Paul Edwards, a UNC alumnus turned Hollywood screenwriter and director said that when he moved to Los Angeles years ago to find a job, that he knew only one person involved in the entertainment industry.
After making a name for himself, Edwards took on the job of director of UNC’s Hollywood Media Internship program to give students A-list internships he never had.
“I can teach students in two months what it took me five years to learn,” he said.
A part of the Department of Communication Studies, the program gives a select group of students access to one of the most difficult industries in the nation.
In addition to lining up summer internships for students, the program brings in professional actors, producers, directors and writers for seminars and information sessions. Both the seminars and the internship count for course credit.
The department is currently accepting applications for the program until 4 p.m. Thursday. The program begins June 10 and runs through August 10.
“When the interns come in as a group, you get a support system for each other that some of us who came as pioneers didn’t have to our advantage,” Edwards said.
Currently, the program is restricted to those majoring in communications or minoring in writing for the screen and stage.
Edwards, who selected 12 students for the program last year, personally contacts various organizations for unpaid internships depending on the students’ personal interests. Students typically work for production companies under producers, directors or writers.
Edwards said he hopes he will be able to extend the program to include those looking to pursue acting in the summer of 2009.
Sean von Lembke, who graduated in May, participated in the program last summer. After an internship with ABC Family’s television show, “Greek,” he was hired for a position.
“The program got me the internship that got me the job out here,” he said. “But pretty much nothing I learned in college has been put to use. But I know that if I stick to it and prove my worth as a gopher, I’ll be able to put to use the skills and talents I’ve learned from UNC.”
The program introduces students to guest speakers such as UNC alumnus Peyton Reed, director of “The Break-Up,” with the intention that students will make business connections for their careers.
“It’s all about who you know,” Edwards said. “If you come out here by yourself it’s a struggle to find out job information because it’s not like there are job postings for these positions like other careers, it’s all a matter of contacts, and students meet literally a couple hundred people.”
Contact the Arts Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.