Production without training wheels: Internship take two

Film and media production is a unique line of work. Like other fields, we have our own lingo, our own titles, and intricate dynamics. From first hand experience, diving in head first is incredibly intimidating, and kind of like learning how to ride a bike. It’s a bit touch and go as you learn the essentials, but comes with milestone experiences and growing comfort.

If you had stopped me on the street approximately twelve weeks ago as I started working as a production intern for Hidden Woods Media, it probably would have been something along the lines of excited and nervous… I knew I had a long way to go until I could consider myself fluent in the language of production. But nevertheless, I would make my way to the quaint little brick house that acts as Hidden Woods Media’s office with numb fingers and boots covered in snow and wonder what I was going to learn about that day.

When I take a brief  moment of self reflection, it shocks me to think of how much I have grown in the course of one quarter – three months – and how much I have grown to love this office and the people who work here. Dave and Pat have been my mentors from day one, but that circle has since expanded to include many other talented individuals including Aidan McCarthy, Diego Estrada, and Katie Leonard. They’ve been excellent resources when I have a question regarding our editing software, Premiere Pro; among other things like how to really maximize the use out of a Canon C300 or a Sony FS7.

However, from day one, I knew I was interested in the field of sound. Whether that was sound mixing and being a sound operator on set to sound design in post, I was (and still am) really eager to learn it all. And I have learned so much about this small and complicated field in the film world that I wouldn’t have had inside access to otherwise.

Perhaps the most invaluable resource that Hidden Woods has provided me with was a chance to meet and shadow Cody Troyer, who, in short, is a genius when it comes to anything and everything sound related. On a week long shoot of filming for HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams, I was placed as his PA and was fortunate to spend countless hours asking questions and trying to take in all the advice I could from someone so experienced and professional as him. He gave me simple and profound bits of advice like: once you mix on one pair of headphones, make those headphones yours forever because that’s what you’re used to hearing and processing. It won’t be the same information that you receive on another pair of headphones and you won’t necessarily understand what you’re hearing. There was also extensive conversations about audio recorders, mixers, microphones, booms, etc. that gave me a head start into buying my first recorder and mixer to get my feet wet as a sound operator myself.

Those ten weeks in that quarter flew by, and I admitted to myself it was going to be hard to leave this group of people that I had grown so accustomed to working with and learning from. So, when the day came where I sat at one of the computers sourcing music for a project, and had Dave and Pat walk in to propose a second quarter of interning, I couldn’t have said yes fast enough.

Now I find myself back at the office for my second term and it easily feels like home here. Even though I am always happy to be setting up c-stands, running and grabbing batteries, and normalizing audio in interviews in post… I have hit the ground running after a week break between these two quarters. I know that after ten weeks of already getting to know everyone and feeling out the world of production, more is to be expected of me, the work I am able to put out, and tasks I’ll be asked to accomplish. And honestly, I couldn’t be happier. Every day is a new challenge. Sound tasks are getting more and more complex, I’ve searched and worked with animations, sent off drives sourced to other companies, and helped cut down raw footage into selects used in editing. The camaraderie in the office now feels like family, and I have been incorporated in as one of the team. I have no doubt that I am going to become a better person in production with another ten weeks as Hidden Woods’ intern, and realize that I have only encountered the tip of the iceberg.

Overall, this is no ordinary internship either, and this position has readily prepared me for so much more. As I work on filming my capstone short film back at school, I can come into the office with questions, advice, or guidance and have a collaborative conversation on any topic… just name which one you want to talk about. As an example, Dave reached out and offered to teach me how to do color correction beyond the basic levels. Without a doubt, moments like these make my time here even more fulfilling.

I still have a ton to learn, and I realize that, but I look forward to every new day here in the office and on set, and am ready to take on whatever task I have been assigned. Even though I set my sights on sound, I’m finding that the well rounded opportunities and insights Hidden Woods has granted me into other jobs like cinematography and producing has made it much easier to work with others outside of this internship. And with another day come and gone, I walk out the door ready for a new day and new learning opportunities.