Summer Internship Series: The Summer of Steve (Carousel Productions)

Francesca Mouery ’19
Development Intern, Carousel Productions, Los Angeles, California

Summer internship series: the summer of steve (carousel productions) - screen-shot-2017-09-08-at-2.15.38-pm-1.png image #0Many people may daydream about what it would be like to work for Michael Scott, the lovable, but ridiculous character from the acclaimed show, The Office. But looking back… I quite literally did. And here’s how it all played out.

Before I get into the nitty gritty of my summer internship story, I should probably introduce myself. My name is Francesca Mouery, a current Junior, Theatre Major, and Creative Writing Minor at Denison University. This past summer I had the incredible opportunity of interning at Carousel Productions, which is more widely known as Steve Carell’s television/film production company. My official title was a Development Intern and I specifically helped out substantially with writing coverage for potential television and film pilots being submitted to the Carousel office for potential development. Though coverage was a big part of my daily grind, I also helped out with a variety of other tasks within the production company and got the time to learn worthwhile skills that I could utilize, as I plan to plunge head-first into the Los Angeles entertainment industry after graduating from our “Fair College on The Hill”.As an intern, one may get the impression of the ever-present intern stereotype spread widely among all career paths and areas of work. Interns are:

                • There to make the coffee. Or to faithfully pick up the very specific, not-at-all-hard- to-remember drink orders from the local Starbucks on the corner
                • There to clean the office space; the thought that interns are like little Wall-E robots that clean up everything in sight to keep the community kitchen spick and span.
                • There to be treated unfairly or bossed around doing things. How mean!

Though I did encounter the occasional “intern moment”, overall, my internship experience could not be further from the stereotype. At Carousel, I was encouraged to ask questions, come up with new and exciting ways to approach my work, and to learn the ropes of the wonderful, but sometimes cut-throat world of entertainment. And with all the moments, the ups and downs and all arounds… I loved every moment.

From day one, my wonderful and inspiring supervisor, Kiran Subramaniam, and production company higher-ups, Campbell Smith and Kate Zabinsky, treated me as a professional equal, valuing my work from the very beginning. For that, and so much more, I am thankful for their guidance, respect, and the experience. I learned that being an intern does not have to mean being bossed around or rudely chastised for trying to learn. Instead, my experience at the production company was very educational. Everything I didn’t know, I asked about and was told happily. Everything I knew was built up to be even better than I originally brought forth. Though not all entertainment companies are this straightforwardly educational and Carousel was still very professionally serious, my process to integrate myself into the entertainment world was welcomed rather than being drowned out by competitive nature and a need to put others down.

Summer internship series: the summer of steve (carousel productions) - screen-shot-2017-09-08-at-2.16.19-pm-150x150.png image #1As an actress and a creative writer, I got to grow in every facet of my creative self. A typical day at work would include me picking up an onion bagel and a matcha latte from the next door Whole Foods (which was actually 50 steps away from my office), coming in early to clean the kitchen and prep the office space (out of choice, not because I had to), and to read the daily entertainment trades online to find relevant articles for the company. Then, I specifically had to read scripts all day, write comprehensive summaries and reviews of them, and had to give my God-honest opinions. It was a lot of time and effort at work, but the opportunity to read other working writer’s work and to even envision myself playing roles in the scripts I read was worthwhile to learn what I saw as inspiring creative work and to come to the realization that there are so many stories to be told that never get picked up by production companies. It’s a harsh reality. I learned that precision, development, and creativity comes into play full force when trying to get a television show or film picked up by a production company. But, once a script strikes a chord with a group of people… then you’ve got something.

Let me also tell a very important story about connections. You know how President Weinberg always says, so thoughtfully and often, that “Relationships run deep here at Denison”? Well, let me tell you… He could not be more on point about the sentiment. I had discovered Denison University after looking up where my favorite actors/actresses went for their college experiences. Lo and behold, Steve Carell went to Denison. Though skeptical, and really thinking I was dead-set on going to a conservatory acting program, I visited Denison on the sheer whim that Steve Carell went there (and the campus looked devastatingly beautiful). After visiting the campus, I knew it was the place for me. How could you resist the Fall leaves and the Denison Deer and chipmunks?

Flash forward to the near-end of my Sophomore year. I was starting late to look for a summer internship though I had wanted one desperately. The rest of my year had been taken up by writing, producing, and directing my very first full-length show and slew of health issues… So stress was in full bloom. One of my sorority sisters, the very talented Erin Dunlap (’17), ended up meeting with me to talk about her experience interning in L.A, which happened to be at Carousel. Though I was looking for guidance and for stories that would solidify my yearning to work in Los Angeles, I ended up making a contact with one of my very good friends that ultimately ended up leading to applying for Carousel Productions. I am forever thankful for getting the opportunity to work at such an amazing place and for getting to work alongside The Man, The Myth, The Michael Scott himself, Steve Carell. I even got to meet him in all his glory; a sweet and down-to-earth Denisonian. I feel like my Denison journey came full circle in an unexpected, but meaningful way in the regard.

My connections continued throughout my internship, as I was interning alongside 8 other people, all different ages, and at different points in their careers. My internship taught me teamwork and compromise, especially when we all decided to work on our final film project, filming, acting, and producing our very own “Spaghetti Western” film at Paramount Ranch (and old Hollywood Wild West set, turned park in Malibu). One of my friends loved cinematography. Another friend just wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry in any way she could. I have made friendships and connections with these people on a deep level that I will take with me after I leave Denison.

I have to thank everybody at Carousel Productions who made my summer the best one yet. Kiran Subramaniam, Campbell Smith, and Kate Zabinsky (and her dog, Tuck), are amazing human beings who work so hard in an industry that most often does not highlight women’s writing and work. Of course, I must thank Steve Carell, for letting me intern at his wonderful company. He is very talented in so many ways, not just being “that funny guy on The Office” or “the robber guy from Despicable Me”. I also have to thank everybody who shared the office with me (as well as the other interns): The Queen Sugar cast, the writers for potential development, etc. You guys made this summer the most magical and let me run with my passions full force.
So… the takeaways of my experience interning? Always take the extra steps to know that you care during your internship. Come in early. Offer help even when you aren’t asked. Search early for internships. Though I ended up landing my dream internship, I almost lucked out. The early bird gets the worm. Relationships do run deep at Denison. Cherish them and nurture them. Make those connections that mean the most to you, personally and professionally. And finally, find a career path that makes your heart happy and your mind at ease. Find your passions and your interests and run with that.