As a film major, you will be involved in theatre, peer interactions and shared learning experiences to strengthen your skills. But, it’s equally important for you to apply and develop academic concepts in professional settings. Internships are the best way to achieve that.
An internship will help you with character growth and career development, as well as open doors for future career opportunities. While working as an intern for a film production, you might develop an idea for your own feature film or a short live-action film.
What Are Your Options?
You could intern for a web series, short films, feature-length films, TV shows, or for news networks. These internships can give you a lot of experience in the film industry, and you will likely be doing a variety of tasks. This will help you diversify your work experience.
You can find opportunities here to set the stage and lighting, take notes from the director, and guide extras to their respective roles. You could get behind the scenes and learn how to edit raw footage using professional editing software. You can also learn to provide sound editing and design in the post-production of a film.
You can work as an assistant to the scriptwriter, gaffer, production designer, cinematographer or sound engineer. As an assistant, you can help by securing permission for filming at certain public locations or by arranging or purchasing film props, costumes and equipment essential for the film project.
Here is a list of popular film internship programs in the U.S.:
Understand the Nuances of Student Visas for Internships in the U.S.
For F1 visa holders
If you’re studying in the U.S. with an F1 visa, then you can easily take part in an internship without going through a great deal of paperwork. However, there are limitations on when and how many hours you can work. As an F1 visa holder, you’re allowed to work for 20 hours per week during semesters. This means that you could opt for a part-time internship.
You can work for 40 hours a week during the summer break, allowing you to get a full-time internship.
As you would be working off-campus to finish your film internship, you need to choose between two options: Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT).
To apply for a CPT internship, you need to have completed the first year at your university. After authorization, you’ll receive permission in the form of an updated I-20 form, and then you can begin your internship.
If you’re looking to pursue a full-time internship, go for OPT. OPT is the best option for students who aren’t primarily studying filmmaking, yet have the desire to pursue an internship in it. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves OPT internships, so the process could be a bit more difficult than that of CPT internships.
For J1 visa holders
If you’re studying in the U.S. with a J1 visa, you can take part in internships for up to 18 months. It’s similar to OPT internships on an F1 visa, as you can apply for them during or after completing your academic program.
To apply for an internship with a J1 visa, you must receive written approval from the responsible J1 officer.
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Application Process for Film Internships
Applying for a film internship is similar to applying for a job. You’ll need to prepare an extensive resume and cover letter for the internship you’re aspiring to work on. Most of the application processes can be accessed online. If you’re selected, you should expect to give an in-person interview for the further selection process.
You might be called a few more times for additional interviews if the competition is fierce and your employer wants to narrow down the list of candidates.
- Work on your interview skills
- Learn to write an impressive resume and cover letter
- Make sure you remain confident in answering any question that’s asked of you at the time of the interview.
- The most probable questions you could be asked are: How do you think you’ll contribute best in the various stages of film production? And: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Tips for Your Film Internship
Seek guidance from your professors. You never know whom they know in the film industry. Their connections and tips might help you land the best internship.
Don’t limit yourself to just film production. You can seek internship opportunities for television production and news networks as well.
You can even get an internship at film festivals. It could be at a local film festival, or a prestigious one like Sundance. Here, you’ll get an opportunity to work under independent filmmakers and gain insights on making films with a low budget.
Don’t back out of an internship because of the pay. Some of the internships may be unpaid, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to turn them down. Even when you don’t earn anything in monetary terms, you’ll be getting exposure to valuable experiences. In the end, you’ll have something to add to your resume.
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