Students could find it tougher to reel in film internships - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Students could find it tougher to reel in film internships

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UNCW Film Student Jimmie Bullis working on 'The Maze Runner in Louisiana' - interning with the snake wrangler on set. UNCW Film Student Jimmie Bullis working on 'The Maze Runner in Louisiana' - interning with the snake wrangler on set.

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – While the number of internships for film students at UNCW has doubled in recent years, it appears opportunities for internships on some local productions are decreasing.

Recently, NBC's Revolution and CBS's Under the Dome have declined hiring interns.

One Tree Hill, which wrapped production in 2012, and Dawson's Creek, which wrapped in 2003, usually hired a handful of interns from UNCW, according to Terry Linehan, who is the internship director for the film studies program.

He said insurance liability and possible litigation could be keeping some productions from hiring the future filmmakers.

Last month, two interns won a federal lawsuit filed against the makers of the movie Black Swan for not paying them for their work.

Fox Searchlight has appealed the ruling.

Linehan is keeping a close eye on the case.

He said it could actually end up being a positive thing for interns.

"Interns will either be paid or they will have training," he said. "That's the litmus test on if an internship is legal or not. Is the beneficiary the intern or is it the company? If it's the company, and they're not paying somebody, that's slave labor and that's against minimum wage law."

However, he worries because of the outcome of the suit companies might shy away from having internships, which he believes benefit both the students and the film industry.

"It's clear that internships are a valuable way to get your foot in the door, make some connections," he said. "It's a way for the companies to train future employees for free or if they pay them minimum wage. It's a way for them to meet new blood and meet new talent."

Linehan says there are still a lot of companies taking Seahawks under their wing.

In the past six years, the program has grown from 60 interns to 120.

Some are spending the summer in Los Angeles as part of a grant from the Academy Awards Foundation. Several others are in New York or London.

Student Jimmie Bullis (pictured) is working on The Maze Runner in Louisiana, interning with the snake wrangler on set.

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