Summer at Westward Productions

Megan Striff-Cave, COL ’23, West Hartford, CT

This summer, I worked as a Development Intern for Westward Productions, a production company based in Brooklyn. Working in development essentially means that I was focusing on the initial stages of projects for films and television. A major part of my role was writing script coverage, which can be thought of as a “book report” on a script. After reading a pilot of a television show or a film, I summarized the plot and then provided specific analysis based on what the producers were looking for – sometimes, they weren’t interested in the script itself, but wanted to consider the writer for a different project. While reading and then briefly summarizing 100+ page films was at first daunting, it soon became like muscle memory. I received feedback on my coverage, which helped me gain a better understanding of the vocabulary and styles surrounding elements like plot, structure, and dialogue. As someone who hopes to help create television shows, getting to read and critique so many screenplays gave me a better idea of how to write one of my own.

One of my favorite responsibilities in my job was going through the weekly roundups for projects that we received. Agencies sent us books, magazines, podcasts, and more that could be considered for television or film. Out of hundreds of different projects, I got to recommend 5-10 for the company’s consideration. If there were any projects, they were particularly keen about, I got to read the book or listen to the podcast and provided a version of “coverage,” in which I summarized the story and analyzed how exactly it could be converted into a project for the screen. The other intern, along with our coordinators, had interesting conversations about these books and podcasts – would they be better as a drama mini-series, or maybe a more lighthearted spin for a movie? If the project wasn’t right for Westward, we had conversations about what type of companies in the industry it would work for, giving me a better idea of the layout of the entertainment landscape.

Because there was just one other intern and me, we had the opportunity to get specialized attention and feedback. When we inquired about the many different roles in the industry, especially the difference between salaries and contracted positions, our intern coordinators create an extensive presentation for us detailing the routes and explaining what roles our skills and interests would be best suited for. We had the opportunity to meet everyone in the company and attend development meetings, where producers would go over their slate and update the team on the progress of each project. We also got to speak one-on-one with Beau Willimon, the founder of Westward Productions, known for many roles including the showrunner for seasons one through four of House of Cards. The professional development provided by the internship along with the tangible skills we learned has helped me immensely as I look for jobs in production in the entertainment industry post-grad.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services