Video Internship in South Africa: an amazing learning experience

Video Internship in South Africa: an amazing learning experience

Written by: Christina Glass

Photo credits: Christina Glass

A story about making mistakes, friendships and no regrets

Christina contacted us looking for a video internship. Preferably an internship where she could use video to make an impact and tell stories. Creating awareness through a video. We found a great opportunity for her with environmental nonprofit Greenpop. But now she had to choose between two months of pro bono work with a small nonprofit in South Africa or doing an internship with a big, international intergovernmental organization…

In August, I was fortunate enough to start a video internship with Greenpop.
An amazing organization.
Beautiful scenery.
Amazing food.
Incredibly nice people to work and live with.
An incredible learning experience.

However, it required a move from Paris to South Africa for two months of pro bono work. So why did I do it? I will tell you why…

It was not an easy decision. I was offered the video internship at Greenpop last June. I would be working in South Africa while augmenting my video skills. As I drafted an acceptance email in my head, I saw my phone light up. It was an email for a similar internship in Paris. My elation dropped and even though I was flattered at such a response, I was now faced with an impossible decision. The organization is well-known, cause-centric, and looks really good on the resume.

‘WHAT SHOULD I DO?’ I texted my friends… Some responded with ‘go to South Africa, you will never have an opportunity like this again.’ Others said ‘ Cape Town is dangerous- don’t go there!’ (however, I have lived to tell the story) ‘The OECD will provide a better corporate experience and it’s paid!’

Yes, OECD would have equipped me with exposure to an intergovernmental organization, but I was lacking the excitement and the passion. Greenpop would provide the freedom to work on the things I wanted to work on, in a flexible, supportive environment. And I was right!! I am sure my experience at the other internship would have been great. However, I wanted to expand my horizons and go somewhere new and be able to implement my knowledge of global communications in a meaningful way.

Video internship in Cape Town Office dog_ internship Cape Town Intern abroad in Cape Town

Let me tell you why this experience was worth every penny.

“I used to go around and shoot pretty things and stitch them together. It wasn’t until another fellow filmmaker who encourages me to build a storyboard when my work improved drastically.” Misha, Greenpop CEO and filmmaker, summarized my internship in a sentence. He would sit down with me to map out each 30-second interval of the film I was producing for them. We did not just discuss a shot list, but the emotions we wanted each section to elicit. Misha taught me to consider visual and motion continuity, interesting angles, and framing that contribute to telling the greater story. I teased around the office that ‘I learned more in an hour with Misha than I did in an entire semester of a film class.’

Of course, I had challenges. Conducting interviews were difficult. My first interview was a nightmare. When flustered and in a rush, you tend to forget some important details. The interviewees patiently waited as I dealt audio, SD card, and camera problems. Most of that day’s footage was unusable, due to audio problems. I will never forget to troubleshoot microphones ahead of time…ever. again.

Want to read more about Christina’s work? Check out this blog post where we followed her on one of her shooting days

Most of my time was spent roaming around Cape Town, capturing b-roll footage for the film. This was a lot of fun. I felt like as if I got to see more of the city that way. I visited parks, forests, cape flats, and went on some LONG hikes. Long for me that it is, my idea of a long hike is climbing the stairs of Greenpop. It is safe to say that it pushed me to do things I wouldn’t normally do- like getting up before sunrise to climb Lion’s Head. I am not a morning person, neither are my flatmates, whom I convinced to come with me. That’s true friendship, right there.

Hiking Table mountain  Christina media internship in Cape Town

However, when you do almost everything together over the course of two months, you become pretty close. I was a little apprehensive to share an apartment with seven other people, but it turned into one of the best experiences I have had and I have a few kitchen dance-off videos to prove it.

The day before my internship ended was the final and most important shoot, it was the first pilot plant day of the Fynbos for the Future programme. I filmed students participating in outdoor activities and planting fynbos in their new school garden. It was amazing to see it come to fruition after filming the progress. The students were excited to get their hands dirty and learn about fynbos. Hearing the students exclaim “I planted my first plant!” was such a rewarding and culminating part of my internship.

Keen for a Media or Video Internship as well? Read more

I am so thankful that I listened to my intuition last summer to fly across a continent for an unpaid video internship in Cape Town. I walked away with an amazing learning experience, a great addition to my portfolio, and incredible memories of an amazing organization, fun roommates, and a truly beautiful city.

And here is the end result: Christina’s video about Fynbos for the Future

Other Interesting Reads