My name is Jeremiah VanderHelm. I am, by all appearances, a fully functioning 21-year-old adult male with a developed cerebral cortex. I also, apparently, never developed my reading comprehension beyond what can be expected from your average kindergartner, as I learned this morning when I received an email reminding me that in return for the scholarship that is allowing me to stay in Los Angeles during the course of my internship this summer, I am required to keep a blog here. To be clear, I thought I’d read something about a written journal to be kept this summer, and I’ve been doing that. My mom even bought me a nice leatherbound one that smells nicer than anything I own which I remember thinking would work absolutely perfectly.
So I was somewhat surprised this morning to find that the journal I was meant to keep was explicitly stated as being online. After acquiring a membership with Hooked on Phonics to make sure this sort of thing never happens again — new members get a 25% discount and there’s also a 30% summer sale going on sitewide, so it wasn’t too much of a drain on my wallet — I resolved to post here weekly, which should take me to just before the end of my internship.
So how have things been going so far? Let me give you the highlights.
- My internship is with Dark Horse Entertainment, a production company operating in Studio City, CA. My AirBnB is just a short bus ride away — more on which later — so the location is pretty terrific. I’m a student in the SAC (Screen Arts and Cultures) program heading into my senior year, so the opportunity to get a foothold into the Hollywood filmmaking industry, specifically the screenwriting aspect of it which is my passion, is one I jumped at as soon as I had the chance.
- My general duties include:
- general office work, answering phones, taking inventory, making coffee, etc.
- script coverage, where I’m given a script by my supervisors and I read it, write a summary, and give my thoughts about what works and what doesn’t.
- some light pre-production work, which so far has consisted of making lists for potential writers in a writers room for a TV show or giving my thoughts on who a good director would be for a project.
- Early this month, I was given the opportunity to meet with Harry Winer, whose family supplied with with another scholarship for my stay out here, and together with a few other interns who had benefited from his family’s scholarship, we got lunch together and talked about what life in LA is like. It was thoroughly delightful and Harry has made an effort to keep in touch with us and give thoughts on our previous work with the SAC program. After lunch, I saw Ocean’s 8. I was not a fan.
- Next month, I’ll be going to San Diego Comic-Con with Dark Horse, thus fulfilling an item that has been on my bucket list since I first heard of the convention and giving me a valuable opportunity to network with the creative minds who will be in attendance. When my boss told me I was being sent down, I almost started crying. It’s the nerd pilgrimage to end all nerd pilgrimages.
- Los Angeles public transportation is perhaps the most incredible natural source of comedy I’ve ever come across. Highlights from my bus to/from work include:
- The time I saw a man in a “Make America Great Again” hat watching Bambi on his iPad, so the whole bus could hear it, and weeping openly.
- The time a woman walked up to me and asked, without provocation, if I wanted her to cast a “love spell” on me. I didn’t know how to respond to that, so I just got up without a word, stepped off the bus at the next stop, and walked the rest of the way to work.
- California is a resoundingly awesome state. I grew up living in a small town in west Michigan, and there’s an energy to Los Angeles every time I step out my door that’s infectious. I’ve seen many of the sights, including the Hollywood sign, the Wisdom Tree, Griffith Observatory, the Santa Monica Pier, and Sequoia National Park, and I’m hoping to see more.
- My inability to think on my feet and my unending, Costanza-esque desire to be liked by everyone means I took a field trip to the LA headquarters of Scientology while trying to get to Griffith Observatory after a couple recruiters came up to me and I decided that instead of saying, “I am not interested; your organization scares the living crap out of me,” I engaged them in polite conversation about Star Wars and Dianetics. When they said, “Come with us to the scary blue building where people have been disappeared,” I did not say, “No, the way you are reading me like a book and preying on my apparently easily visible insecurities is unnerving me to no end,” I said, “Well, I have somewhere to be…” and mumbled something about Wendy’s. When they invited me inside their headquarters, I did not say, “I saw Going Clear. I know what happens in here.” I stepped inside, took their pamphlet, listened to their spiel about how you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet (which…yeah, but you also can’t believe everything you read in L. Ron Hubbard books), and got shown a brief twenty-minute introduction video to the wonderful world of Scientology. After it was done, by which point I had pretty much made my peace with God, I stood up, thanked them for their time, told them I would “definitely have to look into some things,” got smiled at by the pretty receptionist, and then and only then did I get the living, breathing sh*t out of Dodge. Again, I am a fool.
- Every Tuesday evening, the SAC department hosts a speaker series event where a person from the industry comes in to host a discussion about the work they do and how it intersects with what we, the interns, would like to do. So far, we’ve had the director of the new Mamma Mia! movie and a writer from Narcos, and both discussions have been incredibly information and interesting as a person hoping to work as a writer someday.
- I work three days a week, so my days off are spent in a never-ending search for a paying job that I’m starting to worry will never materialize, working on a feature script that I have to believe — despite the voices in my head — will eventually be something I can be proud of, and frequenting nearby movie theaters.
That’s the short version of it. Depending on how the next few weeks go, I may expand or go deeper into some of these things and how they affect my day-to-day operations.