Courtesy Angie-Pepper O’Bomsawin
Unpaid internships have been a career-limiting problem for many individuals looking for hands-on experience in their field. Angie Pepper O’Bomsawin is hoping to change that, with a rare opportunity for a beginner filmmaker or director to work as her mentee on-set in a fully financed, four-episode internship on the set of Aboriginal Peoples Television Network’s (APTN) Spirit Talker in Calgary.
“It really is a great opportunity,” said O’Bomsawin. “More of us are starting to include paid internships in our budgets so that we can help establish more creatives within the industry that are Native.”
The internship pays a $200 per day honorarium to the chosen candidate and covers all costs associated with travel to Calgary for filming. Food will be paid for, as well as accommodation in a hotel.
There are two blocks the intern can choose from, either from November 14 to December 6, or from January 20 until February 10 (subject to change).
Spirit Talker follows Mi’kmaq medium Shawn Leonard across Turtle Island as he visits Indigenous communities to share hope and healing by connecting the living and the dead. The show is one of APTN’s highest rated shows and has been sold internationally.
O’Bomsawin noted that candidates should be prepared for the emotional nature of the series.
“It is really heavy content,” she said. “The days are quite long, we do three days in the studio and one day out in the field with the community. That’s four days production days per episode.”
The successful candidate will get the opportunity to shadow O’Bomsawin on-set and in studio, learning more about the director’s role on set as well as the responsibilities of other cast and crew.
The show is hoping to hire an up-and-coming Indigenous director for this role in order to provide mentorship to someone just entering the industry. “This is for somebody who kind of needs that extra push to help elevate their career to that next level,” noted O’Bomsawin.
Unpaid internships are notorious in the entertainment industry, and are still extremely common even in large companies. By not offering pay to young talent, companies often miss out on hiring some of the best creatives just because they are unable to work for free.
“I’m a director, writer, and a producer, and we’re constantly trying to stack our team with more Indigenous representation,” said O’Bomsawin. “You wouldn’t believe how unbelievably difficult that is. Our industry is growing extremely fast in terms of Indigenous content, Indigenous artists, and Indigenous storytelling. And unfortunately we don’t have the crews and the creatives to meet the demands.”
Too often, interns will be left broke and struggling after completing an unpaid internship. This obviously doesn’t give them the best chance at success, no matter how impactful their internship experience has been.
“They end up struggling,” said O’Bomsawin. “They should be paid for the service that they are providing.”
Candidates should ensure they are available for either the November – December dates, or for the January – February dates, and should email a resume as well as a letter of intent to O’Bomsawin at email@example.com.
The letter of intent should give O’Bomsawin an indication of the kind of experience they have thus far, their intentions in the industry, and what their goals are for the internship. “I want to have an understanding of how this is going to help them elevate their career,” said O’Bomsawin.
“This is really about trying to get people over that hump, to break into the industry.”