A filmmaker in the making
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Shane Flanagan remembers when he was a 10-year-old boy opening his mother’s Macbook for the first time. He started recording videos using the computer’s webcam while exploring iMovie. This is where his love for filming and editing videos began.
Flanagan, now a PV senior, interns at Lookalike Productions in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. The production company creates documentaries and has won 16 Emmy Awards, including the Outstanding Live Sports Special award. With his internship, Flanagan develops skills as he works closely with its production owners, twin sisters Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters.
Laura Grier is the head of the internship program, and coincidentally, Flanagan’s mother.
“The internship program at PV is an interactive learning partnership between the high school community and the workplace,” Grier said. “It is designed to help students increase their knowledge and abilities in a select area of study and in the working world.”
While applying for the internship, Flanagan showed the two sisters the videos he had made thus far. Impressed, they gave Flanagan his first “test” assignment two weeks before he started, which was to make one of the producer’s daughter’s college sports highlight reel.
“It was testing what I would do with that footage and how much skill I had,” Flanagan said. “They criticized me, which was a wake up call. I realized how much I needed to improve.”
After completing the trial task, Flanagan was exposed to the amount of work and precision that comes with making even a short video.
Since starting the internship early in the school year, Flanagan has never really had a “typical” day at work. Every time he steps through the doors, he is given a new assignment to work on. Flanagan explained how some of the assignments are tiring and seemingly unnecessary, but it give him perspective on the benefits and drawbacks of the world of video production.
“It’s never planned out,” Flanagan said. “I could be blogging, looking through hours of footage and marking them, marking shots that my editor might use, or surfing the internet for hours looking for pictures needed for clips.”
Flanagan’s most recent project was contributing to a Yankee Stadium documentary. Lookalike Productions made this documentary to help persuade the public that the upcoming 2021 Navy– Army football game commemorating the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 should be in Yankee stadium. The studio decided to hire Joe Torre, an American professional baseball executive serving in the capacity of Major League Baseball’s chief baseball officer since 2011, to be represented in the video. Flanagan was given the opportunity to go to Yankee Stadium and meet up with Torre.
“It was pretty awesome. We went to the press box and went around Yankee Stadium interviewing Joe Torre,” Flanagan said. “I actually got to sit in the dugout and talk with this baseball legend, which was by far the coolest thing I have done with this internship.”
In middle school, Flanagan expanded his video knowledge when he started to make his own music videos with his neighbor. He also ran two YouTube channels, which included video games and basketball trick shots all throughout middle school. Flanagan explained the experience allowed him to develop basic skills needed for his classes at PV as well as his internship.
“We posted my videos on Facebook which got a lot of likes,” Flanagan said, “[It] made me realize that my favorite things to [involve] video, leading me to take up video in high school and later an internship ” Flanagan said.
Flanagan acknowledged that the video production classes at Pascack Valley also contributed to the success he has had in the field, since the courses gave him time to develop and practice his skills.
Phil Bernardi, a retired PV video production teacher, was one of his most influential teachers, contributing to a lot of his successes.
“Shane was one of the best video production students I ever taught. He was very creative and had a passion for video production,” Bernardi said. “He excelled in all areas of production. Some students are good at scriptwriting or developing story ideas. Some are better with the technical things. But Shane is great at both.”
Flanagan also recently worked on a documentary on the Special Olympics Hockey team that is based in a school in New York, P 721M. Flanagan was given his very own camera to get the footage of the hockey team, with a small chance that some of his shots would be integrated into the documentary.
“One of the coolest moments was being able to interact with the actual Special Olympic people,” Flanagan said. “They were not people I would normally meet, and [I saw] what an inner city school for people with special needs is like.”
Through this internship, Flanagan has been provided the opportunity to converse with actor Jeff Goldblum, whose voice was used in one of Lookalike Productions’ documentaries. Goldblum has starred in movies like “Independence Day”, “Jurassic Park”, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”.
He described the informative and exciting conversation where he was exposed to the behind-the-scenes of an actor’s preparation, as well as Goldblum’s unique personality.
“He was doing lines in the recording studio to narrate a scratch track,” Flanagan said. “When he was getting ready, he was singing in a fake German accent. It surprised me as who would know that Jeff Goldblum was as funny and crazy as he was.”
Through this internship and his experiences, Flanagan additionally found a job through this production company. Next December, Flanagan will be traveling to Los Angeles to become a video production assistant, picking up a job either as a busboy or waiter.
Flanagan may also attend one of four Californian schools he got accepted to: San Francisco State University, San Francisco Art Institute, CSUN LA, and CSUN Northridge.
“The production assistant shop would be [unprofitable], however I know that to make it into the business you have to be an assistant for free,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan hopes that moving to Los Angeles will be the best choice for his career path.
“Hopefully it will be a good experience,” Flanagan said.