hindsight: an ECLA alumn talks pros, cons

by Beacon Staff • March 17, 2011

I began to think about the Los Angeles Program during my junior year. As a film production major, LA always seemed like the endpoint, but as I approached my senior year it became less ethereal. There were applications to fill out, housing to negotiate and worst of all internships to find.

Dozens of resumes and cover letters were sent out, follwed interviews with Panavision, New Regency, and FilmNation Entertainment, followed by an interminable amount of waiting. Three weeks. Of waiting.

During those never-ending three weeks, I occupied my time by getting aquatinted with my new surroundings in LA, that is once I finally left the Oakwoods. The Oakwoods, the apartments where LA program students live, is almost like it’s own little town in itself- a convenience store, pool, and post office are located within the complex. It’s easy to get trapped inside. In any case, I made it a point to leave home base and explore once I got a car.

Anyway, it wasn’t until the night before the program deadline when I received a phone call from FilmNation Entertainment. I got the gig.

I have since learned that everyone gets an internship and the deadline to get one is not nearly as definite as one might think. It may not be your dream job—or even back-up—but everyone gets one. I just wish that had been written in the packet of papers I was handed at orientation.

FilmNation Entertainment is a rather new production company that develops scripts and takes them into production. The president of production, Aaron Ryder put it to me like this: “We make films that are better than most for cheaper than most.”

I read a lot of scripts and wrote a lot of coverage, a process that helps the executives make decisions on which projects are worth taking a look at.

But, I’ll be honest, I also picked up groceries, washed dishes, delivered packages across town, and picked up lunch when the executives ordered it. Luckily, Ryder is an Emerson alumnus and doesn’t like to watch interns rot. I remember him calling me out of the back room where I was working and handing me a new script.

“I want you to read this and think of actors to play the role of John,” he said. “Guy Pearce just dropped out.”

After that, I was asked to do all kinds of tasks, from scene breakdowns to sitting in on script pitches. I learned the development process, which is a useful operation for a screenwriter to bear witness to. I also developed good relationships with executives, particularly the vice president of production, Beatrice.

LA had always been my destination after Emerson but I had no idea what that would entail. Going through the program I learned one very important thing: I could survive Los Angeles. Even when the job I had lined up post-grad fell through, I still boarded the plane to head west after walking across the stage at the Majestic in my cap and gown. That’s the kind of confidence I never had before

Now I’m a permanent LA resident. I have my own apartment and job. In my spare time I am writing a web series (about wizards) with another Emersonian, Alex Salem. I haven’t made my way into the industry yet, but I was able to email Beatrice. I’ve just pitched her a script and she asked to read it. So, hey, that’s a start.

 

-Pierce O’Tool is a former  Beacon contributer, is an Emerson Alumnus who moved to Los Angeles after his time in the L.A. Program