Internships define career goals for two Cinema majors

Meghan Schatz sits at the controls during her internship with MPT.
September 17, 2013

Encouraged to think of their internships as six- to eight-week long interviews, two Cinema majors sampled every aspect of production, from operating cameras to lighting, audio and make-up to designing graphics and post-production editing.

The result? Seniors Meghan Schatz and Jabraan Ismail want to do it all.

“My internship reinforced what I want to do – to be a senior producer,” says Ismail, just back from six weeks in Hollywood as a production assistant working with alumnus Jim Wilberger ’72 at Hallmark. “I experienced camera, grip work, electric, make up, audio plus two weeks of post production.

“And Jim let me sit in on production meetings where they figure out locations and also how everyone is going to get paid.”

Ismail, who is also majoring in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, saw his internship as a chance for him to figure out how to mimic Hollywood productions without the budget. His summer experience was supported in part through a Center for Experience and Opportunity (CEO) stipend, new this year to reinforce the value of internships and put unpaid internships within every student’s reach.

He and his brother, Kamran, have had their own company, JKI Productionz, since high school and most recently are producing their first feature film, “The Forsaken Pages,” which promotes diversity and culture in film.

Schatz, who will continue her internship as time allows this semester, worked three days a week at Maryland Public Television (MPT) as a production operations intern on such shows as “Your Money, Your Business” and “Chesapeake Collectibles.” Along with on-the-job learning that can’t be duplicated in the classroom, she discovered the importance of asking questions and not being shy.

“They assume you know if you don’t ask questions – and the more I asked, the more I got to do,” says Schatz, who is also majoring in Communication. Everyone, she says, was eager to answer her questions and give her a chance to try new things. She enjoyed the camaraderie – even though she struggled to maintain her composure while on camera during a fundraiser with the crew’s jokes coming through her headphones loud and clear.

Ismail had his share of mishaps and laughter too. The crew broke into laughter the first time Ismail clapped the slate to open a scene – way too loud and too close to the lead actor’s ear. Six weeks later, wrapping up production at 1 a.m. in California’s dark, windy Simi Valley, the crew refused to leave until Ismail overcame his fears, climbed onto the crane – used to mimic moonlight 175 feet above a camping scene – and was lifted more than 15 stories in the air.

Internships define career goals for two Cinema majors
Jabraan Ismail spent some of his summer internship in Hollywood behind the camera.

He laughs at the memory of searching for what he thought was the DGA Theater after Wilberger invited him to the new Star Trek movie. After wandering around Sunset Blvd. and asking for directions, a parking attendant finally said, “Oh, you mean the Director’s Guild of America?” There Ismail found an elegant surround-sound theater with a red velvet curtain and comfy reclining chairs and enjoyed the screening with Wilberger and other directors, producers and actors.

As a result of their internships, both Schatz and Ismail have decided to reach beyond their comfort zones for their capstone projects. Ismail will broaden his horizon by doing something different than narrative. 

“I want to challenge myself by doing something I’ve never done before – I’d like to try fiction and do it well,” says Schatz.