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Hollywood intern learns the business from alumni

By: Kathy Hovis,  A&S Communications
August 31, 2015

If you happen to watch Nicolas Cage's new movie "The Runner" and stay for the credits, you'll see the name Andrea Fiorentini '16.

Working on the film's postproduction has been just one of the benefits of Fiorentini's internship the past two summers through the alumni-run Cornell in Hollywood program, which helps Cornell students learn about careers in the entertainment industry, find internships and network with Cornellians.

Since its inception in 2007, the program has placed 123 students with more than 40 companies.

Last year, Fiorentini worked with film editor Michael Miller '74, who is still a mentor. This year, she's working with director Josh Greenbaum '01 and also is interning at Delirio Films, founded by Rafael Marmor '98, whose documentary "Can You Dig This" screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June.

"The film is about an urban gardening project happening in Compton [California] … the project has done amazing things for the community," Fiorentini says. "The film sold out at the festival, and I was able to jump in to see what the festival business is like."

Assisting planners of the after-party and red carpet was worth the effort, Fiorentini says, as she got to hobnob with singer John Legend, a producer on the film.

"Delirio films is doing amazing things with just four people, including two Cornellians," says Fiorentini, who's majoring in performing and media arts (PMA) in the College of Arts and Sciences. The company produces commercials, feature films and documentaries.

"I'm learning how to pitch an idea from the ground up," Fiorentini says.

She says her dramatic writing class and filmmaking classes were invaluable. "You have to know what you're writing about to pitch successfully," she says. "The amount of research you have to put in to make what you're doing legitimate is very crucial and important."

Three days a week Fiorentini works with Greenbaum, sitting in on editing and reading scripts.

"It's kind of scary when you realize how much interns have a say in selecting scripts," she says. "I read the scripts and tell Josh whether he should look at them. You have to be able to defend your decision, and you have to understand how a script works and be able to evaluate its structure and character development."

Greenbaum's latest project is a Carhartt commercial filmed using workers in Seattle factories who have dangerous jobs; Fiorentini will sit in on the postproduction process. She also helped edit an Arnold Schwarzenegger commercial featuring the actor in a wax museum, which went viral in June.

"Two days after I gave my notes, I was on Facebook and saw the commercial going viral," she recalls. "It was awesome to see that many of my suggestions were included in the final edit."

Miller says hosting Cornell interns offers him a way to give back.

"As someone who reaped enormous rewards from an internship with [a Cornellian, documentarian] Chuck Workman, long before there was a formal internship program, I can't say enough about what a gift interning is," Miller says. "And the benefits of mentorships and internships flow back to the alumni."

In her spare time, Fiorentini is working on a play with fellow PMA major Anna Brenner '16, which will premiere Nov. 5-7 at Cornell's Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. Brenner is the playwright, and Fiorentini will direct.

Called "Twentyhood," the coming-of-age play follows Olive, a theater student, who is spending the summer in Ithaca with her friends as they try to forge a place of belonging after leaving home.

"It's a play about some of the trials and errors in college that people don't talk about," Fiorentini says. "It touches a lot on the idea of how challenging it is to leave your childhood home and try to create a new family."

This article originally appeared in Ezra Update.

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