Employer Spotlight: The Araca Project

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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, A View from the Bridge, Lend Me a Tenor, Catch Me If You Can. As merchandisers, we have worked with Elf! The Musical, The Book of Mormon, Once, Shrek: The Musical.

We are Danny Bateman and Phil Blechman, the executive producers of The Araca Project. We guide the teams selected in The Project, coordinate the training intensive with industry professionals which we humbly call “boot camp”, and aspire to inspire the entrepreneur in you.

The Araca Project is an opportunity for emerging artists to foster their entrepreneurial spirit and produce their own work in an Off-Broadway Theater this fall. Our goal is to give recent graduates the tools and knowledge they need to mount a show in New York City. We believe in The Project so much that we were participants the last two years and collectively have produced, directed, written, and acted within The Project. This is our first year producing The Project as a whole and are looking for new participants that are eager, passionate, articulate, creative, and fun.

Selected participants will attend the “boot camp” in midtown Manhattan June 23rd – June 27th where they will meet with leaders in commercial Off-Broadway casting, producing, ticketing, 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; maintaining a box office/ticketing system, and everything in between.

Applications for 2014 slots are currently available at www.aracaproject.com. Project pitches will be held in New York City on April 14th. Selected teams will have a run at The American Theatre of Actors during the fall of 2014.  Please email The Araca Project, check-out our website, and/or email EPICS Director Heather Trulock for more information.

The Internship Search: Making the Most of an Internship

Maybe that time has come, you have an internship, you have your housing in place, your schedule in writing, your start date finalized.  Now, it’s the beginning of summer, and you may feel like you’re waiting at the bottom of a thousand story hotel, with a mile long train of elevators, and crowds of other students waiting to be noticed. How do you make the most out of this opportunity? I can’t speak from my own experience, so I asked a friend who graduated —and was an avid interner while in school—what he thought made for the best internship experience. He gave me three practical points to intern by:

First, find the right internship (this may have better served us several months ago) but it’s too true to ignore.  There’s a lot of advice out there that says, work hard, go above and beyond, find a way to stand out, be positive at work. This is decent advice, however, the key to all of this is not to struggle through every day, forcing yourself to go above and beyond and plastering on a smile, but to make sure that you are working in the right place. If you and your internship are the right fit, then naturally you will fall into all the above categories. Of course, internships are also an opportunity to explore a certain aspect of the job force and see if it is right for you. And not all employers are created equal. So if you find yourself in an industry, or at a company, that isn’t a good fit, take comfort knowing that you’re one step closer to discovering what you want you do want to do.  Instead of trying to force yourself to love something that isn’t right for you, look for that aspect of the job that you do enjoy, do the best you can, and think about how those aspects could be translated into a career.

Second, always bring something to write with and write on. Then write everything down. Everyone forgets things, and it’s great to have a place where you can reference names, assignments, experiences. If you write everything down, you will never be the employee with nothing to do. You will always be one step ahead. When you finish one project you will be on to the next. Even better, you will become indispensable, because you will be the one who remembers things other people, even your employer, forget. One of the most crucial aspects of an internship is to become a resource, not just a fixture, at a company. (Plus all of those notes will come in handy if you ever find yourself writing a blog for a university internship and career website.)

Third, make friends. This is not to be confused with networking, or networking’s ugly cousin called schmoozing. This isn’t a quick meet situation; you have months ahead at these internships, so really get to know the people you work with.  They’re not only the people who will help you find a job after graduation; they are the people who know the best places to live in the new city you’re moving too; they are the people who will make your job enjoyable through the rough or boring parts; they are the people who you’ll start spending time with after work.  Like finding the correct internship, making friends does all the work of networking and so much more.

These are some of the best pieces of advice I have gathered through my own search, but I’m sure there are plenty of others out there. Let’s keep our eyes open and ears out for advice, mentors, and opportunities, so that we can all continue learning through the summer. Happy interning.

Our blogger is a Junior RTVF and Weinberg student looking for an internship in New York City for this summer. Follow them as they share their story of an internship search.

The Internship Search: Getting the Internship!

It might come after tens of applications or one, as an email or a phone call but eventually, if you keep trying, everyone lands and internship, and with some luck it’s the one you really wanted.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of support and guidance through the application and interviewing process, and I’m happy to say that a few weeks ago I got a job at my top choice agency. If you’re in this situation take a minute to congratulate yourself, check something off your to do list, de-stress a little. If you’re not don’t worry there’s plenty of time to keep applying, interviewing, and if you’ve done those things, who knows, your letter might be on its way as we speak.

The process certainly doesn’t end with getting the internship, though.  There are still apartments to sublet, rooms to rent, and dates to confirm.  Some great sources are WildCatPads and The School of Communication’s housing information for Oakwood, if you plan on living in Los Angeles. If you need financial assistance for your internship there are SoC scholarships you can apply to through the School of Communication website as well.  They are need based and contingent on having a secured and relevant position in your area of job interest.

This is the time to begin considering start and end dates.  In the case of larger companies these dates may have already been decided, but it seems most employers are flexible, especially considering our late end date. I am currently in scheduling limbo, as I wait for my housing application to be processed, but that’s the reality of moving to a new city for three months to work full or part time. Sometimes the logistics of setting yourself up in a new place can be almost as daunting as getting the internship in the first place, so start early. Hopefully you know all of this already, but now’s the time to confirm how many hours you are expected to work.  How many days you are expected you to come in? I have seen internships that range anywhere from a few hours, one a week for a month, to full time for the entire summer/quarter.  This can be important when you begin to consider the monetary burden of living in a new city.  Most intern style living is not the most economical, but it is hassle free.  You can also go the independent rout and find an apartment to lease or sublet yourself.  You may find less expensive options this way, but you also take on more risk, and there will be more work involved. If you have friends or family to stay with room and board free, then you will be the envy of all the other summer interns.

If you’re like me, and your position isn’t paid, then there is also the question of getting a part time job while working away from home and school. I’m looking into lifeguarding jobs, which is a convenient special skill to have, particularly in the summer. But when looking for jobs consider the areas in which you have experience. Where did you work in high school? What seasonal jobs are available where you’re moving? Once again if your internship is paid I am quite envious.

Through all these logistics though remember that you are in the pursuit of a future career.  Internships are paramount to a well-rounded educational experience, and it will be worth it in the end.

Our blogger is a Junior RTVF and Weinberg student looking for an internship in New York City for this summer. Follow them as they share their story of an internship search.

Adventures of an EPICS Intern in NYC: 30 ROCK: That’s a Wrap!

By: Demetrios Cokinos

The final weeks of 30 ROCK were ones to remember: we had our final wrap party, I was given the chance to interview Tracey Wigfield, co-writer of the series finale with Tina Fey, and even see Alec Baldwin shoot his final shot of the series.  But for my final blog post, I would rather narrow the focus of my experience to my favorite moment of my substantive yet short tenure at 30 ROCK.

On Wednesday, December 19th, for the very first time, the 30 ROCK production offices were empty.  From accounting to locations to props, everyone stood downstairs huddled together in a small studio space anxiously waiting to see Tina Fey complete her final shot of the series.  Ali (my fellow office PA) and I realized that the crew was nearing the shot, so we finished our work and ran down to get a good spot.

I had never seen the set more crowded.  Ali and I tried to find a spot in the back of the studio where we could see the take at least from the monitors.  Though, being in the back of a crowd of 30 people trying to huddle around a 10 inch monitor did not lead to anything exciting.  So Ali and I walked around to the other side of the set, trying to get a better view.  We were stopped by the stage door and told to stay there.  What we soon realized is that Tina Fey would be performing right in front of us.

We were watching Tina Fey’s stand in pose for the final shot – the lighting had to be perfect.  “Last looks!,” yells the Key PA from the other side of the stage.  The make-up artists and set decorators take one final scan of the stage and scurry off to the monitors.  Tina’s stand in stepped down as Tina Fey walked in.  Tina raised her stand-in’s arm and said, “Everyone give a round of applause for Laura Barios! She’s wrapped!” They hugged and then Tina took her place.  Ali and I laughed quietly as we watched Tina rehearse the scene.  Tina seems to find it hilarious when the large make-up crew comes to touch her up before the real take.  We could see Tina making funny faces at us through the number of arms around her face.

Then the stage cleared, three bells overhead rung, and the camera began recording.  I cannot go into any more detail really or I’ll spoil the joke; but I’ll say that both the crew and I were trying hard to hold back our laughs.  Tina’s final shot ended her enormously, successful, critically acclaimed and award – winning seven year run so beautifully.  And with the final, “cut – check the gate,” her moment was complete.  30 ROCK wrapped Liz Lemon and Tina Fey.

Tina rushed up to the top of the stage amongst the thunderous applause to deliver her final words to her hard working crew.  Tina is just naturally funny, so of course with her first three words she had the whole floor roaring with laugher.  She talked about her past, saying that she finally realized her dream by creating her own television show.  There was an extreme sense of modesty in her words, though, and she thanked every single member of her crew for putting up with the absurd antics of the show – like when out of no where, the script calls for a monkey to walk around with Tracy.

Tina’s words radiated this inspiration to the rest of the crew, allowing them to know that even though 30 ROCK is over, their lives will move to bigger and better places, maybe one day reuniting for another show.  In my opinion, Tina represents the best example of hard work: she attended UVA, followed it by taking comedy classes at the renowned Second City, all the way up to working on SNL and creating her own sitcom.  I look up to Tina Fey because she never gave up when she knew it would take hard work to get where she is today.  And look at her!  She has achieved everything she could ever have dreamed for.

And as her speech neared its end, I realized again what an unbelievable opportunity I had being at 30 ROCK. Everyday I was there, I would need to take a step back to be sure that I wasn’t hallucinating.  It was a crazy ride for sure – from the simple things like, getting the scripts ready for the current day to the absurd, like Hurricane Sandy with no electricity or water, running out for Tracy Morgan to buy $500 worth of White Castle burgers as a gift to the crew, getting a taco truck paid for by Alec Baldwin, borrowing costumes from SNL – but I loved every wild moment of my sneak peak insider view of television’s finest comedy.  My own personal dream is that one day I will be moving towards a Tina Fey-like position, giving parting words after something I love and create comes to an end. And for now I am happy to back at Northwestern, after being in the working world for five months, I am excited to be a student again. But also always looking forward…perhaps back to NYC if I am again so fortunate!

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 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

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!