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Developing your feature: UCM student returns from Hollywood internship

Graduate student Jacque Flanagan, a digital media production alumni and a former editor of the Muleskinner, gave a presentation Sep. 25 titled “Developing Your Feature,” where she discussed her summer internship in Los Angeles with director Anika Tourse.

Flanagan received an opportunity for this internship while working on the UCM Show Me Justice Film Festival last year. Tourse is a filmmaker whose body of work has a strong social justice focus. During the festival, Tourse presented her short film “America; I Too.”

Afterward, Flanagan drove Tourse to the airport. On the way, she talked about her career goals with Tourse. Flanagan said she hopes to become a producer. During their conversation, Flanagan got the offer to work for Tourse over the summer. She took the offer and spent six weeks in Los Angeles.

“This summer I went out there and I got the chance to learn about distribution and development and how to network with other people, which are all the focus on my next three presentations,” Flanagan said. “This first one though, I’m really focusing on the development stage, which is the earliest stage that you can really get, where the idea is really born.”

This was Flanagan’s first presentation. She plans to give two more over the semester, once a month. One will cover distribution and the other will cover marketing.

In Los Angeles, Flanagan worked on “America; I Too,” along with Tourse’s movie currently in development, “America’s Family.” Both movies are a part of Tourse’s “Know Your Rights” series, which informs viewers about the American immigration system.

Flanagan said her internship was stressful at times. Flanagan also said her internship was a humbling experience. She knew filmmaking was hard work, but she still had no idea how hard filmmaking would really be.

“I had a really hard time,” Flanagan said. “It wasn’t because I was a girl or I’m weak or anything; it’s because I was really growing as a person.”

One of the reasons Flanagan wants to be a producer is because she likes to be organized, which is a huge part of the job.

During her presentation, Flanagan discussed how to propose a film to receive funding, showing a real example from “America’s Family.”

“Always be working on the solution, not the problem,” Flanagan said. “Specifically with producers, you’re paid to figure it out. That’s one thing that was the most practical experience being out there. There were so many things I did that I didn’t know how to do. I had never done them before.

“No one cared that I had never done this before. ‘I don’t know’ was not an acceptable answer.”

Flanagan said the image of Hollywood is romanticized. She said in movies, the place with the glamorous studio buildings is actually Burbank, California and Hollywood itself is filthy because there is trash everywhere and it smells like urine.

Flanagan said she plans on going back to Los Angeles in the future.

“Do I think it was worth it?” Flanagan said. “Absolutely. It’s a life experience like that you rarely have opportunities to do that.”

She said she liked meeting people, especially other filmmakers. She said she enjoyed being called a professional.

“It humbled myself and my idea of the way the world really looked like. It was something that I would never give up,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan gave her presentation in the screening room at Martin 125, where she is scheduled to have her second presentation covering distribution Thursday at 6 p.m.

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