Worldwide Documentaries

By Erin Reilly ’20

My internship at Worldwide Documentaries exceeded my expectations in every way possible. 

Starting an internship with a documentary production company comes with obvious assumptions about what the experience will be like. Most of these assumptions, from the production side, were defied by the reality of the internship because of how much more in-depth and fast-paced the process of filmmaking can be. The amount of professionalism that I witnessed was something I had never seen before. 

I had a preconceived notion of how a nonprofit film organization might run, and to me it felt like it would be low-key and really structured. This experience was different. Worldwide had an obvious and impactful structure that has been in place for about thirty years, and it shows. The structure I’m speaking about that didn’t exist as much as I thought it would is the actual process of filmmaking. I’ve learned that opportunities must be seized when they present themselves or they’ll be gone. I’ve learned that trust and community can get you far in terms of what you can create and how you can create it. Bob and Heidi have built trust within countless members of the film community that they’re surrounded by, and it has opened doors and ears for them that helped them get support for their project. 

Throughout this experience, I saw what it meant to collaborate and connect with people just based on small similarities. I saw that reaching out into the void, and reaching far, can and will pay off. Never would I have thought that I’d work on a project that involved Glenn Close and Bruce Springsteen this semester, but here I am. Now, I am brought to my final point. I fulfilled my internship requirements and learned about professionalism in this field, but the value that I will take away from this experience that surprised me most is the one I hold for humanity. 

I was able to witness, for the last 14 weeks, people who truly care about the world around them and want to give a voice to those who’ve had theirs ripped from them. Before August, I didn’t know much about the immigration crisis on our US/Mexico border. Honestly, I really didn’t know anything. Now, it’s a topic I bring up at family dinner and in conversation with my friends. The care that the Worldwide Documentaries crew puts into telling the story of this humanitarian crisis is one of the most inspiring things I’ve had the honor of witnessing. We live almost 2,000 miles from the border where these people are suffering daily, and yet this team treats them like family members of their own, with the empathy and respect that they deserve, and it shows in their storytelling. 

I was able to improve my writing skills by practicing styles of writing that I’d never done before, such as fundraising pitches and organization newsletters. My supervisor, Heidi, provided me with connections that I’m sure will help me in the near future, and she and I established a relationship right off the bat that I will cherish forever. I was honored to be trusted with important parts of their project and appreciative of the constant feedback that I’d get when I completed a task. If I could go back and do it over again, the only thing I’d change would be connecting with this organization earlier. I hope to remain close to Heidi and Bob at Worldwide and will forever remember how rewarding of an experience this has been. 

Erin Reilly 

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