Cinematography Student Works in L.A.

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Internship Experience Reflection by Austin Jacobson

L.A. Quarter, Fall 2016

As part of the 2016 LA Quarter, my internship was at AbelCine. It was a worthwhile time investment and a valuable experience to everyone involved. I learned a lot from my internship at AbelCine, and I learned a lot about Los Angeles from my short time living here for the quarter.

AbelCine is primarily a camera rental company, which also offers other services that include a hands-on sales floor and equipment store, inventory, equipment servicing, and training. They serve clients ranging from national camera enthusiasts to local companies like The Hollywood Reporter. I was drawn to interning at AbelCine because I want to be a cinematographer, and I really liked the selection of high-end equipment and training they provided. The process from applying to interning was as follows. First, I applied online to their Rental Intern Program, submitting my resume and a cover letter with specific details that they requested. About a week later, I received a phone call from AbelCine from someone in their administration department for the purpose of an on the spot interview. After telling them about the experience I had from other internships in high school and practical set experience from JPCatholic film shoots, they decided I should be considered for a higher level internship in the Training Department. A week later, I was interviewed by the head of the Training Department, who asked specific details about my knowledge of specific pieces of equipment and skills in using them. Two weeks after that, I got the call that I had been selected, and it was smooth sailing from there!

My experience with the internship itself was a great one. On the first day, I was given a tour and overview of the company for the Rental and Training Departments. My boss ran through all the basic tasks I would be doing for various classes and preps, which was really helpful. He tested me on how I handled some lighting equipment and had me operate the camera for a shot for the company blog, all of which I did well on. In the afternoon, the Training Department held a two-day intensive class on the Phantom 4K Flex. I helped set up the room and fetched lenses and tripods as I learned about the mechanics of this high-tech and high-speed camera. The next day, the class continued to the production phase where I helped whenever I could as we blew up soda cans, poured beer, slapped water balloons against faces, dropped flaming pumpkins, and watched it back all in slow motion.

In the following weeks, I learned relevant information about the workings of how a camera sees and processes color, how editing and coloring software utilizes that data, and how to get the most out of my cameras and editing software. Camera-wise, I learned how to use the Canon C300 Mark II and the Arri cameras (the Alexa Plus, Alexa QT Plus, and the Alexa Mini). It was awesome to learn about the Arri cameras because they’re the industry standard for feature films. My boss helped me set up the cameras, so I learned skills that I would use as 1st and 2nd Assistant Camera on a feature film set. During the class, I helped more with setting up lights, as well as operating the camera a couple times to get the feel of it.

When there weren’t any classes in the Training Department, I worked in the Rental Department. At first I mostly spent time getting to know the different people working in Rental, but I also eventually learned how to quality check various tripods and how to handle them on a professional set, as well as how to check lens filters, BNC cables, stingers, and camera sensors.

Now that I’m in the final days of my internship, I can say that I’ve gained valuable experience and knowledge that I can use as a cinematographer and camera crew person in the industry, and made several connections that I hope to maintain over the years. I know that AbelCine was a great place for my internship, and I’m excited to move on and work professionally in the industry with other companies like AbelCine.