Confessions of an Intern - Hannah Lindner works on "The Place Beyond the Pines"
In the early summer of 2011 I was unemployed, unmotivated and completely undecided about what I was going to do with my life. I had just finished my sophomore year here at Hofstra, and though I had learned a lot so far, I had not yet determined what I was supposed to do with a film production degree. I was starting to think I had made a mistake going to film school. Sure I loved filmmaking and I enjoyed learning about them in my classes, but to then take what I learned and somehow find a way into the insane industry that is Hollywood, well the whole thing just seemed so...improbable. And that’s exactly the summer of 2011 was for me…highly, highly improbable. Yet, it really did happen. Trust me I’ve pinched myself enough times to be sure of it.
It began at a summer party when one our family friends mentioned that a film was shooting in Schenectady in the coming months. Naturally I inquired further, so she showed me the local newspaper article. It didn’t contain many details, but it did have a contact at the bottom for the local film commission. After recovering from the shock that Schenectady (a run-down town twenty minutes outside of Albany) had a film commission, I e-mailed the contact. From there my application for an internship was forwarded to the film production coordinator. Two weeks later I was sitting in the production office for an interview. A few weeks after that I began working in the office during pre-production.
I found out that the film was called “The Place Beyond the Pines." It was being directed by Derek Cianfrance and it had an amazing cast of Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendez, Ray Liotta and Rose Byrne. I was beyond stoked and I was learning so much. In the office I helped with scripts, crafty, production meetings and various prep for shooting. By the time day one came around I was itching to get out of the office and into production.
The first day we shot at an old motel. It was 90 degrees with scattered downpours. I was completely soaked and exhausted when I finally returned home from my 12 hour day, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. (Of course let’s be honest any time you spend the day looking at a shirtless, tattooed Ryan Gosling walk around is a good day). I worked on set for four weeks before having to return to school. I did a lot of crowd management. It isn’t every day that famous people hangout in upstate New York, so there was a lot of people to keep out of shot. I also worked with the art department, the teamsters, craft services and all the other PA’s. It was my job to get out times and time cards at the end of the day. At first I found it tedious, but it was a great way to meet the entire crew.
By the end of my time with the film I had learned a lot about the film industry: how to act professional on set, who I can be candid with and who I should be more reserved with, how to take initiative, be confident, collected in high stress situations and so on. On my last day we shot at the Altamont fair. I got to shadow the director as we shot in at a live fair littered with challenges. The tent flooded, shots were ruined by fans, and the director of photography got hit in the head with a motorcycle (yes it was exactly as bad as it sounds). Still, it was the single best experience I ever had. Luckily my last day was also Ryan Gosling’s last day. There were speeches, crew T-shirts, pictures and of course free drinks. It was quite the way to end my internship.
I did my best to network with the crew. Immediately following I friended everyone I knew on Facebook. It paid off because I remained in touch with most people until the release party 18 months later. This past Tuesday I attended the Cast and Crew screening in NYC. It was amazing to see how the everyday grind can turn in to something so beautiful and powerful. I am so proud to have worked on this particular film. Not only was the film good, but there was a complete comradery among the crew. My name was in the credits and everyone from the other interns to the director gave me a hug and a “thank you” at the after party. I even got a few job opportunities after graduation. Looking back it was all so unlikely. The odds of an Oscar-nominated director shooting a feature film in your hometown may be slim, but it’s certainly possible. However, there are a lot of film majors in the Albany/Schenectady area who didn’t reach out to the man in the newspaper. It would be a mistake to call unlikeliness a complete impossibility. Opportunities are out there, whether they are in your backyard or a thousand miles away, they are out there. I know what I want to do after graduation and I am closer to achieving it now than ever. I encourage all other Hofstra students to go out there and make improbable things happen. And go see the movie!