The issue of identity has the power to not only influence art but our professional aspirations as well. Graduate producing student Akemi Okamura was able to explore her identity as a female filmmaker – and her passion for development – through her summer internship with Denise Di Novi Pictures.

Akemi Okamura (second from left) meets with 1st AD Marian de Pontes (MFA/FP ’19) (third from left) and the sound team of A SOLITARY COLOR, filmed on Sound Stage B.

How did you find your internship?
I found my internship through Barbara Doyle, who not only heads up Dodge’s College to Career Program but is also one of our producing faculty. Through the conversations I’ve had with Barbara over the past year, she knew that I was interested in development internships and Di Novi seemed like it might help further my knowledge about the development world.

Di Novi sounded like a great place to intern this summer because they have a large breadth of work, and the opportunity to work for a female-run production company was exciting. One of the reasons I want to go into producing is to increase the diversity and representation of women and people of color in film – and getting to spend the summer working for a company run by women has been a wonderful learning experience.

Akemi Okamura (left) and 2nd AD Kevin Wang (MFA/FTP ’19) review the schedule for the Chapman film A Solitary Color.

What is a typical day at your internship?
A typical day usually includes script coverage and occasionally some kind of research. I typically read and write coverage for two scripts a day, and have also read a couple of books. The scripts are either ones to be considered or samples of a writer’s work. Research topics run the gamut and are always a lot of fun – you never know what has potential to be made into a movie.

What is the highlight of your internship?
The highlight of my internship has been getting to learn from Di Novi’s president, Margaret French Isaac. She took the time to meet with each of the interns at the start of the summer to learn about who we are and what we’re each interested in. From there, she’s given us the opportunity to sit in on meetings and listen in on calls. Getting to hear a professional in her element do her thing and simply observe has been incredibly educational. So much of producing is communicating and connecting people, and this internship has reaffirmed that.

What courses, professors or skills learned at Dodge are most helpful in your internship?
Honestly, pretty much everything that Barbara Doyle and Donna Roth have ever taught me has been incredibly helpful in my internship. From the Production Workshops that Barbara taught last year and Donna’s Overview of Producing class last fall, so much of what we covered set the foundation for me to build upon as I’ve ventured out into the professional world. They’re both great at making sure that we realize that we’re not only making films here at Dodge, but that everything we do should also prepare us for life after graduation. They’re both incredibly supportive and knowing that I can go to them for anything is wonderful.

What advice would you offer your fellow students?
I would say that no matter what you do, show up, be present, and be inquisitive. You never know what you’re going to learn or experience, and all of it, good, bad, or in between, can help inform the kind of person and filmmaker that you want to be. We’re lucky to get to do what we love, and I would say that it’s important to remember that. If it were easy, everyone would do it.

Additional internships include working with the development team at Branded Pictures Entertainment.

This article was originally published in our Fall 2018 In Production Magazine. This issue focuses on exploring identity through filmmaking, alumni honing their skills on the latest CFE production, Chapman’s third Student Academy Award-win, and a spotlight on our Screenwriting program. Check out the full magazine on issuu