Since an article appeared on Designing Sound mentioning the virtual interns I ran a few years ago, I’ve had a bunch of emails & messages asking me when the next internship is, so this is a shortcut to writing/sending the same message repeatedly: I have no plans for future internships, for a whole bunch of reasons… Sorry!
First, over the cycle of past internships I felt my commitment to the idea slowly dissipate. The first one was enjoyable and involved a healthy discourse, but also consumed a fair amount of time. But a couple of cycles later I felt I no longer had the motivation to run an internship well and I would rather not do things that I do not have passion for and can do well. It may still have had some value for an intern but it negatively impacts on me.
Second, the internship worked best when I was working on a film, as that way I could share my process as it happened – I didn’t have to prepare some sort of study plan, as a schedule already existed for the film project. Because the internship was not in the public arena, it meant I could share information and ideas and offer advice that I simply can and would not in public. I’m currently taking a break from long form film post to pursue my own projects, so that aspect no longer fits.
Thirdly, the internship was never intended to be indefinitely ongoing – my goal was to ‘pay it forward’ and to help a few people in the same way that when I left Film School as a beginner someone helped me. So I felt I had achieved that goal but had also reached a point where to continue would mean I am basically committing a sizeable chunk of my future time to becoming an educator or lecturer. To make it more efficient I would need to clarify and effectively develop a course of study, otherwise I am reinventing the wheel each time around. And devoting significant amounts of time to doing that just doesn’t interest me,
When I think about how I want to spend my time, my primary motive and goal is, and always has been about creativity – to be ‘doing’ and making things (sound, music, film, photography, art etc etc) So time invested in educating others is time taken away from that goal. And any free time I have for learning is devoted to actually teaching myself: when I think of the fields of endeavour that I am exploring (sound, music, photography, art, writing) the well is very deep – I feel like I am personally only scratching the surface and there are mountains to climb (and metaphors to mix!) and lots to learn. Its also not like I actually have free time I need to fill – life also needs to contain time to relax!
So my advice for those seeking an internship: persevere locally. The ideal outcome from an internship is to accelerate evolution and to find a starting point in employment – an internship provides the mentor an opportunity to discover and develop your skills. But here is the thing: an intern is a time commitment and investment for any mentor, and absolutely no one wants to waste months of their time or energy only to discover you aren’t the right person. This is why internships are not common – it is a serious undertaking and commitment on the part of the mentor. As an example, many years ago I took on 3 trainees locally for a film project – they basically job-shared an assistants role, and my dialogue supervisor also took on an assistant/trainee. Only one of those four is still pursuing film sound post. Maybe those other three learned something valuable but for us those three were a waste of time and resources. The one who did succeed makes me feel a little proud with every new project he works on, but in hindsight those other three should not have been interns. Probably the same goes for the virtual interns – half of them were fully engaged & have gone on to do great work, and I am proud to have played a small part in their success, but the others shouldn’t have been interns and I should have eliminated them. So before applying for an internship do some serious self assessment – are you committed?