Experience in the Film Industry

This the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Janae Brooks, COL ’17

brooks-1For the past year, I’ve been going back and forth on whether I want to devote my time to the film industry or the video game industry. Last summer I had an internship with a startup that rekindled my love of writing and helped me feel the joy of bringing a creative, digital project to fruition (shout out to ARchimeral Inc!) and this summer I had the opportunity to work with the Motion Picture Corporation of America, a film production company that has produced classics like Dumb and Dumber and Taking Chance.

Louisa and I at the TCL Chinese Theater
Louisa and I at the TCL Chinese Theater

My time in this office has been one of the most informative experiences of my life concerning not only on how the industry works, but whether or not this industry is something that I want to delve into head first. I’ve done everything from covering scripts that ranged from amazing to could use a l o t of work to sitting in on calls between execs to contributing to meetings and providing my opinions on scripts to even being able to put together cast/directors lists; I’ve garnered a wide range of experience that has really helped me set realistic goals for myself and see a potential future with the steps to get there. What really stuck with me however, was the willingness of the permanent staff, including the CEO, to sit down with us and talk to us not only about our interests but about how they can help us get to where we need to be; we’ve had multiple conversations with different staff members throughout the summer and each one has provided invaluable information with a sense of humor and a grace that really helped us feel welcome and important.

My time here wouldn’t have been anything without my fellow interns; there’s nothing quite like being in a room full of people going through the exact same thing that you are and bonding over it. Whether it was about a script, cooking videos on YouTube, DC movies or just bouncing ideas off of each other for potential projects, I’ve laughed so hard and learned so much from people that are just as passionate as me and who care about the things that I care about. Being in an environment that was collaborative instead of competitive really helped solidify for me what this industry, or any industry, could be when you work with the right people.


When I wasn’t having my world rocked by all the stuff I was learning professionally, LA treated me really well. Between seeing movies every week, going to the beach whenever I wanted, eating some of the freshest food I’ve ever had, seeing Hollywood Blvd and just being in a state where it literally never rains, I’ve felt content in ways that I didn’t know were possible having grown up on the East Coast. I went into this summer not knowing for certain if I wanted to dedicate myself to film and in all honesty, I’m still not sure. But I can see a future here where before it was just a murky blur and I think getting some clarity, and some experience, was all I really wanted.

Art as a Didactic Tool

This the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Olivia Horn, COL ’17

horn3As an art history major and a devoted believer in the importance of art as a didactic tool, I have for the past several years had career aspirations within the field of museum education. Unfortunately, nonprofit arts internships are nearly always unpaid, so it was due in large part to the generous funding that Career Services provided to me that I was able to accept an offer for a summer internship at the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan.

Lyle (1999) by Chuck Close
Lyle (1999) by Chuck Close

For the duration of my two-month internship, I worked within the Interpretation and Research division of the Museum’s Education Department. Essentially, the Interpretation staff is responsible for producing materials that facilitate encounters between museum visitors and the artworks on view. Such materials can include descriptive wall labels that accompany complex or challenging pieces, audio guides, and videos highlighting specific artists or exhibitions.  My role as an intern was quite dynamic, and the type of work that I did varied greatly from day to day. Projects that I tackled over the course of the summer included compiling research on an exhibiting artist in order to develop questions for a video interview with her, coding and publishing didactic audio pieces on the Museum’s multimedia platform, and drafting wall texts for an upcoming exhibition. I also did a considerable amount of archival and research work related to the history of the Education Department, including working with a freelance oral historian who conducted interviews with key players in the early history of the Department, and drafting a narrative history of Access Programs – programming and other accommodations for individuals with disabilities – at the Museum.

Whitney Interns with Thelma Golden at the Studio Museum.

In addition to the work that we did for our individual departments, my intern class, which was made up of thirty-six undergraduate and graduate students, was invited to participate in weekly seminars with various museum professionals. Seminar speakers included Adam D. Weinberg, the Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney; Scott Rothkopf, the Museum’s Chief Curator and Director for Programs; and Thelma Golden, the Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, among others. All of the individuals who spoke with us talked about their own career trajectories and passion projects, and offered advice for anyone trying to break into the museum field. For me, one of the most notable things about the speakers who participated in the program was how well they all tempered enthusiasm for their work with real, pragmatic insight about the challenges that young museum professionals will inevitably face.

Overall, my Whitney internship taught me a great deal about the day-to-day responsibilities of museum professionals, and I also became much more familiar with the inner workings of the art world at large. I feel that, going into senior year, I will be able to approach my course work with vigor and enthusiasm, as I now have a better sense of how my academic pursuits relate to my professional pursuits.


This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Danielle Moore, COL ’18

moore1When I arrived at the West Los Angeles offices of Variety – whose iconic red sign is clearly visible from the perpetually traffic-jammed highway below – I was excited but unsure of what to expect. Ushered up to the 9th floor of the Penske Media Corporation, the parent company of Variety owned by Penn alum Jay Penske, I was giddy to find on the lobby coffee table the full portfolio of the company’s bespoke print publications – including not only the weekly print edition of Variety, but also fashion industry mainstays like Women’s Wear Daily and Beauty, Inc. So you can imagine my glee when, later that morning, my boss led me to a rack of Variety issues and told me to “feel free” to take copies whenever I pleased.


The magazines, though, were far from the only perk of the job – and also far from the coolest part of the offices. The fifth floor boasts a turquoise mural painted by famed L.A. street artist Banksy, featuring – quite appropriately – a slew of legendary movie quotes. Framed black-and-white photographs of stars featured in Variety dot the entirety of the 9-story office building. I certainly couldn’t complain about my seat on the top floor of the building, next to the editors of movie news site Deadline, and across from a portrait of Kate Winslet and a candid of Samuel L. Jackson and Quentin Tarantino. Celebrities in the office though, were not merely in photo form; Tom Hiddleston and Seth Rogen were among the stars who visited the office to promote projects while I was there!


My very first weekend on the job, I was given the opportunity to cover EditFest LA, the American Cinema Editor’s annual conference, held on the Walt Disney Studios Lot – whose backstage location alone provided this lifetime Disney devotee an unprecedented thrill. An even bigger thrill was being introduced to Kevin Tent, the editor of the acclaimed films of director Alexander Payne, including Nebraska and The Descendants. Additionally, since I interned during the height of Emmy campaign season, I also had the opportunity to cover an event for FX’s American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson, featuring Lead Actress nominee Sarah Paulson, former prosecutor Marcia Clark, and Executive Producer Ryan Murphy.


In addition to gaining experience in industry event coverage, I was also tasked with contributing to the marketing campaigns for one of Variety’s recently acquired and re-branded properties, Variety 411. I drafted eblasts for subscribers, wrote advertising copy, researched film festival partnerships, and commandeered several social media channels. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to complete these diverse tasks, as they allowed me to participate in nearly all essential facets of a digital and print entertainment media publisher in today’s market. I am incredibly grateful for this experience, as it not only afforded me the opportunity to contribute to a cornerstone company in entertainment, but also cemented my interest in working in media that focuses on the creative and systematic creation of art in the entertainment industry.

Day in the Life: Project Manager for Urban Arts & Entertainment District

Missed Rebecca Chan’s live tweets on @PennCareerDay? You can read her archived tweet feed on Storify.

We’re excited for our upcoming PennDesign Career Connection Day on March 23rd for *PennDesign students only* in architecture, fine arts, landscape architecture, planning and preservation.  If you’re interested in these paths, but can’t attend the event – follow @PennCareerDay on Twitter on Thursday, March 22nd.  Rebecca Chan will discuss how she combined her passion for historic preservation and creative industries. Read about Rebecca’s background below and remember to follow her on the 22nd!

Rebecca Chan graduated from Penn Design in 2011 with a degree in Historic Preservation.  While at Penn, Rebecca augmented her preservation studies by completing coursework in community economic development and public policy. After researching and writing her graduate thesis on the relationship between the creative industries and historic preservation, Rebecca was brought on as a project manager for Station North Arts & Entertainment District in Baltimore, Maryland.

Currently, Rebecca is coordinating the first National Symposium on Arts/Cultural/Entertainment Districts to be held April 4-5th in Baltimore Maryland, as well as one of the largest street art festivals in the country, Open Walls Baltimore, which kicked off March 6th and will run through the end of May.