The Producer and the Intern

by Mary Bartlett

Sarah Fisher

The offices of Endgame Entertainment Company in Beverly Hills buzz with excitement. That’s because working in the film industry is, let’s face it, fun. Demanding, high-charged fun — with a big dose of glamour.

The reason Endgame produces both good films and good fun owes much to its chief operating officer, Cindy Wilkinson Kirven ’78. She creates an atmosphere of collaboration and good cheer, making sure the creative group (writers, directors, coproducers, editors) are in sync with the lawyers and financial team so that no one is blindsided during any phase of production or post. Meetings are face-to-face or by Skype when the creative team is on location.

Endgame practically swarms with interns, all eager to learn the business. Kirven oversees the intern program, which takes up to 12-15 current college students each year and brings them directly into the process: from reading and giving scripts a “pass” or “recommend” to listening in on phone discussions with directors and line producers to learning special film biz phone lingo. For instance, when they “sit a desk” during lunch or when an assistant is out at a screening or meeting, they might say, “I don’t have Joe now, may I have him return?” “The language can be a show in itself,” says Kirven.

Sarah Fisher, a Scripps senior majoring in media studies, received one of these highly desirable internships as a junior, after seeing it listed on Career Planning & Resource’s Gateway. The experience cemented her desire to be a film producer on the creative side. Fisher is the second Scripps student hired; Helen Huang ’11 was the first.

In fall semester 2011, Fisher worked two days a week at Endgame. For Looper, the 2012 Bruce Willis film, she watched the editing of the confidential cut and was entrusted with rushing it to a producer catching a plane at LAX. For Side Effects, directed by Steven Soderberg and released this February, she compiled stats on how previous films involving the creative team and talent did at the box office. She gave the information to Kirven to analyze and use to decide if Endgame would finance the film.

“Cindy always made sure I understood what was going on, especially the financial side. I left with much more knowledge than I came in with,” she said. “I was a good writer, and fast, so I was given more responsibilities than some of the others.”

Fisher currently holds another internship at Lionsgate in Hollywood, working on unscripted TV reality shows, and is thinking of life after Scripps.

She has a tough choice: take an assistant job anywhere and for anyone in the industry, or take the “set” route: a job on a set or studio for a particular film production. The latter jobs are “all freelance and not stable,” she says. “They hire almost immediately before production, not months in advance.”

For the next few months, she’s happy to be at Scripps, while her twin sister is at Smith. “Scripps was perfect for me,” she says. “A women’s school appealed to me, and it gave me more confidence speaking in class.” She also wanted to be close to L.A. and the film industry.

She can take heart from the experience of Huang, who found a job after graduation at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) a prominent entertainment and sports agency in Los Angeles.

Whatever opportunities lie ahead for Fisher, she has the experience and the confidence to take a creative leap forward.


« »