The Lucky Lady – My experience as a winner of the Insight Student Filmmaker Award

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By Lina Luciano

Hollywood sign
Destination Loyola Studios Hollywood

The Dream Team

In my travels, wherever I’ve gone, the people I’ve met along the journey have defined my experiences. In my time at Loyola Productions, the team I was fortunate enough to work with were the highlight of my internship. All of my colleagues were quite different in their own way, totally unique from each other and seasoned in differing fields.

Let’s begin with Father Eddie: if you ever doubted whether cool priests exist – look no further than the boss himself. He dressed in colourful clothes, he had an open mind and held barbecues at his home. The most striking aspect I remember about him is the warmth he welcomed me with. He felt more like a father (of the biological kind) than a boss. If you get to work with this wonderful man,  consider yourself blessed.

Enid ran the establishment. I’m still not quite sure what her official job title is, only that when it came to certain departments, “Enid takes care of that.” I genuinely have to wonder if that lady is a guardian angel. Everybody – and I mean everybody – needs an Enid in their life.

Camera man

On location at the studios

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erik was my guru. I don’t think i’ve come up with a question he didn’t have an answer for. I think if I asked him what my blood type was, he’d have an answer for that too – and he’d probably be correct. He really went above and beyond to train me and give me tools and skills that i’m sure I will be using for the rest of my career.

John is your new best friend. Seriously. He takes every intern out to lunch on the first day, he shows them around the city and tells you where the happy hour bars are. There’s a lot I can say about this man but to summarise my feelings of my time with him – I’ve made a life long friendship. Also John deserves a pay raise (he made me write this.)

I checked my Facebook messages as soon as I arrived in London and found I had a message from Michael asking me if I had landed safely. Essentially, this summarises Michael – he cares, and he shows it.

Overall their personalities are strikingly different but wonderful in their own unique ways. I don’t know how Eddie has managed to find a team of people who understand each other and connect on a beautiful level like he has, but he’s accomplished it.

Editing software

Learning new editing skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Eureka Moment

One of the remarkable opportunities that came along with doing an internship such as this was the chance to make my own short film. Initially a few ideas were thrown around regarding the topic I could explore and we eventually settled on refugees. However, I felt on this topic in particular, I’d said everything I needed to say in my former work.

Whether it was luck or fate, both Michael and Erik opened my eyes to long sentences given to children in America – for instance 50 years to life for a 14 year old – on the same day. I’m from Australia – the idea that a child could be given a prolonged death sentence was foreign and downright appalling to me. I’m sure many people the world over would agree.

There is a moment that every film maker can relate to – a eureka moment. When hearing these youth incarceration stories, I had my eureka moment and the fire that it ignited in me made it clear that this was the topic I’d be doing a short film on.

In the process of making this documentary, I managed to meet a diverse range of people with compelling stories and warrior-like resilience. I felt, and still feel, a great deal of responsibility to tell their stories in the most impactful way possible. I’m ambitious in saying this, but I hope watching this movie can at least inspire someone to push for reform in the United States legal system. Tonight I start editing the full picture with my partner in crime, my dear old friend and the astonishingly talented editor – Laura Alexander.

Whiteboard ideas

Brainstorming “Youth Without Youth” In The Conference Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons Learned

Before my internship began, I had a very basic knowledge of filming equipment. My 6 weeks at Loyola were a fantastic training period. I started off needing to be guided every step of the way in order to set up a full studio. You can imagine the feeling of liberation I had when I was able to set up all filming equipment in the studio by myself. Only film students will understand this feeling. It’s the same feeling you get when you drive a car alone for the first time –  I felt like a proper adult!
I realised quickly by answering the phones from other production companies in Hollywood, that I’m probably working at the only one where kindness and respect was expected on every level in the team. If you ever have to answer a call from another producer, don’t take their generally brash and dismissive demeanor personally. I was told they’re cruel to everyone.

My desire to enjoy my trip as well as make the most of my internship forced me to create a work/life balance for the first time in my life. I’ve taken this concept for granted in the past. It was wonderful being able to decompress at the end of the work day without feeling like I’d sacrificed one important aspect of my life for another. Try it! It’s highly recommended (by me.)

I know we all have different methods of learning and I feel I’ve discovered a new one in this experience. Watching professionals critiquing each other is extremely helpful. I overheard (eavesdropped) on Erik critiquing another editor one morning. I made a note of his comments and have found myself implementing little pieces of advice here and there in my own work.

Studio set up

Setting up in the studio by myself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outsider

One of the challenges I anticipated I would face was integrating into a community where everyone already knows each other, leaving me feeling like an outsider. I was worried my sense of humour would be misunderstood (I’m a bit weird) so I felt quite shy and reserved in the beginning. But the team and I found common ground in our humour. I should take this moment as an opportunity to thank everyone who laughed at my jokes – especially when they weren’t funny. Which was often.

 

Living Los Angeles

There are a lot of…interesting…characters in Los Angeles. People can be very warm and vindictive at the same time. The city does that – it offers two extremes on every matter you can think of. For all its dark sides – and to be honest in Los Angeles there are many – there is plenty to make up for it. Los Angeles is FUN. Especially if you’re over 21

I can’t think of a moment on my entire trip where I felt bored or disinterested. There’s so much going on in this city and if you’re here, take advantage of its brighter qualities. The beaches are incredible, Zuma being my favourite. The restaurants have some strange dishes on the menu. Thanks to peer pressure, I tried them, and they were deeeee-licious. And every now and then the Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosts a movie night under the stars. Only in Hollywood would this be an event. My point is – there’s always something going on in Los Angeles.

I spent a bit of time with colleagues outside of work and they went out of their way to accommodate me and my tastes without my knowledge. Michael and John took me to the Culver City Hotel, a place where the Munchkins from Wizard of Oz stayed.  I was very touched by that and I had a brilliant time.

Street art

Los Angeles street art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluttonous Monster

In hindsight, there are several things I would have done differently. I would have spent more time outside of the office with my colleagues. They’re kind souls and 6 weeks was not enough time for me to have with them. Another component I would have liked to have done better was work on my time management skills. There were certain tasks I was handed that I feel I could have spent less time on where as other tasks deserved more of my attention and didn’t get an adequate amount of it. Separately, I want to reiterate how good the food was in Los Angeles. It was a culinary kingdom and I was a gluttonous monster. The first couple of days, the team all recommended food I had to try and this extended to my entire 6-week greasy dietary habits. Thanks team.
So in hindsight – don’t try the food they tell you to try. You’ll love it too much.

Exhibition

Teamwork

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections

When I look back, I still feel incredibly lucky and thoroughly undeserving of this opportunity. At one point, Father Eddie apologised for not having more tasks prepared for my internship. I was incredibly surprised to hear that as at that point (end of week 3) I had gotten so much more out of it than I could have imagined. With all honesty, every single day there was both educational and inspiring. I had days where I felt exhausted, but never underwhelmed or disappointed. I wish I could express to the team how much they’ve advanced me both personally and professionally in those 6 short weeks, as I can tell they have no idea. I feel as if there’s a massive difference between the filmmaker I use to be and the filmmaker I am now. Let’s hope that’s a good thing. I’ve also made friendships I cherish deeply in a short space of time. To put it simply, the Insight Festival and the Jesuit community has made me a lucky, lucky lady.