By Tyler Cunningham

When I was little, my neighborhood video store had a funny policy regarding R-rated films. You weren’t allowed to rent one if you were under 18, but it was tough for the cashiers to know which films were R-rated as their rating would not appear on their computer when the barcode was scanned. This meant that the only way you would be turned away was if the DVD had an “R” clearly printed somewhere on the disc. And as a kid determined to beat the system, I quickly grew a fondness for studios that didn’t print ratings on the discs. For a while, Fox was the only studio I could consistently rely on to aid and abet my underage viewing. But then one fateful day in 2006, I happened upon a film entitled Transamerica. This was during the height of my Housewives fever and Felicity Huffman’s face on the DVD cover was nothing short of a siren song. I was only halfway through reading the synopsis when I spotted it – a disc void of anything but a cute title design a little studio logo that I didn’t recognize: three little spotlights, shining upward to make a “W.” What was this strange “Weinstein Company” and did they know they were answering a young boy’s prayers by not including ratings on their discs?  I took the R-rated film and went happily on my way, unaware of how much the story would affect me and inform the coming out process I would inevitably face in my later adolescence.

The impact of this first film and their enabling disc design endeared me to The Weinstein Company, and I have closely followed their catalogue since. So when the opportunity to intern for the company rose, I immediately said yes. The experience has been very hands-on, as my fellow interns and I are responsible for covering submissions with a great deal of our coverage being forwarded directly to executives. There was never any busy work and everyone we reported was welcoming, appreciative and really made us feel a part of the team.

The highlight of the entire experience came a few weeks ago when the office was busy preparing for the first major screening of Quentin Tarantino’s new film, The Hateful Eight. The screening was being held at the Director’s Guild with a guest list that appeared to be pretty tight. Overhearing this, I chose to not make a fuss and ask if there was room for interns, despite being a Tarantino megafan. But just as I was leaving for the day, one of the office PAs stopped me and asked if I’d like to go to the screening. Dreams do come true, boys and girls. The film was shown on a gorgeous 70mm print and was arguably the greatest viewing experience I’ll ever have. Afterwards, Tarantino himself spoke to the audience for an hour about his creative process and how the film came to be. It was surreal to be in the same room as him, let alone hear a living legend speak so frankly and deeply about his process. To say I left that night feeling inspired is the ultimate understatement – it was the type of experience that all at once reinvigorates your ambition and reminds you of why you fell in love with storytelling in the first place. And with graduation rapidly approaching, it could not have happened at a better time.

It’s funny how full-circle it feels to be interning for TWC after years of loving their work. The experience was everything I could have hoped for and one I would recommend to future SULA students interested in film development.