Getting Way Way Ahead
Willa Davis '15 explores the film industry through summer internship
September 6, 2013
On the Sony Pictures lot, Willa Davis '15 (second from right) poses with other summer interns in a promotional cardboard cutout from the film "The Way Way Back."
This summer, Willa Davis '15 worked at OddLot Entertainment, the Los Angeles production company behind such films as Rabbit Hole, Drive, The Way Way Back and the adaptation of the popular book Ender's Game. As a production and development intern, the political science/English dual major spent her days reading scripts and writing detailed reports on them, which were then used by the development team when sifting through potential projects.
How did you land your spot with OddLot?
During my fall semester in 2012, I took a class on Geoffrey Chaucer with Professor Tom Reed, and Benjamin Stephen '12 e-mailed Professor Reed about an opportunity to intern at OddLot. [Stephen was an OddLot intern the previous summer.] I thought it sounded interesting, and because my older brother lives in Los Angeles, I figured that I could probably work out a living situation over the summer if I were to get the position at OddLot.
I had a phone interview and was required to complete sample script coverage, which includes reading a script, writing a plot summary and providing commentary on various aspects of the story and the writing.
What's it like in L.A., compared to where you grew up?
I'm from Grass Valley, Calif., which is about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento. I didn't realize what a small, rural town I had been raised in until I lived in L.A.—it was not uncommon for me to sit in a Starbucks full of hipsters and urbanites reading movie scripts. I really enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the city, but it was nice to return home toward the end of the summer.
Is film something you were really interested before, or did you get the internship to explore it?
Even after living in California my entire life, film was never something I had seen myself doing. Honestly, I had no idea what working at a production company entailed, nor did I have much background in film, so this was a really great and interesting learning experience. I've come to see that learning to write well is an essential skill in any profession, and I want to keep pushing myself to further develop my thought process and overall understanding of the world in both political and theoretical terms.
How have things you've learned at Dickinson helped you navigate this world?
Studying at Dickinson has completely changed my view of the world. In the past two years, I feel as if I have learned more than I did in my previous 13 years of schooling. Through a combination of English and political science classes, professors have truly opened my mind in so many ways. Both majors are very rich in material and have pushed me to think in ways I never would have conceived during my time in high school.
Did your time with OddLot make you want to steer your career into the industry?
At this point, I'm not quite sure of what career path I'd like to pursue. If I were to further delve into the film industry, I would want to explore the legal side of things and perhaps work as an entertainment lawyer.
Living in L.A. this past summer also lead me toward many lively discussions about fashion and, inevitably, L.A. fashion events. So I've become interested in pursuing an editorial position at a fashion magazine. In essence, I still have several different career paths in mind.
Did you read any scripts that you knew right away would make great movies?
Over the course of two months, I probably read 15 scripts, some of which were TV pilots. Being able to discern between scripts that will and will not be purchased by a production company is not always easy because every company looks to market specific stories and is, for the most part, required to stick to a fixed budget. There were several times that I felt as if I were watching a story from within the pages, versus being stuck outside as an onlooker, but these were not always stories that OddLot was looking to develop.
What is your favorite movie, and why?
I think that my new favorite film is Anna Karenina—Tom Stoppard's adaptation of the novel. In a world filled with special effects and postapocalyptic narratives, I was excited to see a film that wanted less to do with gray, morbid settings and more to do with character development.
What is the first movie you can ever remember seeing?
The first movie I recall watching is The Lion King in 1994. I have a vivid memory of Simba being held up to the sun on Pride Rock.
And finally, what was your favorite part about your summer, OddLot or not?
My favorite part was living in a city and, essentially, working as an "adult." Having the opportunity to live away from home and be independent was challenging, but also amazing. I had the chance to learn about a variety of jobs within the film industry, of which I had no previous understanding. At this point, I have a much better idea of the different paths that I can take in the next few years.
Dickinson's other 2013 summer internships
Dickinson's summer global programs