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Student Film Interns Thank “The Academy”

by Michael Samuels 09F

“Now I am able to take myself and my film work seriously,” Jennifer Saparzadeh 07F said. “I learned how I can support myself and continue to work creatively.”

Saparzadeh attributes this change to her internship through Hampshire College’s Entertainment Industry Internship Program (EIIP). The EIIP pairs students interested in film, music, photography, and performance with Hampshire alumni who work in those fields, providing real-world experience for the former and motivated interns with fresh perspectives for the latter.

As one of eight EIIP film interns who received grants from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last summer, Saparzadeh worked for the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival (SFFFF) with Natalie Mulford 95F, one of the festival’s creators. Saparzadeh assisted in viewing and selecting films submitted to the festival and editing final projects.

“The internship also allowed me to explore an area that I did not know about and will greatly aid my work in film,” Saparzadeh said, “grants.”

Thanks to the Academy of Motion Pictures grant, Saparzadeh now knows how to finance her future works. As a result, she changed her Division III (senior) project. Now confident about becoming a filmmaker, she has decided to make a narrative feature-length silent film, while researching grants for which she can apply once the screenplay is finished.

Amanda Lundquist 07F and Carl Elsaesser 07F interned at Florentine Films, working with Ken Burns 71F, where they saw how a Hampshire education translates into a career. Both were impressed by the collaborative structure of Florentine Films.

“[Ken Burns] has this group of editors, and he says, 'Hey, you want to try something new? Hey, this is a person who's done something else and now they're going to try this...' It's very open, very collaborative,” Lundquist said. 

This exploration of others' work, incorporating a range of personalities and disciplines, spurred Elsaesser on. “I got so inspired, I started working on my Div III while I was there,” he said.

For some grant recipients, connections made during internships have led to jobs. Cass Greener 06F is employed as a production assistant for Corra Films, where she interned last summer on the feature-length documentary The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan. Thomas Ciaburri 08F continues to work for the Music Maker Relief Foundation, which partners with Machopingo Films and the Danish production company Dreams Beyond Pictures to document the lives of musicians in the American South.

Alums who provide internships benefit from the interdisciplinary versatility encouraged in Hampshire students. Jeffrey Striker 06F interned with Crescent Diamond 95F and Hampshire film/photo professor Joan Braderman at No More Nice Girls Productions. Striker applied to help with publicity and distribution for the documentary Heretics: Stories From a Feminist Art Collective because of his interest in post-production work, but the film still needed additional motion graphic and graphic design work when he arrived. “There was still a lot of work to be done in computer programs like After Effects, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and Dreamweaver. When Joan and the producer, Crescent, realized that I had the skillset for this kind of work, they immediately put me to the job,” Striker said.

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