A Padawan in the Making

Since September of 2011, I have had an internship at Bryn Mawr Film Institute (BMFI), a non-profit art house movie theater located on Bryn Mawr Avenue.

“But Mike, how did you procure such an awesome internship?”

Well, person-entirely-created-by-my-own-imagnination-to-ask-that-question, I’ll tell you!

For a few years running, I had been taking classes at BMFI; the courses ranged from studies on Superhero and Clint Eastwood’s films, to the Language of Cinema. Having a long-standing interest in film, this was a perfect outlet to delve deeper into the medium and look past what is directly shown on screen.

Then, there comes the time in life when the sentence, “I should get a job” becomes less fantasy-based and takes a much firmer step into concrete reality.

However, I felt interning at a film institute would be both more enjoyable and beneficial than a “regular” job.

So I emailed the director of education, Andrew Douglas, who had taught many of the courses I had taken, and told him I was interested in an internship.

He responded asking if I could send in a resume and a sample of my writing. This is when the beauty of previous activities at OC comes in handy; last year, we had worked over the course of a few weeks to craft resumes for mock-job interviews.

Slightly revising the resume and attaching an essay I had written on the themes of the short story, “The Most Dangerous Game”, I punched the “send” button like I was initiating the very first mission to the moon. Andrew responded a few days later asking that I come in for an interview. Bingo.

Cut (if I may use movie terminology) to now. I have been interning every Monday and Wednesday, from 9:30 to 3:30, with a generous lunch break. I plan on cutting down to just Wednesday due to the lack of time I already have to cram school and college work into the rest of my week.

My work ranges from writing blurbs for upcoming films and press releases, to finding pictures for the website, to mailing letters and photocopying, to cataloging DVD’s and books, to uploading future events to other websites, to scanning newspaper after newspaper searching for mention of the institute.

The work can be tedious at times, but thankfully, not only can I listen to my iPod while working, but the staff is both hilarious and extremely kind and helpful.

I take all my assignments from the public relations manager, Devin Wachs. To extremely briefly sum her up, she often refers to me as, “Padawan”; walking into my workspace, she’ll often start the conversation with a sentence such as “How’s my Padawan learner doing?” or “How’s my favorite intern?” (I am, in fact, the only intern at BMFI currently).

Interning at BMFI has been a great opportunity to get both a feel for more independent work, along with a glance at the inner workings of an institution and movie theater . . . not to mention free movies!

A long needed break

In my experience, at some point in all our lives, we need a break. Some time to relax and recover. Thankfully, around the later days of December, even trickling into the first few days of January, many of us get the opportunity to do just that.

I say opportunity rather than implying we are granted a break simply because I think there are ways to botch some time off. Not to say there is a right way to go about your relaxation, just that you can sometimes realize you didn’t make the fullest of your break (as ironic as that may be).

My break was a healthy mixture of film, music, video games, and reading, all amalgamating in a four day trip to Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.

Soon after break began, I took the slightly long yet comfortingly familiar trip to my friend Jamie’s house, where our friend Niko was also staying. There, the hours were whiled away playing music and Supersmash Bros: Brawl. There are few things as exciting and relaxing as really clicking while jamming with friends (as I have previously stated).

This+music? What else could you want?

At one point, while reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and listening to people play Left 4 Dead, I heard the thumping of a drum kit accompanied by an electric guitar from the basement. Dropping what I was doing, I found Niko and Jamie in the middle of their own take on Against Me!’s (AM!) “Violence”; arriving just as the chorus hit, I picked up my red Takamine in time to play the post-chorus riff as Jamie took rhythm. We spent the next hour playing vastly different versions of AM! songs.

The film highlight of my break must be granted to not one, but two viewings (a feat which I was told, made me “insane” due to the graphic and heavy nature of the film) of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, director David Fincher’s latest.

Once home, I spent the rest of my Christmas break playing L.A. Noire, watching numerous films, and reading. The ultimate teenage relaxation. After Christmas, Niko and Jamie came over, and, after loading up the car, we left with the rest of my family for Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.

With an entire ground floor to ourselves, there was far from a shortage to do: A pool table, a stereo-system with iPod compatibility, a refrigerator freshly stocked with soda and Chai tea, a flat-screen TV accompanied by a CD case full of movies, and yes, even a hot tub. It was truly lounging paradise.

Problems seemed miles away; a concern not something to fret about, only brought up when being discussed casually and rationally in front of the fireplace or during a game of pool. Though most time was spent relaxing, we had a day of inspiration.

Subsequent to a discussion about a film we have had in the works off-and-on since the summer, a prologue synopsis was suddenly written by Jamie. We had an unexpected burst of energy. The next day was devoted to finding locations and filming. Ideas were changed, shots were taken again and again, land was covered, and hands were cold. Finally, after settling into the hot tub late in the day, we realized that all we had needed was the time off to let our minds get into the right place. A break.

In sum, it was beautifully put by Niko, “you know life is good when all you have to worry about is getting into the hot tub on time.”

Cheers to the new year!

Longwood Gardens

Ever since I was a wee baby, I have been going to be a magical and wonderful place called Longwood Gardens. In fact, it was the destination of my very first outing in the world (not including the ride home from the hospital, obviously).

Regardless of the time of year, there are always beautiful sights to take in atLongwood Gardens 

Hosting 1,077 acres of breath-taking scenery, it is one of the premier botanical gardens in the US. On top of the endless naturalistic allure while strolling the gardens, there are also an assortment of themed events such as a firework show or multi-colored water fountain display set to music and concerts.

The second I step into the visitor’s center, partially under a hill that borders a section of the massive property, there’s always a feeling of excitement in my gut. I have gone to Longwood Gardens once a year at the very least for all eighteen years of my life, yet the experience never tires.

Walking wrapped in scarf and coat on the beautifully snow-covered ground, the magnificently lit trees gleaming in the cold winter months before taking refuge in the grand (and heated) conservatory is just as magical as it was when I was six.

During the summer, fountains are alive all over the grounds while a beautiful waterfall rushes past a chimes tower by a ledge of rocks. The Eye of Water flows freely, accepting all penny donations, and the Catfish glide happily in their pond, waiting to ripple the waters as their heads pop up to take food from kneeling visitors.

Longwood Gardens is one of the few places I have been on Earth that I can describe with full confidence as magical. With every visit, I am swept back into the feeling of childhood wonderment and excitement mingled with a bittersweet happiness as I think about the years going by . . . not to be sentimental.

So, if you’re in Pennsylvania and want to take a step into the enchanting, you have to look no further.