Former Intern Aubrey Gallegos shares her experiences behind the scenes in POV’s Community Engagement and Education Department during POV’s 2011 season.
When I moved to New York City at the beginning of this year to work in film, I only had a vague idea of what I was looking for. I’d been working in environmental education since graduating from college with a degree in film, and I now wanted to use film as a tool for education and social change. I just wasn’t sure what that meant. A friend recommended I apply to be an intern at POV, and it was immediately clear that POV is nestled in the niche of social issues, film and education. The decision was an easy one.
I joined the Community Engagement and Education Department, working alongside Jamie Dobie and Amanda Nguyen, Community Engagement and Education Coordinators, and Eliza Licht, Director of Community Engagement and Education. My day-to-day work ranged from sending screening packages to our community partners across the country, to updating our social networks and inputting audience evaluations to helping develop and edit the discussion guides and resource materials for each film.
During the summer season, a large part of my internship consisted of researching and reaching out to organizations that might be interested in hosting a free community screening. The night before my first day of calls I sat in my apartment and called my mom over and over while she dutifully played everything from an eager programmer to a busy and disgruntled executive.
This community outreach, or “Tune-In,” as we call it, became one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of my internship. Some of the people I called simply listened politely, others enthusiastically applied for a screening, but every once in a while there would be someone who wanted to share how they saw their own story reflected in the film. When Enemies of the People aired I spoke with a woman who survived the killing fields in Cambodia. With Sweetgrass, I chatted with sheep ranchers who interspersed our conversation with the pros and cons of different types of wool. I talked with chefs who wanted to inspire their students for Kings of Pastry. When we aired Where Soldiers Come From, I heard from a veteran of the Afghanistan war who was using art as therapy for war veterans.
There’s no easy way to quantify the effect that POV films have, but speaking on the phone with people who have lived the stories on the screen, I do know this at the least: These films provide a voice to more than just those we see on screen. Maybe they also incite social change, raise awareness and effect policy. Maybe they don’t. But holding a phone in my hand and hearing the resonance of memories in people’s voices and strain of passion about issues they live everyday but feel so few are aware of, there’s no way you could convince me that documentaries aren’t important.
When I left POV it was with a sense that I hadn’t had enough. I’ve worked on film sets and explored as many aspects of film in New York City as I could, but nothing drew me back on as many levels as POV, and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to return as a part-time employee. Stories need to be told. Changes need to be made. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that opens avenues for both.
My internship with POV was a huge learning experience and one that helped me not only develop skills but also clarify what I’m looking for, what I have to offer, and how that fits in to a bigger picture.
POV accepts applicants for internships year round in many departments: Community Engagement & Education, Development, Digital and Programming & Production. To find out more and to apply for a POV Internship, visit pov.org/internships.