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BU in LA lets students experience the entertainment industry

Q & A with program director Bill Linsman

Bill Linsman, the director of the Los Angeles Internship Program

The BU Los Angeles Internship Program, now in its third year, offers students a chance to work in the heart of the entertainment world and take classes taught by industry professionals. Bill Linsman, a professional commercial director and an associate professor in the film and television department at the College of Communication, was named the program’s director in July; this semester 46 students are enrolled, and the 6-person faculty is focused on finding new ways to launch students into the entertainment community. The program’s first symposium was held on Thursday, October 27; the topic was Media Convergence: Creativity in a Bottom-Line Marketplace. Applications for next semester are due on November 1 and are available online.

How is the LA Internship Program structured?

Students are all involved in daily internships in the entertainment business. To give you a feeling for some of the employers, we have students at HBO Films, E! Entertainment Network, CBS Television, DreamWorks, and those kind of places.

The internship is during the daytime; they have to go to at least 20 hours a week of an internship, and many of them work four days a week during the daytime, at one or two internships. In the evening, they take three classes of their choice. There are two core classes for film and television students and two core classes for the advertising and public relations students.

What kind of course work do students do?

The core classes are The Business of Hollywood, which is the most popular class, and Careers in Hollywood, which is a speakers class. The speakers class features people, mostly BU alumni, that have made it big in Los Angeles, and there are a lot of them — we have a different speaker every week.

Then we have two advertising and PR core classes. One is a survey of entertainment promotion, which is taught by Alan Cohen (COM’78), an alum who is a creative director at an ad agency. The other class is taught by yet another alum, a lawyer named Ben Laski (COM’97, LAW’97); he tells the students the rudiments of entertainment promotion from a music point of view, because he handles big-time musical acts.

There are two additional classes; one is The Creative Life in Television, and then we have the acting track, which is taught by Robert Shampain (CFA’80), who’s a very accomplished actor here in LA and a graduate of the College of Fine Arts.

Why spend a semester studying in Los Angeles?

There is no comparable experience, and for anybody who wants to be in the entertainment business, it’s a no-brainer. This is an easy, safe, and relatively economical way to learn what LA is all about. They get housing, they get an internship or internships, and they get classes, all for the same cost as it would be on the Charles River Campus.

Students love it. We make sure that they are happy with their internships, and we monitor their classes constantly so that they are getting what they need from this.

What goals have you developed for the program?

We’re attempting to generate bigger numbers on the enrollment in all three tracks, and we’ve started a symposium twice a semester, stimulating action between senior alumni and junior alumni and present students. We try to come up with topics that are pertinent to all those individuals. The overarching purpose is to bring together the BU entertainment community in Southern California.