College Student Gets Opportunity of a Lifetime to Work as an Intern on Academy Award Winning Film, Then Files Lawsuit
Alex Footman...worked as an unpaid intern for Black Swan, a film that won numerous awards and grossed over $300 million.
Footman was hoping an internship with Black Swan would open doors in Hollywood. Instead, it has made him rethink his career plans. "This was six months of my life which left me nowhere further along in my career than before," Footman says. "It was not a learning experience and that was what I had expected. This really just seemed like I was just working and wasn't getting paid for it."
He's now part of the open class-action lawsuit against Fox Searchlight Pictures, the film's producer. He and another unpaid intern, Eric Glatt, are suing to win back pay for the hours they worked. They're also filing for an injunction that would keep the company from hiring unpaid interns in the future.
Truly stunning. A couple of quick thoughts:
- This lawsuit will be the last time Fox Searchlight or any employer in that business will open up their studio to interns. Taking on an intern is often more trouble than it’s worth. Add on to that the risk of getting sued, and what's the point?
- Outlawing unpaid internships is a great way to protect those who are already on the inside and have connections (e.g. kids whose parents are in the business). If my son or daughter wanted to get into the movie business, the only way they might be able to get in and compete with others who grew up around the business would be to offer their services for free.
- In the end, you can require internships to be paid, but then you will either have no internships or internships for only people who have connections and are on the inside. Personally, I prefer a world where there is opportunity for anyone to break into an industry if they want it badly enough.
In closing, this was in the comment section, and makes me feel better about the world:
“Wow. I'm a film student and I can't even count how many times I've worked for free on small independent films. Meanwhile this guy can literally put "Black Swan" on his resume. Yes you have to do a lot crap work in the beginning without little in return. But, if you do your job well people will notice and you'll eventually start working your way up. You know what doesn't work your way up in the industry? Suing companies who let you on their set.”