Career Planning | Internships | September 2012

Internship Spotlight: Kate at Oscilloscope Laboratories

by Kate Patterson, New York University

Name: Kate | School: New York University | Major and Class Year: Film and TV, Mass Media, Creative Non-Fiction, class of 2012

What does your company do?
oscilloscope-laboratoriesOscilloscope Laboratories is a small, independent film distribution company started by Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys and based in New York City. We acquire, market, distribute, and screen indie films like We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Messenger, and Shut Up and Play the Hits to both theatrical and non-theatrical venues all over the country. We're not the typically stuffy film company filled with old executives: our official position is that we're distributing films to raise money to complete work on a time machine and soon we'll fold space and time. We also have lab coats.

What is your position there?
Distribution Intern

Can you tell us about a typical day on the job?
It all depends on the day! Because Oscilloscope Laboratories is a small company, the interns complete tasks for everyone in the office: from theatrical to non-theatrical bookings, from marketing to acquisitions and everything in between.

A big part of the internship (and most other film internships) is working on shipments. As a film distribution company, we send out tons of shipments every day, which mostly consist of promotional materials like posters, postcards, and DVD screeners of our films. It may just seem like boring busy work, but it can be exciting when you realize that the five hundred posters that you just spent an hour trying to force into shipping tubes are going to famous filmmakers like James Murphy and Andrea Arnold. There are also ongoing projects that we work on, like keeping records of the acquisition status of films premiering at film festivals like Toronto, Venice, and Fantastic Fest.

And, of course, there's always time to watch films
! We get dozens and dozens of screeners from film festivals and directors, and everyone pitches in to take home a handful, watch them, and then send back a review about whether or not the film is worth pursuing. This is probably my favorite part of the internship - knowing that your opinion on a film could help determine our film slate.

What are your career goals and how will this internship help you achieve them?
I ultimately want to work in film acquisitions or television programming. I love thinking about how certain films would fit in with our slate or if they would be more suited to another company, and the process of seeking out and acquiring new films is daunting but incredibly interesting. Like every other intern, I hope that my internship at Oscilloscope Laboratories will eventually lead to a job, but I also hope that it will help give me a leg up into the industry. The entertainment industry especially is all about making connections and who you know, and if you make a good impression as an intern, that automatically shows your potential for employment in the future.

What are the three biggest mistakes any intern could make?

1. Being afraid to ask questions! Don't think that you'll look stupid for asking even the most basic questions - it's better to feel silly in the short term then do the job incorrectly in the long term.

2. Not stepping up! Volunteer for every task, offer to help with every project, come early, and stay late - it's the easiest way to have people remember your name and want to seek you out for more responsibility in the future.

3. Not picking something you're passionate about! If you don't love the field you're in, packaging shipments and making mail runs will get old really fast, and there are dozens of other people who would love to be in your position.

What advice do you have for someone trying to get an internship position similar to yours?
Entertainment internships are pretty competitive, so don't get fixated on one company as your "dream internship" - send resumes out early and send them in bulk. There are tons of online resources for finding internships (I tend to use a lot). Also, don't be shy about talking to your professors and advisors! I got my first internship at a film magazine after a professor of mine who also worked as an editor liked the writing I'd done in his class, and he offered me an editorial internship at the magazine.

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