Intern Insider: Shandler Gets Inside Scoop at Valhalla Motion Pictures

Oh, he could tell you, but if he did, he'd probably have to ... Wait, haven't we heard this before? Sounds like an old film and TV character cliché, uttered by some "government man" with secret knowledge of some-such goings-on. The idiom is predictably vague because, quite frankly, you don't get to know the insider knowledge.

There’s something to that, isn’t there? It’s nice to have information that others don’t. It means you’re respected enough to be trusted. Brett Shandler, a senior cinema major and inside man, knows all about that after a couple of weeks of interning at Valhalla Motion Pictures in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Shandler’s secrets are a result of the ample script coverage he’s completed already, and for contractual reasons he can’t discuss the projects that his company has in production. But he can tell you that he’s read scripts for some upcoming blockbusters, such as “Prince of Persia” and “Passengers.”

“It is very cool to read the script from a movie that I will see a couple of years from now,” he says.

Not only does he cover scripts, but he also completes research and trains new interns as part of his internship. And he’s recently received rave reviews for his work.

“I feel as if they are trusting me more and more by the day,” Shandler says. “I want to learn as much as possible about the business of film production and acquire an exceptional recommendation for my future career.”

That future career is in film, a destination he began to chart after his first viewing of Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby.” That movie, he says, was the catalyst.

“From that point on I have been making films in school instead of doing PowerPoints or other types of presentations,” he says. “It’s just the way my brain works.”

This summer, his internship deals with production only, so he’ll never be on a set. But he says he’s still learning a great deal about the pre-production process. He says he’s mastering how to be a part of a larger team and studying with accomplished producers like his boss, Gale Ann Hurd, who has produced movies such as “Terminator,” “Armageddon” and “Aliens.”

“I am able to practice writing, directing, filming, editing at school and on my own time,” Shandler says. “But the things I’m doing here you can’t really practice on your own. Above all, by reading so many scripts per week, this internship has helped me gauge what makes a good script and the complete pre-production process.”

But Shandler says he wants to be an auteur—someone who is in charge of his movie from start to finish, someone who has complete creative control over the production and outcome of a film. He says he knows that is a luxury afforded to a select few filmmakers, but by breaking into the business this summer, he’s setting himself up to achieve that goal at some point. In the meantime, though, he says he’s drawn toward cinematography and music supervision.

“My ultimate goal is to make films that have an impact on people’s lives,” Shandler says. “I want to comment on society through my films and I want them to have greater cultural significance. I simply want to make films. That includes writing, directing and producing.”

Shandler found the Valhalla internship through research he did throughout the spring. When he went home to Philadelphia in the middle of the semester, he went on some interviews in the hopes of finding an internship close to home. But while he was there, he also completed a phone interview with Valhalla. At the end of the 30-minute conversation, Shandler had been offered the internship.

“I decided that an internship with a highly respected film company in Los Angeles far exceeded anything I could do at home for an unknown company,” he says.

So Shandler packed up and headed for L.A. for the summer, with the knowledge he had gained from his Communications classes, ready to begin his journey into the film industry.

“This internship has made me feel like I am ready to start my career,” Shandler says. “While I look forward to my final year at Elon, I can’t wait to move (to Los Angeles) full time and actually make films.”

Intern Insider will run one to two times a week during the summer and will feature brief stories about some of the interns from the School of Communications or in School of Communications programs.

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