for the 2013 Grammys awards. The assignment required that I create a notecard (aka “cheat sheets”) for every nominee, presenter, performer, and host. I scrounged up information on all sorts of information from previous nominations/wins to tour dates to personal life.

With a final tally of 100+ notecards, this work certainly felt tedious at time. It required hundreds (probably thousands) of Google searches and lots of hours staring at the computer screen. On the upside, I really enjoyed the stability of the assignment – coming into work every morning knowing I had to complete x, y and z. Plus, I loved the added bonus of seeing my hard work put to use on the red carpet.

Along with this work, I had the opportunity to assist the production team on two (very fun)  outside shoots. I spent one day on set of an MTV First with the band Paramore. I watched each stage of the process including set-up, rehearsal, tear down, and editing. Watch the final video above, and look out for my personal Twitter question!

I spent another day at the grand opening of Topshop Los Angeles, where MTV conducted a one-on-one interview with singer Demi Lovato.

Both of these cases demonstrate the network’s investment in their interns. MTV obviously has a strong and talented team of employees. My supervisors probably didn’t need me at either shoot, but invited me as a chance to enhance my own knowledge of the business. I absolutely believe that the more I observe, the more I will learn.

Mallory Ladenheim is a senior communication studies major at Northwestern and is currently interning at MTV News and Documentaries in Los Angeles.

The Job Search: Self-Reflection

So it just becomes a matter of getting a job.

I started my journey in Fall Quarter with a meeting with EPICS Director, Heather Trulock. I wanted to make sure that I was not completely missing out on job opportunities. She reassured me that entertainment jobs, unlike most other jobs, happen very quickly, without much warning.  It’s futile to apply to jobs in Fall Quarter, unless I’m prepared to leave school for Winter.

Fast-forward to Winter Quarter. For me, this quarter is all about getting ready for that job rush and application process. I’ve spent hours perfecting my resume and letting my friends look over it.  My resume got me my internship last winter because I sent it to the right person.  I figure my first job will happen in a similar way.

I’ve had a slight crisis over what I want to do with my life.  This has been exacerbated, if not caused, by graduation and the idea of the first job.  The “first job” has a stigma attached to it.  It seems like that job will define the rest of your life.  If you start an agency, you will end at an agency.  I still have this fear despite having it dispelled over and over again by people currently working in entertainment.  They say you find your path.  You follow where your passion is or where your skillset is or where the money is.  In a lot of ways, the first job is a jumping off point and if you absolutely NAIL IT, you will be recognized and promoted or referred.  Then people are asking for you, and not you for them. This idea still hasn’t entirely sunk in.  I would rather start working at somewhere like HBO than in a production company run out of someone’s garage.  So in the back of my head I’m still pressuring myself about the importance of my first job.

What is my Plan A/dream job? I want to end up on the creative side of the industry.  If I didn’t know about getting a job on the business side, I DEFINITELY don’t know about the creative side. While I’m not quite sure exactly where to start, my initial thought is to begin assembling a list of contacts that I’ve met or would like to meet.  It seems like a resume sent into a void is a resume lost.  So it would be nice if I could be recommended in the future. I’ve also been entertaining the idea of starting at a place that has a more regimented entry-level position, like the NBC page program and CAA’s agent assistant program.  I’m talking to my friends about them and whereas they do offer that reassurance of a job early on, none of them seem to be completely thrilled with their experiences.

So…it does FEEL like I’m stuck.  Like there’s a storm coming and I’m just waiting for it.  I have to keep telling myself that this is the time to get ready for that storm. So here I go, jumping in feet first. Wish me luck as I begin my journey!

Our blogger is a RTVF senior looking to move to LA and break into the Entertainment Industry post-graduation. This person has some experience in the industry, having held an internship and lived in LA earlier in their Northwestern career. Follow them as they share their story of their full-time job search.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Starting Out at MTV

My name is Mallory Ladenheim and I am a Communication Studies student at Northwestern. I am currently interning at MTV News and Documentaries in Los Angeles.

Let me start out by saying this: the last few weeks took me for a complete whirlwind. Just two days before returning to school for winter quarter, MTV called to offer me an internship in their news and documentaries department. I had applied for the position about one month prior, but honestly never expected anything to come of it. Fortunately, thanks to some very hardworking staff in the SoC office, I managed to work out a last-minute plan that allowed me to accept the internship offer.

I must also point out that I come from Los Angeles. This has obviously worked to my advantage, helping to avoid the added hassle of finding a place to stay and car to drive (because you certainly need one here).

So, now onto the fun stuff…

As a total pop-culture junkie, I couldn’t have envisioned a better place to work. The office always feels abuzz with talk of the latest TV series, movies, music, and award shows (tis the season). And of course, the work people do falls right in line. I want to share two of my early experiences to help paint a fuller picture of this.

Firstly, last week I was given the task of finding and downloading music videos from artists, songs, albums, and records nominated for a 2013 Grammy. I will eventually work alongside a producer to compile these clips into different segments that will air during the MTV News Grammy livestream. Secondly, I also had the opportunity to work on an interview with young singer/songwriter Camryn, who is opening for One Direction on their upcoming European tour. Producers had me actively take notes during the interview. They will eventually use these notes as a reference during the editing process.

As a student majoring in Communication Studies, I haven’t had the chance to practice film editing during my time at Northwestern. I’m now (slowly but surely) beginning to learn how while working at MTV, with the help of a very knowledgeable employee who has “taken me under his wing.” Final Cut Pro will definitely take some time to master, but I say better now than never! My advice: if you want to work in a business like this, learn how to edit now. I promise it will make your life easier in the long run.

After a fantastic first week, I look forward to the adventures that await me in the upcoming months. I expect to work hard but have while doing so. Maybe I’ll learn how to properly edit, too. Wait for me to keep you posted on that…

Adventures of an EPICS Intern in LA: The Los Angeles Plunge

Seeing as how this is my final blog post, I’ll try and put some words of wisdom on here, and if nothing else, you get to find out about my crazy experience in the Hollywood Hills.

It’s been a whirlwind three months, but I am nearing the end of my time in Los Angeles and, while I look back and wonder where the time went, I quite often see how much of a changed person I’ve become and how much experience can be garnered by spending a quarter somewhere different (be it study abroad or an internship). The EPICS program is, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I have made throughout college (maybe not quite on the same level as choosing to come to NU but probably more than discovering the miracle of Clarke’s on a taxing Friday night). More so than getting tangible experience in the field that you want, it’s an even better way of gaining confidence in your everyday life, as well as in your professional life. I am more confident in my skills, and feel like I have an effective way at “selling” myself in the ever-competitive world of the entertainment business.

What’s an even sillier proposition is how scared and intimidated I was by the prospect of moving out to LA for a quarter! Were there times when I wished I was back at NU (especially with the leaves, and the chill, and the lake)? Sure, but I realized that the program was an even bigger opportunity that, all things considered, did wonders for my professional and personal development. I’d be willing to wager that I am as pleased with my personal development as with my professional development, despite the fact that I am firmly entrenched and in love with the way that the entertainment business operates. I’ve learned how to run on three or four hours’ sleep; I’ve learned that refrigerated air, while comfortable, is actually really expensive; I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to go see a good movie, or eat frozen yogurt to melt the troubles away. It’s been an amazing experience and I’ve met very driven people, who are all genuinely interested in helping me grow and helping me learn the system and the way Hollywood operates; it’s very different from the way school operates!

If you want to get into Hollywood, then by all means do it! The trick for me was in asking myself whether I was ready to do it, and I’ve found that the aforementioned question usually is the most pressing barrier for people. It’s not whether that resume is ready, or whether you will end up finding somewhere (cheap!) to live, or even whether you will miss attending the Mag Mile Lights Parade (despite the fact that you’ve been there three years in a row). It really is a simple question of whether you are “ready” to do something different and make a choice that can shape the direction of your life and your career. Sure, it’s a scary thought, and I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve wondered whether life is moving by too quickly, or whether I’m doing “things” (in the abstract sense, sure) correctly. But, you’re lucky to have a great organization behind you, populated with fantastic people that I’ve found are insanely interested in helping you get an edge up in the “biz.” So, just do it!

When your life is flashing before your eyes, such as with the couple that I nearly ran off the edge of a cliff in the Hollywood Hills, make sure there’s something substantial and exciting, and maybe even a little bit dangerous in that vision.

As ever and ‘till we meet again.

Troy

RTVF ’13

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

EPICS Internship Program Info Session

Meet one-on-one with our LA & NY Internship Instructors to get advice on applying/interning in these markets. Appointments will be available on November 7th from 12-3 pm. Sign up via SoConnect. Email epics@northwestern.edu with any questions!

Instructions on how to sign up:

  • Sign up via the Jobs & Internships tab
  • Click on CSM Jobs
  • Enter key word EPICS and search, scroll down to find either NY or LA internship advising
  • Click on Apply for either LA or NY
  • Select one of the available times

On November 7th, you can also learn more about the School of Communication’s academic internship program directly from our internship instructors and past interns!