Annie Ross defines the term radiant, with a vibrant a smile, a divine sense of humor with a golden personality. It’s quite difficult to find reasons to not like her.
The SFSU business major, marketing minor continues to pile up her plate, with being a full-time student and interning for the Allied-THA as a studio intern. A place that consumes her energy and ability to have a social life, yet her internship is pretty wicked considering the company handles publicity and promotions for movies in the film industry. Recently, Ross and Allied-THA just wrapped a promotional project on the film The Last Exorcism Part Two via CBS Films, which ended up sending Ross to Cat Club in SoMa where she joked about forgetting “to wear [her] corset, leather collar and fishnets.”
Despite being a full-time student, with an internship, Ross also works full-time in the women’s shoe department at Nordstrom. One begins to wonder, how does Ross maintain her sanity?
Tell me about your internship.
Allied-THA is a company that does publicity and promotions mainly in the film industry. They hold a lot of big accounts such as Disney, Warner Brothers, I can’t even remember half of them, but if there’s a big movie coming out, odds are, they’re doing the publicity for it. They hold screenings and events. [For example] Giants FanFest, we were there. Color run, we’ll be there. I’m not even sure when the people employed permanently by Allied actually sleep. If they aren’t having or throwing events, they’re holding screenings late into the evening, or writing reviews at four in the morning.
What motivated you to apply for this specific internship?
Most things in San Francisco, you really have to go after, apply and follow up, and follow up to your follow up. But this one, I actually fell into it. I came from Santa Cruz, which is very small-town oriented; the smaller the town the more important it is to know people with connections [network]. I had a friend from kindergarten who went to Berkeley and interned at Allied before she graduated and got hired as a coordinator. (There are six coordinators. They all hold different studio accounts and are overseen by the publicists. Emily, my friend, is the coordinator of Disney, CBS Films and FilmDistrict). Last semester, she e-mailed me kind of informally, and by kind of informally, I mean it was a Facebook message, and just said to send her my resume that she had some openings for general interns for school credit and wondered if I would be interested. I always knew I wanted to go into a field that had to do with marketing or public relations. I knew that whether or not I was suited for promotions/publicity would help me… kind of…direct the jobs I would pursue after graduation. Plus, movies are REALLY expensive now and I am obsessed with movies. So I knew that would be an awesome perk.
What are your duties?
Well last semester I was a general intern. Which was basically, just a lot of calling and giving out free movie passes. Before a movie is released, most of them will have several screenings depending on the film and the market. The big markets that Allied in San Francisco handles are Sacramento, San Francisco and Fresno, but you can usually assume that the smaller markets like, say, San Jose would be inclusive to San Francisco, or sometimes we do screenings in Oakland.
So in order to fill a screening you’re looking for a target demographic. An example would be like, last semester I had to fill for this movie called Cloud Atlas, which is actually a horrible example of the kind of great movies we do screenings for, but for this it will work. So Cloud Atlas is centered around the idea that you’re reincarnated and your life progresses along the many different lives you live. Something like that. Super new age. Super hippie. Well 25 percent of it is in a database of people we have contacted before but 75 percent of it is honestly Yelp and Google, Yelp and Google. Yelp is essentially my bible. Because you can see what sort of people go there by the reviewers, and the filters can give you an idea of how popular a business is. So I call all these yoga places and just say, “Hey we are trying to get the hype up about this movie before it comes out, can I email you some passes?” Some people are apprehensive about giving out their email. It really is that easy. I download them as a pdf; I log into my own email; I send them the pdf; they print it out. All our movies are first come, first serve, and as interns we have to pack them like 300 percent. Because even with 300 percent, sometimes the turnout will only fill 85 percent of the theater house, but if it is a movie everyone wants to see, yeah we have to turn people away. My next jobs would be running the screenings, the nitty-gritty of guarding reserved seats, scanning tickets, the not-really fun stuff. Then, there is street teaming and bar nights, which is passing out promotional items (cups, posters, t-shirts, beads, foam fingers, iPhone cases, beanies, stuffed animals, window clings, everything, things you wouldn’t think of would help promote a movie, probably do) we hand all these things out to the target audience and take pictures to send to the studio to essentially prove we are doing our job.
What is the most thrilling thing you’ve done at your internship? Any stories?
[Laughs] Well this past month, my coordinator needed a studio intern for CBS Films. They are releasing The Last Exorcism Part 2. The last LAST exorcism if you will. I’m going to look so stupid if they come out with another one after this one. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the first one– I honestly don’t even like scary movies, even the Wikipedia article gave me nightmares– but it’s about a guy who does exorcisms who decides that all these people doing exorcisms are frauds and he’s going to do one more exorcism to prove it. But the girl he chooses for his last exorcism, Nell, is actually possessed by the devil.
So we wanted to do one big stunt in San Francisco. The studio suggested hiring an actress to pretend she was possessed. The director of our office goes, let’s do one better, let’s get a crazy contortionist and put her somewhere. My coordinator had been trying to do something with Cat Club in SoMa for the longest time but never had anything that was appropriate. Contacting Cat Club was easy. Who wouldn’t want to be part of something like this?
Yet here I am posting Craigslist ads trying to find a contortionist for “an upcoming movie event” without trying to sound like a rapist. I literally got zero responses. I thought I was going to lose it. So then I start researching circus schools and circus programs, we finally find this girl, Elena. She was so awesome. She dressed up in a nightgown with fake blood all over it. She just did things I didn’t even know were humanly possible. Being at Cat Club in itself was kind of an experience. My whole life I’ve been pretty mainstream, borderline square, like Top 40 bars with a dance floor, I don’t even go to clubs. But here I am, in this bar, with everyone wearing leather, under red lighting, and I apparently forgot to wear my corset, leather collar and fishnets. Observing a subculture from an outsider perspective is pretty cool in retrospect, but that night I felt pretty awkward. It was an experience; I’ll just say that. I sent a lot of weird videos to my friends that night.
What are the negatives about your internship?
Honestly, it’s just a different lifestyle than I’m used to. I can see if you were committing all your time to it. [But] I have school, and I work full-time. I have a constant level of anxiety at my internship because everything falls together there at the last minute. Like, I swear, the last week before The Last Exorcism Part Two came out, I had been calling locations in the three markets for three weeks. People in Fresno are really hard to convince to do anything, by the way. But it’s literally the day I have to send things out, with any chance of getting them there by Thursday, the literal LAST night before the movie comes out, so it’s the LAST day, and I booked two bar nights in Sacramento, and two in Fresno. Seemed simple, but I was stressing myself crazy trying to get those booked for weeks before.
I’ve worked in corporate retail for five years, and I’m so used to being part of a place where there is a distinct business model. Customers come to your specific store because it has a reputation for being a certain way. Whereas Allied, you have less of a plan. I’m assuming to encourage innovation and creative ways of doing things. Can you imagine if promotional places always used the same tactics and gimmicks? We would just be numb to it all.
By having this internship, what have you learned?
The first thing that comes to mind is that I get to see a lot of movies, and I always take a lot from media intellectually. [But] the internship itself, I’d say that organization is really important. I’ve learned the importance of a checklist. My life is organized in Excel sheets now. I took a lot of skills from being a sales person to my internship. At the same time, my internship made me really aware of the skills I already have: to be outgoing, that people will kind of go along with anything if you sound like you know what you’re talking about. You should probably ACTUALLY know what you’re talking about if you’re going to act like you do.
How do you manage being a student, working full-time at Nordstrom, and interning for Allied?
Honestly, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve always been someone who really likes to fill all my idle time. My first two years in junior college, I had two jobs where I worked 25 hours each [week] and went to school full-time.
I always schedule my classes early in the morning. Then three days during the week I work at night (the other two days on weekends), and my two days off I will go intern. Those are the simple times. It’s the weeks that require more than two days at the intern office [Allied] that really stress me out. Or the times when I have to work two screenings and Nordstrom is in the middle of a sale. But like all jobs, there’s something super gratifying about facing a task or a whole bunch of tasks in this case, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna die in the process of getting all this done.” The day you finish it, you’re tired as all hell, but part of you is like shaking your arms above your head in victory like “I AM INVINCIBLE!”
Indeed, Annie Ross, you are.