Being an intern at Travel Film Productions means wearing a lot of hats. In the span of any given day I could call myself a videographer, editor, social media manager, or professional kid wrangler. I’m having a blast working at their post-production house in Mount Prospect, IL, which is a 30 minute train ride from downtown Chicago.
From day one, I was given the task of overhauling the show’s YouTube channel. Although the show reaches a significant portion of U.S. households via PBS, the challenge in today’s media landscape is to make sure that content is actually making an impression on the audience. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink…in the same way, the fact that content is available to consumers doesn’t necessarily mean they’re consuming it. YouTube is a great way to reach a global audience and its analytical capabilities can allow you to really corner your target demographics. So far I haven’t dug too far into it yet, but I’m planning on making a post near the end of the summer entirely devoted to what I did for the YouTube channel, so if you’re interested, stay tuned for that.
It’s been really valuable for me to learn more about the business side of media production. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that one of the biggest challenges facing media content creators today is how to pay for it. Making a profit is all well and good, but many media companies are either struggling to break even or are having to make significant changes to keep up and prepare for the future. It costs money to produce good media content, and the funding has to come from somewhere. For the purposes of our travel show, the real challenge is finding a way to subtly including nods to sponsors within the show without the whole thing become one big commercial. Apart from wanting to preserve the company’s integrity and ethical standards, too much advertising within a TV show does not sit well with viewers or critics.
It makes me happy to be working somewhere where the hours fly by. I go into the office at 9am and usually don’t leave until around 5, after almost everyone else has already left. I stay because I’m usually so engrossed in a project that I don’t want to pack up all my things and interrupt my work. The days seem very short, but I definitely pack a lot into them.
Right now I’m working with another intern, Jessica, to create short digital videos for the show’s YouTube and website. The videos are all about games and crafts to do while travelling– hence the “kid wrangler” part of my job description, as my boss’ kids are the stars. I’ve really had to delve into my arts-and-crafts side, which is of course a very fun challenge to take on.
Honestly, it hardly matters to me what is that I’m filming, because I love doing the filming and the editing so much. It’s been great to be given virtually free rein over the equipment at Travel Film Production’s post-production house, as well as de facto director of photography and directorial duties for these projects.
It’s been a pleasure working with the people associated with the company so far. As I mentioned previously, the company president, Tricia Fusilero, knew my parents in college and is a very generous friend to me and my family, not to mention a valuable connection for me to have going into the future. The company editor, Dustin, also seems like someone I can learn a lot from. I’m looking forward to continuing to pick their brains about all things video production related. Last but not least, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other interns; there are six of us this year (I’m the only guy- no complaints there), and I’ve enjoyed collaborating with them and hanging out with them after work.
All in all, things are going great! Stay tuned for more updates on what I’m getting up to here in Chicago. Soon I should have some finished video content to share with you. See you next time!