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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Lindsay Harrop at 4:45PM

Blog posting written by Lindsay Harrop, Cinema & Photography '13, FLEFF Intern, McMinnville, Oregon

Here we are in Williams 225 with the "How to Get Your Break" Panel. Moderated by IC's Steve Gordon, we have Rodrigo Bellott (casting director of Even the Rain), Rodrigo Brandao (Kino Lorber), Karin Chien (founder and president of dGenerate Films) and Tina Mabry (writer/director of Mississippi Damned). Here's a snapshot of the great discussion we have going here:

SG: How'd you get your start?
KC: Working for free on a film. I come from a very traditional Asian-American family. I didn't know anyone in film or music and I moved to NY to get into independent film. There's a listing (a tech list) put out by the Mayor's Office that lists every production in New York. I sent out my resume every day for a month and the first person who hired me, I worked my way up from taking the trash.
TM: I didn't have any film background till I went to USC. My last semester I saw "Boys Don't Cry" and it changed my life so instead of going to law school and wracking up debt I decided to do what I love and wrack up debt and applied to the grad school. My third year I saw Jamie Bambitt was looking for a writer and I tried for it and ended up getting the job.
RBe: I have two simultaneous careers. I shot "Sexual Dependency" as a senior at IC with my friends here. Took me three years after graduation to get it finished, during which I was interning at Good Machine before it turned into Focus Features and folding clothes at Club Monoco which is probably the best job I ever had cause it taught me to be a people person. "S.D." ended up taking on a life of its own and winning lots of awards so that helped. Really the trick is hard work, focus, persistence.
RBr: I also took the internship approach. I started in Ithaca at a theater so I helped them with restoration art history and setting up film projection. After that I started one immediately at Sony Classics in NY for nine months. It's so important to do everything and learn how hard everything is. The support jobs, answering phones, everything. It was a fast learning curve. Having a lot of internships on my resume helped me get the jobs that I wanted. It's hard work. It's not pretty all the time, but you got to keep going.

SG: What do you think the "key ingredient" for getting a job and moving up is?
KC: For moving up, something between focus and determination. The truth is, the people who make it to the top in this industry may not be the nicest or even the most talented, they are the most determined. There are no rules. Your career is what you make it.
RBe: I want to comment on the determination. Biggest tip as an intern: Don't take an easy way out. Every time a celebrity came in, all the interns would run to get them coffee and stuff but I would be photocopying. Now I know all the details of legal infrastructure and all the deals made during that time. THAT'S determination and focus.
RBr: There's no set path. You need to find your niche. You need to have other sets of skills. Speak foreign languages, know programs, have business skills, that'll be the differential in the market. You need the knowledge of how you'll be used in the market, and also be building your own skills. Focus and determination are important, but that the end of the day it also comes down to what's on paper and what you can do. That's what companies want. What are you bringing to the table?

SG: What does networking mean? How do you make it work?
RBe: There's some confusion about that. Biggest secret: Don't ask for favors. MAKE favors. Your best asset is to know that people owe you favors.
TM: You can't just go into a room and start handing out business cards to everyone you meet. For me, it's about the actual relationships with people. That's what helped get our film made. Developing friendships and professional work at all times.
KC: When I first started working, my nature is very quiet and shy, and I didn't start networking till I was a producer. Leading up to that I just worked. Every single job I had, I worked my ass off. Everything I was asked to do I did, and then more. Just trying to learn as much as I could. That's all I did for a year and a half. Now, as a producer, networking is part of my job. When you're first starting out, networking is much less important than working hard.

We're still going strong and I'll post some when we're done!


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