Each November, the Napa Valley Film Festival unveils a world-class production to celebrate the cinematic arts and enrich the community, by bringing films and filmmakers into historic theaters, venues that are quite literally built from the ground up, and middle and high school classrooms that span from Napa to Calistoga.
What most people don’t realize, is that the festival doesn’t just appear in a matter of weeks, but rather a full twelve-month cycle of hard work and planning with our key partners, sponsors, and small but mighty team of just over a dozen employees.
In just seven short years, the festival has grown immensely. Without the dedicated efforts of both a year-round core team and seasonal employees, there would be no festival to enjoy. In addition to those of us who with careers in this industry, our High School and College-level Interns have made significant impacts on this festival and the direction it is heading in.
These interns, who have joined us from as close as right here in the Napa Valley to the East Coast, work tirelessly alongside the rest of us, aiding in key aspects of the festival from Administration, Operations, Programming, Marketing, and VIP Hospitality. Each of these roles come with their own set of challenges and new elements of learning, that only help to strengthen the young minds and keen spirits of those who work with the ever-growing production of the festival.
After summer and semester-long sessions working at the Napa Valley Film Festival, our seasoned interns take away these invaluable experiences that help catapult them into both college and professional careers. Employers and educators alike take note of these accomplishments, often commending them for their willingness to step outside the ‘normal’ range of work opportunities.
Between the fast-paced, constantly fluctuating schedules of our youthful neophytes, we caught up with one of them to hear about his personal experience, and why being a part of the festival matters to them. Read what he had to say, below.
“I joined as an intern at NVFF for the summer before my senior year of high school. It was around this time that I was starting to take film more seriously, and really considering it as a career path. When I joined, I was really just looking to immerse myself in the film industry as much as I possibly could in little old Napa, and the festival was the clearest link to the outside world. I hoped to gain some experience in seeing what kinds of films get admitted and accepted to festivals, in part to gauge how well I would have to do if and when I was in the position to submit my own work. I also hoped to gain some hands-on experience with filmmaking, since I knew the festival also made a lot of its own content.
Luckily, my time at the festival provided basically all I had hoped for. Perhaps it was in part because I was the first proper intern, but I really had the opportunity to do a little bit of everything. Perhaps my favorite activity was watching submitted films, and writing coverage on whether or not they should get into the festival. It was very educational for me, and helped me develop a critical eye for what works in films and what does not. Also, I had the ability to work with the in-house production company, where I was able to get a wide range of hands-on experience with shooting, editing, and basic effects. I learned skills in camera operation and technique, and general post-production, which set me up well for going into college, as well as other film jobs.
I also gained connections there that benefited me in finding other film-related jobs in my senior year, both as a cameraperson and as an editor. It also helped inform my personal filmmaking, that I continued on the side throughout senior year. In fact, my NYU application film was only really possible due to the connections I made and the skills I learned at the festival. Overall, it was an extremely helpful starting off point for understanding how the film world works, and what makes someone skillful in it.
Currently, I am in my second semester of my senior year at NYU Tisch. I have focused on directing and screenwriting primarily, and I am currently building a career path as an editor. I have one major short film currently in post-production that I will be submitting to festivals (including NVFF!) starting in May. I also just finished fundraising for my senior thesis film that I will be shooting in April. My goal is to direct a feature in the next couple of years, and see where that takes me. Hopefully back to Napa, and the film festival that started me off!”
All of this hard work will come to fruition at our 7th annual festival, November 8 – 12, 2017. We hope to see you there!