By Aida Johan and Jessie Grewar
Imagine being on a film set. The harsh lights shining down. Two-stories of scaffolding being set up in front of your eyes to emulate a building. Breathing in the same air as your favourite movie star as she gets her glam done. Sounds like an absolute dream, doesn’t it?
Let’s get our heads out of the clouds and take it down ten notches. Not all film sets are as star-studded and majestic and you’d picture it to be. Joellyn Toh, a final-year creative industries student from QUT, currently completing her internship at a production house can attest to this.
“It’s really not as cushy as a lot of people think. Sure, it’s fun, it’s exciting but definitely not glamorous, especially if you’re an intern,” said the 22-year-old. A regular day for Joellyn, or Joe as she prefers to be called, starts with a cup of coffee at the office in Coopers Plains. “That’s one of the good things about being an intern, you get free coffee,” she jokes.
The first order of the day – transferring footage of the previous day’s event from the SD card to the iMac and the external hard drive. It’s a simple, but tedious task, which eats up half an hour solely due to the sheer size of the videos and photos. Pointing to the 2TB box, Joe emphasises the importance of having all content backed up in a hard drive. She likens it to “the oxygen tank that girl from The Fault in Our Stars drags around”. Her obsession with backing files up isn’t limited to just film stuff – saving diligently is imperative when working in the creative industries field.
Joe explains that she usually edits all the photos first, since it’s far less complicated than editing videos. She runs the photos through Adobe Lightroom, which allows users to create presets, so photos don’t have to be edited one by one. An entire folder of photos can be processed at a fraction of the time.
Lunch break comes and goes, and Joe is back at her desk, ready to churn out a polished video of the previous day’s events. With her eyes set on Premiere Pro on the 27-inch iMac and fingers galloping across the keyboard for shortcuts, Joe the Intern has transformed into a lean, mean, editing machine. Deadlines are tight in the creative world and producing high quality content in the shortest time possible is vital.
“Editing is really quick when no dialogue is involved. Just match the footage with the music,” she explains. Her tip to ensure the video doesn’t end at a weird part of the music? Get on YouTube and pick one of those royalty-free instrumentals. Most of them are basically made up of loops of the same chord progression, so you’re guaranteed to avoid awkward cut-offs.
Joe brings her hard drive over to her boss’ office for approval before sending it to the clients. Barely a minute into the meeting, her pen is already speeding across the paper, making notes of the changes that need to be made. She returns to her desk, ready for another round of editing. “There’ll always be creative differences, and since we’re at the bottom, it’s better to take the ideas of the senior staff. They know more about what works, and what doesn’t.” The final video is then exported and sent to the client (along with the photos) via cloud-sharing transfer site WeTransfer.
An hour later, we’re on the company’s truck heading to the location of another shoot. Joe rushes through traffic so the crew can capture a scene for another corporate video in “golden hour”. This term is used frequently in cinematography and it refers to the timeframe just moments after the sun rises or before sunset. The lighting in golden hour is highly sought after, as it gives a soft glow that would be hard to mimic with artificial lights.
We headed back to the office for another round of footage transfer, before Joe packs up and leaves for the day. Through this internship, she has come to realise that as with other sectors in the media, film can pretty demanding. But despite the struggles, she has no complains. “It can get tiring sometimes, but when you watch a film or see a TV ad that you had a hand in, you’ll get this sense of satisfaction that’s pretty hard to beat.”