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This summer, I have the privilege of being able to intern at the east coast headquarters of Walden Media, a film studio and publisher that creates family-oriented media content (and successfully, I may add). You may have heard of them. Some of their notable work includes Holes (2001), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe (2005), and the award-winning documentary, Waiting for “Superman” (2010). Walden recently has been making a lot of direct-to-DVD pieces through a partnership with Walmart, and content for the Hallmark’s “Walden Family Theater,” a family program that premieres every Friday night. Other than their more frequent work, Walden collaborates with major studios (20th Century Fox, Paramount) on high-budget blockbuster films, such as the upcoming adaptation of The Giver starring Jeff Bridges (2015, tentative). Walden also is a book publisher – their co-venture with Penguin Publishing has resulted in numerous award-winning books such as Ingrid Law’s Savvy.

While I’ve only been on my internship for about a week now, I’ve already been given a meaningful glimpse into Walden’s flourishing work environment. This is not your typical intern experience. Starting on my first day, I immediately was treated as a true team member. Despite the staff’s constantly tight schedule (which frequently involves travel), there is an unmistakable community of mutual respect and shared creativity here. This community permeates through every aspect of the small office space inhabited. Unlike many businesses that cannot invest fully into their intern program (often because of legitimate setbacks), Walden is one of those rare places that actively seeks to provide an life-changing internship experience for their interns. Interns are treated as full participants in the journey, a journey filled with challenges that test their strengths as writers, critics, filmmakers, and, more importantly, as leaders. Our near-full access into Walden is enticing, but it is only through acknowledging the gravity of this undeserved opportunity that we are able to work to our fullest potential for those around us. In everything, from the fantastic opportunity to contribute ideas when President Michael Flaherty calls a brainstorming meeting regarding a particular film, to simply filling out another spreadsheet for a staff member, I’m called to do all work to the glory of God and the joy of those around me.

This challenge – to seek out the glory of God through others – is what I continue to strive towards over these next two months. If we’re to live for God’s kingdom here in a fallen world, we will continue to face hardship. But, we must recognize that God has already accomplished the greatest work on the Cross – everything we do in retrospect is for fulfillment in this. 

Ecclesiastes 3 says it well:

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

At the close of this past week, the VP of Walden Media, Francis X. “Chip” Flaherty, gave us interns an in-depth overview of the different levels of business at Walden. He talked about everything from the conception of a project (e.g. buying the rights to a book), to its ultimate distribution (where people like Fox are integral). Really awesome, insightful stuff for sure. But, he also gave us personal words of wisdom regarding our role as interns, advice that he said should also carry over to our other work experiences. Some of this advice was an admonition to always ask “why?” in the tasks given to us. Through doing this, he said, we’ll be able to better contextualize the work we do, and find fulfillment in its inherent value.

The next two months, I begin pursuing my goals to 1. learn extensively about the film development process, 2. create a successful script and script coverage,  3. learn some of the informal communication standards between media corporations, 4. learn how to constructively pick apart the flaws in a story, and 5. learn how to lead others to brainstorm and arrive on a story pitch. I do continuing to as “why,” and by seeking God’s fulfillment and rest as I work.

Starting from those in leadership, I’m seeing first-hand that a Hollywood studio is able to effectively reach millions of people without compromising its faith values. The coming two months may be an enjoyable challenge, but I believe God has me here for a reason, and I intend to use this opportunity to its fullest. Never would I have imagined 8 years ago, when I saw The Lion, the Witch, & The Wardrobe, that I would one day be working in its makers’ office. It truly is an undeserved opportunity, and I continue to be intrigued about whether God might have a place for me here in the film industry.

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