Penn State film-video student makes most of summer with two internships in LA

July 10, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Growing up in State College with a love for film-video, Grant Donghia has long dreamed about getting to Los Angeles. He made that dream a reality this summer by moving to the other side of the country to chase his career aspirations.

A rising junior at Penn State, Donghia is staying busy and making the most of his time in the entertainment capital of the world with not one but two summer internships.

It took a little bit of planning and coordination, but Donghia is serving as a creative development intern for two production companies — the Gotham Group, where he works three days a week, and the Kerner Entertainment Company, where he works two days a week.

“I learned very, very quickly that the industry is here. It is in Los Angeles,” Donghia said. “I feel like this is preparing me for the next stages of my career. Obviously, long-term, I want to get to another stage and I feel like I’m kind of getting that trampoline to bounce off of.”

The Gotham Group is known for producing movies such as “The Maze Runner” series, while Kerner is known for producing family home movies, such as “The Smurfs” series.

With both companies, Donghia reads scripts or books and then shares a report that includes a synopsis and whether or not he recommends that the company move forward with the project. While he doesn’t have final say in what the companies decide, he does feel like he has a voice.

“They want to know our opinion. Legitimately for some of them, if the intern is like, ‘No, this is trashy,’ they’re not going to look at it. Some of them, they have an idea that it’s going to be good so they just want another opinion, which is nice,” Donghia said.

In addition, he sits on executive meetings, which have provided a behind-the-scenes look at the entertainment industry. Both companies have a wide range of guest speakers who visit and Donghia is able to attend those talks. He also does research about up-and-coming writers.

Mostly, he does a lot of reading and writing, and his writing is something he feels has improved during his time at Penn State — thanks to a class he had in the spring.

“I had a professor this last semester, Anita (Gabrosek), who was really, really good in critiquing our work and elevating my writing not only in screenplays but overall. I think that she really helped me develop as a writer,” Donghia said. “My writing is still not where I need it to be. I’m still working on it but without having her class, I don’t know if it would have been good enough to even get (the internships).”

At the Gotham Group, Donghia was assigned a mentor he can go to for advice. Donghia’s dream job is to be a director or show-runner for FX and he has already discussed this with his mentor, who was more than willing to offer suggestions and tips for how to get there.

Next spring, Donghia will participate in the Penn State Hollywood Program and he believes this experience has given him a head start by already having companies in Los Angeles on his resume with two years of college remaining.

“I can confidently know that I can fight for that one step above because I know what’s going on out here and I can show that I’ve worked out here,” Donghia said. “That’s so important to me because, obviously I’m still on my toes and I know nothing is a given, but I know I can do that application process so much easier.”

Last Updated July 10, 2019