A Former Paramount Studio Intern's Love Letter to Movie Magic

Why I'm Addicted to the Magic of Making Movies

By , Contributor

My First True Love - Paramount Studios

I started my career in this fascinating industry as a Paramount Studios intern 15 summers ago and have loved almost every story telling minute since. Well actually, technically speaking I started it 20 summers ago when I embarked on a baby sitting career for everyone I could possibly find who worked in the movie biz! But back to my more formal training, and why I adore the magic of the movies.

My first bosses at the newly launched Paramount Digital Entertainment (PDE) were tasked with bringing the power of moviemakers to this newfangled tool the Internet. I was assigned an email address - OMG WOW and given the opportunity to work on the brand new EntertainmentTonight.com, MSN.com (Awesome), StarTrek.com (Nerdy Awesome), and Clueless.com (Totally Appropriate).

I transcribed every single Star Trek movie for the new website, ran a contest on Clueless.com, and drove all around Hollywood in my boss' car delivering Entertainment Tonight gift baskets complete with mouse pads and champagne glasses.

The best part of this summer gig was being on a real studio lot. I’ll paint you a picture (with words, cuz that's what I do.) alicia-silverstone.jpg

Imagine a pristine campus the size of ten city blocks with old Spanish style buildings right next to sound stages so massive you could fit two 747s end-to-end. These simple warehouses were filled with fantastic imagination. You could hear the craftsman drilling, building, plastering and molding props into sphinxes, alligators, ancient temples, and futuristic altars.

The commissary bustled with suited executives, costumed actors, some in full Star Trek makeup, ambitious interns, and the occasional on-lot tour of fanny pack, black sock, sandal wearing Europeans.

paramountnystreet.pngThere was an entire fake New York borough at the back of the lot, near the water tower, behind the massive tank and fake sky, next to the fire station. The firemen were definitely very real, and oh so cute. At any moment, I might be walking from one side of the lot to the other and cross paths with a movie star. It was (and still is) a different universe. 

Standing in front of the Academy Awards case on my first day while wearing a bright red Ann Taylor button up dress,  (one should always wear red on the first day of a new gig) I knew I was home.

sony-pictures-studios.jpg

I had a meeting this past week on the Sony Pictures lot and saw quite a few familiar looking young interns driving around in their golf carts with urgent coffee to be delivered or stacks of scripts to be distributed.

Batman is filming at Sony and as I drove away from the arched gates I saw a bunch of people dressed in Batman costumes across the street cheering as people drove in and out.

I recalled how pure this whole thing really is. It's not an Entourage, party with rock stars, treat women poorly, your friend's worse, and burn down houses kinda world. Actually, the entertainment industry is about story telling, inspiring, revealing, playing, escaping, and creating.

Academy Award.jpg

I’ve been obsessed with this industry since I wrote my first play in fourth grade with my best friend, an equally creative and possibly crazy kid named Ben. Our play was about a knight in shining armor, a princess with a boatload of moxie and a dragon that was simply slayed. Our class performed it, and I fell in love with the magic of story telling. I'm still very clearly in love.

Production has changed a great deal in these last 15 years. So has my job actually, but these are both good things. Equipment has become more portable, executives can review daily cuts by way of the now well-developed Internet, and there are a lot of financial incentives to shoot elsewhere. So even if you aren't in Lala Land, you may just have a chance to spot some movie magic being made wherever you reside.
 

Check out my article about what's shooting this summer if you're so inclined! 

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Summers McKay is a surprisingly young Hollywood veteran with a career that started like most future industry moguls careers do - as an intern at Entertainment Tonight. She spent over ten years on the Paramount Studios lot before moving into the world of production in 2006. McKay has produced short films,…

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