In summary

Bachelor of Media and Communication student, Harrison Buikstra, writes on his experience supporting the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. 

Over the winter break I was lucky enough to secure an internship at Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF), helping them turn their festival into something that could be enjoyed by people living in lockdown.

My major is in social media and I minor in cinema and screen studies, so ultimately, I really wanted to find something that used both areas of my study. The best part about studying social media is you can find work in really any field you’re interested in, whether it be film, live music, sport – anything. Cinema and screen studies has also been great for me because it keeps me up to date with the fast-changing screen industries and because I’ve always been passionate about film, especially queer film. Equipped with contacts and some insider industry info from my cinema and screen lecturer, I emailed MQFF blindly asking if there was anything I could do to help. Turns out there was a tonne of stuff I could do.

My main task was to help build a social media communications plan to keep MQFF audiences engaged with queer film between annual festivals, and also now while everyone is bunkered down at home. It was really intimidating at first, but I received heaps of help from the people at MQFF to develop it and fine tune my ideas. Creating something as daunting as this in real professional environment was actually pretty scary, so having that support network from my co-workers as well as from Swinburne was a really great way to learn these skills which will be so important to my career.

As part of the project, Harrison was tasked with bringing new ideas to the table and sharing them on social media. 

Life in lockdown

MQFF also held their very first online festival during lockdown, so I also helped generate promotional content through different social media channels. This was so much fun as I spent a couple of weeks designing stuff on Canva and researching films to write some fun descriptions for them.

I also got to pitch my own idea to host a virtual red carpet, in which we encouraged people to get all dressed up and make an event out of the festival, while being trapped at home. Seeing my ideas come to life, and having people respond so well to them was super rewarding!

Proactive advice

A couple quick tips I’d give for anyone else wanting to do an internship like this in the future:

•   Participate in extra curriculum activities — in cinema and screen studies, we had the chance with ACMI designing content for an immersive app, Constellations, that will accompany ACMI’s new permanent exhibition. Take on these opportunities!  The film industry is really competitive, and these industry-engaged projects are great experience and look great on a resume.

•   Ask for help — I was super nervous emailing MQFF out of the blue, but my cinema and screen studies lecturer was happy to help. Having the support of your lecturers and tutors and asking them to read over your cover letters and resumes makes a huge difference. They’re there to help, you just need to ask!

I’ve had such a great time working with MQFF. It was intimidating yes, but incredibly rewarding. I’ve made some really great connections with people at MQFF, and the work I’ve done with them has prepared me for my career ahead in ways unachievable anywhere else.

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