Be Your Own Hero
By Blake Reading
My passion for film and acting came to me at such a young age that I don’t really know where to start… I remember my Grandmother showing me so many incredible films before I even got halfway through elementary school. She’s a huge reason this all started. One of the films was the first Indiana Jones flick, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was that film that really sparked my desire to enter into this business, and I was only in second grade. I’ve worked every day since that moment shooting and acting in short films, acting in every play I could audition for, and constantly coming up with new characters in order to become successful in this industry, but I’ll jump to more recent happenings for the sake of time.
One of the reasons I decided to come to Syracuse University was because of the SULA program. It was an opportunity I couldn’t let slip away. I got to ‘Cuse and was making films, I was acting like I always have been while taking classes, but it just wasn’t real enough. I didn’t want to wait to come out here to Los Angeles, so I applied to an internship with FilmEngine Entertainment summer of sophomore year and jump started my LA experience by working out here with the producers of The Rum Diary and Black Hawk Down. That summer I was also blessed to become Matt Damon’s double in the film Promised Land and acted alongside Kristen Bell in The Lifeguard. I returned to Syracuse that fall and felt like something was missing. I wasn’t in LA. I wasn’t able to do anything so far away from this city, so to keep me busy outside of class while I waited for SULA to roll around over a year later I formed my own profitable production company, Alpha Entertainment using the knowledge and skills from my internship with a fellow VPA Film student.
Months later, SULA registration has finally rolled around I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I ran across campus to get forms signed and delivered with an excitement I hadn’t felt since I had last been in Los Angeles working. When it came time to apply for internships for the program, I didn’t want to be with some small production company in an office plaza. I wanted to work for a major power producer on a major studio lot. I applied to multiple different internships and received interviews with all of them. I ended up taking one with Lorenzo di Bonaventura’s office on the Paramount Pictures lot. If you haven’t heard of him and his company of very people, then you’ve definitely heard of their films. They produce the Transformers, GI Joe, and RED franchises, along with Salt, Side Effects, Shooter, Four Brothers, and the upcoming Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit film. It has been truly amazing working with them. The standard intern duties at other companies are present here, such as covering scripts, doing research, and answering phones. Speaking of answering phones, when you work for a company like this, you never know who may be calling. I’ve picked up the phone and Bruce Willis or Keanu Reeves is on the line. It’s just part of the fun in it.
Over the past month, a few of the producer’s assistants have left town and I’ve taken over for them, which has been an even better perk of this job. I love the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with and not a day goes by that I wake up hating the fact that I have to drive to the Paramount lot. It’s very bittersweet that the semester is ending in just a few days and I have to say goodbye, but I look forward to some much needed rest and relaxation. I’ve been shooting my senior thesis film while going to class and working for di Bonaventura, so winter break is calling my name.
My message to future SULA students: Don’t waste a single opportunity thrown your way when you get out here. Take every chance you can to move your career forward, no matter how miniscule a task may be at its start. No one starts out as the chairman of Paramount. The SULA program is just another step towards your goal of success if not your first. I’ll leave you with this quote from Will Smith, which I believe applies to everyone’s careers and why you need to take advantage of every opportunity you find in your internship: “You don’t try to build a wall. You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid.’ You do that every single day, and soon you have a wall.” Those first bricks are your internship.