Rowan intern takes Hollywood star turn
Rowan intern takes Hollywood star turn
It’s a long way from the East Coast to the West, but much, much farther from college to the heights of Hollywood.
Rowan alumna Sue Kroll is one who made that journey spectacularly: the 1983 Glassboro State College grad is President, Worldwide Marketing & Distribution, for Warner Bros. Pictures, and Rowan this summer launched the Susan Kroll Internship for top Radio, Television and Film majors.
Senior Erin Cahill, 21, of Mt. Laurel, was the inaugural intern and wrote about her summer experience on the aptly titled blog site https://imnotinjerseyanymore.wordpress.com/.
The 10-week paid program, for which Cahill received a $1,000 Rowan stipend, immersed her in Warner Bros.’ production and marketing departments for big-time Hollywood films including the summer blockbuster Suicide Squad and the upcoming Kong: Skull Island, Wonder Woman, and Ben Affleck’s 1920s mob movie Live By Night.
“I wanted to use it to network,” Cahill said of her summer experience. “For me, networking is more about getting to know people than overtly trying to get a job.”
And network she did, working directly and indirectly with some of the biggest players in entertainment including Kroll and Affleck, for whom she served as a production assistant (PA).
Cahill said she met the film icon, who wrote, stars in, and directs Live By Night, when both were outside the historic Hollywood Masonic Temple during a break from filming.
“I was outside and he stepped out to smoke a cigarette,” Cahill said. “He asked me what was going on and he was so casual I almost didn’t recognize him.”
Casual and cool
Though it may seem obvious, Cahill knew that she must not fawn over celebrities, no matter how big the star.
“You just need to treat them like normal people,” she said.
Over the course of the summer, Cahill spent about half her time as an office PA in marketing and about half in production, where she worked closely with Executive Vice President of Physical Production and Finance Ravi Mehta, who is also an executive producer.
Her duties ranged from reading and giving feedback on feature length film scripts to making copies, stocking food on set and making sure all actors and crew members were assigned “call sheets,” informational handouts about their production.
She read scripts for Bradley Cooper’s new film, a remake of A Star is Born, which he wrote, is starring in and making his directorial debut on, and Dax Shepard’s film adaptation of the 1980s TV show CHiPs, in which he’s starring and will direct.
“I really appreciated and loved my boss (Mehta) because he gave me stuff to do and let me just do it,” she said. “He didn’t want an intern and treated me instead as a professional. He liked that I have passion and that I really wanted to learn about the business.”
As a PA in marketing, Cahill worked with Massey Rafani, an executive vice president who reports to Kroll.
“In marketing I observed a lot and learned so much,” she said. “For example, when Massey would meet with vendors on a movie poster they might have 50 poster options or more but the public might only see one.”
She said Kroll, as head of marketing for Warner Bros. films, has final word on all promotions including advertising, posters, trailers and premiers.
“Literally everything that goes out in the world to promote Warner Bros. films goes through her,” Cahill said.
During her time in marketing, Cahill observed the creation of trailers for Kong: Skull Island, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman, the World War II film Dunkirk and Affleck’s Live By Night. And just observing, she said, was an education.
“I had no idea there were so many rules,” she said. “For example, you can’t show blood in a poster or trailer, it has to be brownish. You also can’t show a lot of violence.”
The L.A. scene
A big part of a Hollywood internship is, of course, simply being in Hollywood and Cahill soaked it all in, reveling in the sun, the freedom of being on her own and the very real possibility of a career of her dreams.
Documenting much of it in her blog, Cahill noted learning experiences like living through her first earthquake (she slept through it) and visiting Rodeo Drive (it’s pronounced “Ro-Dey-O”).
She “fell in love” with Warner Bros. as a company, encountered surprisingly common wildlife and experienced world famous Venice Beach. (Read about it!)
While Cahill didn’t work directly for Kroll, Kroll evidently kept track of her progress through Mehta and Rafani, congratulating her on a great summer experience during a private lunch as her internship drew to a close.
Kroll, Cahill said, told her to stay in touch, and she no doubt will.
Writing in her blog, Cahill said she’s certain now that a career in film is for her and that all of her hard work, from classroom studies to participation in campus clubs Cinema Workshop and Rowan Television Network, helped bring her to this point.
“I’ll never forget the feelings I had walking on the lot the first time and being on set and actually fitting in with all of it,” she wrote.
Keith Brand, Chair of the Radio Television and Film Department within the College of Communication & Creative Arts, said Cahill’s experience was exactly what the Sue Kroll Internship was created to be.
“We’re really very excited about it,” Brand said. “Sue Kroll is one of our most distinguished alumni and is very respected throughout Hollywood. Her willingness to set up this internship will offer Rowan students a tremendous opportunity to immerse themselves in the filmmaking industry at Warner Bros.”
The Sue Kroll Warner Bros. Internship is offered annually to a qualified Radio Television and Film major. Students may apply for the internship early in the spring semester. RTF faculty conduct interviews and forward select students to the staff at Warner Bros. who make the final choice. While the program comes with a $1000 travel stipend, students must make their own housing arrangements.