Climbing to success: Workshop touts Hollywood internships

By Colby Seegmiller and Andy Thompson

Entertainment industry specialists Heidi and Steven Banks introduced their Ladder Program to the U in workshops Nov. 2 and 3 in LNCO.

The program offers 13-week internships for students interested in careers in the entertainment industry.

Steven Banks is a screenwriter and U alumnus. His wife Heidi, an actress, graduated from Northwestern University, where she helped develop a Los Angeles Internship Program to help students see what careers are available in Hollywood.

“Northwestern alumni run three out of five broadcast networks and have a very powerful alumni group that takes care of their own,” Steven Banks said. “I want that for the U.”

The workshop, organized by the Public Relations Student Society of America, was part of an effort to start a similar program at the U. It helps seniors start building networks and connecting to internship opportunities.

Participants in Northwestern’s program have a 95 percent success rate of finding a job, and half the time the job is where the student already interned, Steven Banks said. The internships include a 35-hour workweek and feature a two-hour weekly class on the entertainment industry.

One thing the program teaches is successful networking, which requires applicants to know exactly where they want to work, Heidi Banks said.

“A person going into Hollywood needs to decide if they are going to start in film or television first,” she said.

Though many people perceive that television and film are in the same ballpark, the Bankses explained that they are two very different ballparks.

It’s also important to have a focus because in Hollywood, there are two sides to each type of market: buyers and sellers, Heidi Banks said.

A buyer is someone who works for a studio and chooses which scripts to produce. Sellers are actors, grip men, writers and directors who are trying to sell their products.

“Understand that both sides of buying and selling have an equal amount of pluses and minuses,” Steven Banks said.

People interested in film do better starting out in independent areas and then working up to the bigger, more conglomerate studios, where more money is involved, he said. In whatever area someone wants to work, he or she has to climb a “ladder.” Internships are a great way to get started on that ladder, Heidi Banks said.Wade Barnes, a senior in communication, said he found the workshop helpful.

“I’m interested in entertainment and publicity, especially in the international aspect,” he said. “It was interesting to see all the many different sides and options that are available in the industry.”

For more information about The Ladder Program, e-mail [email protected] or call 801-762-7864.

[email protected]

[email protected]