I spent my internship program at Original Media, LLC. It is an independent production firm that specializes in creating unique TV series and films. Over the years, it has successfully built a strong reputation with regards to the quality production of reality TV series and original feature films with cutting-edge content. For TV broadcasts, Original Media, LLC came up with Miami Ink, LA Ink, Skate Maps, Crusty’s Dirt Demons, Storm Chasers, and the Rachel Zoe Project.
Original Media also prides itself with feature films such as The Squid and the Whale, Half Nelson, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, The Living Wake, and August. All of which were nominated for various awards, including the Spirit Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Academy Awards. Apart from film and TV content, Original Media has also produced the series Live for VH1. com and Discover and Download for MTV as broadband content. The company was founded in 2002 by Charlie Corwin and Clara Markowicz.
Over the years, Crowin became a much celebrated producer who has earned several awards for his work. Five years after it was formed, the production company became a subsidiary for Endemol USA, Inc. Endemol now owns more than half of the company and it has also enhanced Originals Media’s position in the production and marketing of its reality shows. Working as an intern in a highly inventive and eclectic production company provided me with the opportunity to discover the production business both from the administrative and creative aspects.
Within two months, I have gained relevant experience in the development and production process. I also attended events and meetings with Charlie Corwin. This internship report discusses my internship experience in detail, as well as the lessons that I have learned. My job as an intern basically entailed a variety of functions. To a certain extent, I acted as a production assistant who was pretty much involved in almost every aspect of the company’s production processes. To begin with, I was involved in production planning and budgeting.
I attended initial briefing meetings with the important personnel involved in the production of the Original Media’s TV programs, particularly with the Rachel Zoe Project. Basically, the director had to review scripts, pick casts, and more. Every aspect of the production process almost always required the approval of the director – from the location to the visual components. However, in any pre-production phase, I noticed that the director was not the only one that significantly mattered. Rather, the casting director, the manager, and the producer also took important roles.
To lessen costs which seemed to be a key issue with independent production outfits, the technique was to get a great set of crew department leaders and a great line producer. Although creativity and inventiveness is always encouraged, a reliable production company should be able to work within the confines of a defined preliminary budget. Since Original Media’s productions are not talk shows which required studio settings, the crew always had to adapt to the varying locations for the shoots.
Choosing a location can be difficult as most of the independent company’s products had to look original and “real life” while at the same time, interesting and very conducive for shootings. Apart from choosing the location, preparing the budget proposal for the production process is also quite difficult. Making the long list of expenses is one of the most tiring and boring production tasks. The budget should involve the director’s fees, production house mark-up, and the insurance. It should also have a crew list with the calculations for their fees depending on the actual shooting days.
The rest of the list includes the pre-production and wrap materials and expenses, auto rentals and air fares, per diems, fees for location scouting, trucking, parking tolls and gas, casting and working meals. There are also fees for permits, camper rentals for use as dressing rooms on locations, tolls and gas, hotel costs, per diems, and prop and wardrobe expenditures. In essence, the budget proposal could give one a good idea of the overall process of the production project. As the production assistant, I also assisted the accountant and the production manager with the production financing process and deal-making.
Apart from completing the list of expenses, I also had to verify the costs and expenses in it and this entailed heavy paper work. I had to check the previous receipts and I also had to contact the suppliers of the production needs so as to confirm actual costs. Working with the other crew members, we had to make sure that the materials that we get are always high in quality but definitely reasonably priced. I also had to assist the manager. I set appointments with the customers and clients when deals and proposals were made. Regular meetings with Endemol were also especially necessary.
With so many things to do at the pre production phase, it seemed as if it was the most complex part of the media production process, especially for a newbie in the industry. The most exciting part of this phase is forging deals and getting satisfaction from the fact that your company actually has some big time clients who are ready to distribute what you produce. In my experience, I have worked with the key people involved in the production process – the producers, directors, managers, and writers. Among them, those who had the most defined role were the writers.
They develop the script for each TV show and they only work during the pre-production phase most of the time. Although they are required to resolve some line or presentation complexities which pose problems for production, such rarely happens. However, no matter how minimal their roles seem to be, it is very important to realize that good writers are the essential people behind the creation of innovative and high-quality films under strict budgetary considerations. One of the tasks that was often assigned to me was to read the writer’s furnished scripts and write a report on them.
As I have noted before, the line producer is also another production personnel who is of great importance, especially with regards to production budgetary constraints. If one has to be a line producer, he should exhibit extensive organizational skills, reliable communication abilities, splendid management skills, and lots of established “contacts” among media production suppliers. Since the management of the production logistics rest upon his shoulders, the line producer must typically have lots of experience in production. I have also worked with directors, though not directly.
Technically, while the line producer is in charge of the technical aspects of the production, the director serves as the key person in charge of the creative delivery of the project. I have learned that the director is always expected to create a clear vision of what the production product should be. Every crew member depends on him for directions and guidance. Apart from telling people what they should do, the director must also be aware of what each of the production crew member is doing during the shoots. He should be attentive even to the smallest-of-details which can be seen and heard on the output.
Despite of the complex tasks that he ought to perform with his utmost attention, the director must always be calm. Technically, if the director starts to panic and he looses his vision for the project, that’s the end of the production. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to observe actual shoots. I also had to transcribe the director’s interviews to characters of reality shows so he can make his cut. Apart from the creative and technical people behind the production process, I also worked with the executive producer. I have learned that all projects begin and end with the executive producer.
He is the one responsible for initiating the project and then, he also deals with the networks who will distribute it. I had the opportunity to attend several client meetings with Charlie Corwin. I was able to browse several project contracts and even reviewed them when necessary for renewal, monitoring, and updating purposes. Apart from observing shoots and playing the role of an assistant to almost every key production member, I was also given pertinent roles with regards to the distribution of the projects. I was the one who contacted networks and set appointments for Charlie Corwin.
Also, I was often in charge of the easy but delicate and important task of sending the finished production products to the waiting clients. Another specific role that I had was to order equipments for shows which were to be shot in New York City. The director always gave specific instructions as to what type of equipment was needed for the production. Thus, the hard part was to find the facilities which meet the director’s and producer’s qualifications. Keen attention to detail was quite necessary and at times, resourcefulness was crucial each time I cannot find what the production team demands.
In the distribution phase, I also learned that taking film projects to festivals are especially crucial for independent production companies which are not equipped with the extensive marketing and distribution channels that mainstream movie production studios have. The use of sales agents in order to market the films or TV projects to distributors was also necessary. Sales agents act as the buffers between distributors and producers, who relieve the producers of the awful experience of not getting an offer.
During my internship, I was also tasked with conducting research and reviews for Original Media’s shows like the Rachel Zoe Project and Crusty’s Dirty Demons. Basically, the major questions I had to deal with were the following: Do these projects really sell? Do people watch the series and to what extent are they watching these shows? What possible improvements can be made with the flow of the shows? Are the suggested improvements feasible? It was as if I was making one of the course requirement’s paper work.
The first two questions were answerable through the formal surveys and reviews while the last two entailed consultations with other members of the production crew such as the writers and producers. Apart from the study, I was also asked to conduct research for a new reality show. When I attended episode shoots for the Rachel Zoe and a music show for the VH1 broadband content, I was able more technical factors that were involved in media production. In particular, I was able to determine where cameras must be placed and when cuts must be made for live-on-tape productions.
In such cases, the camera man and the sound recordist should be especially careful in order to make the shots as attractive and the sounds as audible as possible despite the fact that the crew can only re-arrange the settings at a minimal rate. In episode shoots that were on location and arranged, I had to help ensure that the shoots will go as smoothly as possible. Along with the other production assistants, I had to make sure that every facility and person necessary for the shoot was ready and available anytime they were needed.
In case any of the expected actors and extras was absent or unavailable, it was my job to find a replacement. I also had to take care of the licenses, release forms and other documents which will give the company the permission to use the footage as required by the client. In all of my endeavors in Original Media, I have been exposed to almost all aspects of production – technical, creative, and distribution, I have learned that the most crucial factors in the media production industry were time, creativity, budget, and organization.
Through my internship at Original Media, LLC, I was able to enhance my creative and technical skills. Specifically, I learned how to effectively coordinate projects and I have also improved my organization skills through the shoots and the tasks which were assigned to me. Through research and observation of the writers, directors and producers, I have learned how to formulate, present, and implement ideas in a clear and logical manner.
Furthermore, I also realized that being in a media production company requires one to engage in multi-tasking. It is not enough to be knowledgeable in only one part of the production process for the roles and responsibilities in media production are not clearly defined. Most of them overlap in the sense that everything is correlated and dependent on the other roles. If you want to come up with a fruitful production product, you should ensure that your entire crew realizes the fact that media production is a labor-intensive enterprise.