The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Adventures at the Alamo: Reflecting on Week-Long Internship

in Our Voices by

As I was walking down the cold and scary sidewalk of 6th Street, heading to The Ritz and Alamo Drafthouse theater, I saw my friends waving at me from a distance. We were meeting the head recruiters for orientation and to learn the background of the company.

In front of the theatre, I saw a poster announcing the the film Roma was now showing. My mother had watched it on Netflix as soon as it was available, and had told me that it was made by Alfonso Cuaron, and Academy Award winning director that happens to also be born in Mexico. My face quickly forming a smile. Just knowing that a movie made by a Latino director was showing in a theatre that I loved made me so happy. This gave me more confidence and validation that I deserved to work at the Alamo.

When the orientation ended, we left the theatre and headed down 6th street to an office.  Opening the doors, I felt like I was let into a secret that no one knew about but the two other interns and I.  We walked down a hallway lined with glass windows that showcased Alamo employees working in their offices. We were promptly introduced to the head of the video department, their office feeling dark and secluded. Thinking this was just going to be a tour of the offices, I thought this was just a temporary stop. I quickly found out that I was wrong; I was the only one who was going to be working with the video department and the head of it was going to be my mentor. My other two friends would be working together without me.

As I got introduced to the head of the video department, I couldn’t get over the fact that I was going to work by myself. I felt so confused about why I was working by myself and what my other two friends were doing. Were they getting a more interesting project than me? Was their project more important? My thoughts were going crazy as I sat there in the dark office. I got my own desk, computer, and a pair of headphones. They had thought of getting me my own space to edit and to do my project, and I felt validated.

As I sat down in my chair my mentor, the head of the video department, asked me what project I wanted to do. I had the two options of doing a trailer for a movie or a video essay. I instantly knew that I wanted to do something more creative and personal like a video essay. This video essay was going to be inspired by the movie Roma’s poster that I had seen outside of the theatre. I decided to do a video essay on Latinx directors in the industry.

“That’s amazing, I think that’s such a good idea, research some of the directors and tell me what movies you need and I’ll get them to you,” my mentor said.

That’s something that I truly didn’t expect to hear. I’m just a junior in high school, I wasn’t expecting that someone in a professional career would be impressed with an idea of mine.

For what felt like ten minutes of staring at tabs on my borrowed laptop was actually two hours, and then the research phase of my project was complete. I made a list of Latinx directors and some of their movies. After this, I reconvened with my mentor the list of movies I had in mind so that he could get them for me to start clipping scenes from. My mentor had access to every movie you could think of because of their sister company that archives movies, the American Genre Film Archive. After coming back from eating lunch at a restaurant near the office with the other two interns, I realized just how lonely I was working alone. As the day went by, I fell into a rut working on my project. I wanted so badly to make my project impressive and perfect. The clock was moving fast when it felt like only a few minutes had gone by.

“So what colleges or career path are you interested in?” my mentor asked.

This was something that I didn’t think that my mentor was going to ask or care about. I thought that the internship was just going to be managed by adults who didn’t really care about us. We started talking more and more about where they had gone to school and what I wanted to do. This made me feel so important because they actually cared about my interests. I told him that I wanted to go to the University of Southern California and that I wanted to study film. He replied with a smile on his face and said that a lot of great things come out of there.

As I opened the office doors to go home I saw my mom’s car. As soon as I got in, my mom asked me about my day.

“I realized today that this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life,” I told my mom.

I finished my sentence and my mom’s face turned bright. She was always wary about my future because I want to go into a pathway that she doesn’t think is stable.

The next day quickly came and I realized how much I missed my friends and how much I loved working as a group. I got my computer and worked on my project in the office that they were working in. Reason being because of all the brainstorming that came from it and all the great ideas.

As the next days came and went, I fell into the same rut I was in on the first day. I was overthinking everything and avoiding my problems by talking to my friends the whole work day. I had never had this sort of responsibility where I was managing my time during the day and having to create a great project in the end. I became burdened with the project that at the beginning I loved.

The final day came when we could work on our projects and I still had to do so much. The time suddenly felt like it was flying by, and then it was three in the afternoon and I only had an hour and a half to finish. I grasped now that I had to really hurry up and do this project.

I got out my journal and sketched out how the video was going to look like, storyboarding the entire project. In each box was what movie was going to be featured and what scene from the movie I was going to include. Whenever I finished this plan I quickly started organizing my Adobe Premiere project. By then my workday was nearly over..

I wanted to send a draft of the video to my mentor and have him edit my projectot knowing if it was already too late, I sent him an email asking him if I could send him a draft that afternoon. I wasn’t hoping for much, not even a reply.

“Of course, send me this draft when you can. I’m excited to see what you’ve come up with!” my mentor responded.

Since I wasn’t expecting a reply, I quickly hurried when getting home to meet this deadline. I was proud of what I had created with only a few hours to complete.

My excitement hadn’t left, and whenever I saw the email response it actually had grown. He only had made a few edits to the text in the video and the music. I was surprised he didn’t edit it more since it really had become such a last-minute project.

Then it was time to present our projects and give a report on how the internship went. We were all going to present together on the same stage, but we were presenting our own projects that we worked on throughout the week. As flash cards were flying in the air when practicing the presentations, I came to the realization that I was doing what I always dreamed to do.

Everything had come to a full circle this week, as I opened the doors to The Ritz theatre where we had started the week off at orientation. This was where we were going to present our projects.

As the lights in the theatre turned on, I was amazed at the beautiful theatre. This then turned into panic when seeing the big stage and screen where everyone was going to be looking at us.

“You’re going to do amazing and if you panic think, what would Meryl Streep do?” one of mentors said, who we had grown close to.

My video filled my the theatre screen and butterflies swarmed my stomach. Everyone was watching what I had created and something that meant so much to me. The theatre filled with applause and quickly, my video was over. As I said thank you a smile grew over my face.

On my way home on the bus, I started to reflect on how my week had gone. The internship had confirmed my interest to work in the film industry; I want to bring more diversity into these offices where in most meetings I was the only woman and person of color. Even when looking for female directors in my research, I found close to none. I realized that I not only wanted to simply work in the film industry; I want to become that Latina director that little girls look up to.

 

Link to video I made at the Alamo: https://vimeo.com/317496478

As most kids at 6 years old were starting first grade, Ximena Sifuentes-Chavez was migrating from Mexico to the United States. Transitioning from “Feliz cumpleaños” to “happy birthdays” was different for Ximena and lead her to step out of her comfort zone and join a film club in elementary school. Carrying film with her through middle school and into high school, she knew the pathway for her was Media Technology. Creating films and being involved in cinematography is a future goal for Ximena Sifuentes...but don’t think that is the only thing she has in mind. Junior, Ximena has an internship working at a production company and has been working since the start of summer 2018. Ximena is looking forward to giving voices to those who usually don't have one this upcoming year, as a staff writer for the Polaris Press newspaper.

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