Over the past year here at BCM, we’ve had the opportunity to host two video production interns from Lanier High School’s CDAT (Center for Design and Technology) program. They’ve been coming into the office twice a week: Mariah Campbell and Ben Lewin. The two have spent their time here working on independent projects as well as helping us with tasks. As with all good things, our nest is becoming empty as they graduate this month and go on to college. We were so impressed by the talent we see in high schoolers (especially THESE two high schoolers) we asked both of them to write a blog post about themselves and their experience interning with us. You already met Mariah, so now we’ll introduce you to Ben.
Ben Lewin was seventeen when he started interning with us last fall. He’s mostly focused on the production side of things, so we tossed him more camera operation and project management tasks. He recently won CDAT’s male senior All-Star Student award (as well as the superlative “Most likely to THINK they’ll rule the world). He’s driven and has an entrepreneurial spirit, so we know he’ll be at the helm of his own company before long.
My name is Ben Lewin and I am a senior at Lanier High School in Buford, GA. It is because of the school I attend that I got so lucky as to work as an intern at Biscardi Creative Media. Lanier has a technical program called the Center for Design And Technology (CDAT), which I have participated in since my sophomore year. When I heard what Lanier was doing, I was so compelled to participate because I have been looking to start my professional career as soon as possible and begin building an impressive portfolio early. I currently live in Lilburn and am a permissive transfer, so I have to drive 44 miles round trip to get to school every day, and have been doing that for 3 years.
Ever since I was young I have loved the art of storytelling. Not only do I have a passion for writing, but the process of film production has always appealed to me the most. I used to frequently make little short films with my friends and put them together in iMovie. Consequently, when I heard that I could use my passion of film to create projects and learn trade skills in my desired profession in school, I was more than motivated to participate. CDAT had a lot to offer and I was really able to strengthen my technical skills by learning and becoming proficient with NLE’s like the Premiere Pro and the Adobe suite.
During my high school career at Lanier, some film-related awards that I have won are the NATAS Southeast Student Production Award for outstanding excellence in the long-form fiction category; another award was a 1st place prize of $1,500 for the North Georgia Metropolitan Water District High School Video Contest. Since I am graduating in about a week, this fall I am attending Kennesaw State University where I plan on studying business. I want to own my own film production company and because of that I think that it would be astute to learn how to properly run a business. Stating film as my primary focus, my sights are not solely set on the former; versatile entrepreneurship is my blanket ambition in which I wish to aspire as a large-time investor and business owner.
My mentor and teacher, Mike Reilly, was connected to Walter Biscardi, Jr. and was looking for seniors, like myself, to reach out and attain an internship in their desired field of work. Because of my passion for the film industry, I jumped at the opportunity to acquire work experience at Biscardi Creative Media. Walter came over to Lanier one day and sat several students down, including me, for an interview and later hired a peer of mine, Mariah Campbell, and I.
I wasn’t unfamiliar with working for a production company. I had done some freelance work for BCM as a PA over the previous summer, but had never worked on the back-end as an editor or post-producer, much less produced an entire project from beginning to end. The first project we worked on was the latter; the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services needed a promo for its community service program called the Gwinnett Great Days of Service.
Walter had put Mariah and I in charge of the entire production from beginning to end. We contacted the client, wrote the interview questions, conducted the interviews, filmed on site, edited, and colored graded. Since the video was unscripted, I found it difficult to piece together a story that was both compelling and entertaining and, at the same time, maintained the integrity of the story itself. I really loved the way Walter handled us in regards to the project; we weren’t just these lowly, ignorant interns that we there to shut up and take notes. He, metaphorically, gave us the keys to the car and said “drive”. Of course, he would be there to catch us if we fell, but he wouldn’t hold our hands. This was a very conducive learning environment for me because, personally, I thrive under heavy responsibility and learn way more from experience than from hearing about it in a lecture.
The studio itself is extremely aesthetically pleasing. The floor plan enables a productive work environment and keeps in mind the needs of the various roles in production. One thing of value, in particular, that I have taken away from my experience is that organization is key. One ends up making it more difficult for themselves and wasting more time than necessary if they are reluctant to keep a tidy and organized project. Having every single resource and scratch disk in its exact location, all labeled and in order, makes working on the project faster and with clarity. That is just one out of many, seemingly small, but extremely important lessons that are not only applicable to the film industry, but to life in general.
I believe that it is essential that the youth start their work experience at a young age. It teaches them a trade skill and how to behave in a professional environment as well as giving them an idea of what they want to do with their life and, more importantly, what they don’t want to do. I was very privileged to have a real-world experience like this, especially in an environment like BCM, and I would recommend it to everyone.