With a background steeped in the history of film and how film distributors acquire projects, Columbia College Chicago Arts Management major with a concentration in Film Business, Travon Toussiant is making major strides in the film world by doing not one, but two internships this summer.
Born and raised in Chicago and a graduate of CICS-Northtown Academy High School, Travon’s interest in films was spurred early on in his high school career. “During my sophomore year of high school, I took film studies course where I learned how to analyze films. Then I joined screenwriting and production programs at After School Matters. I had such a fun time learning different positions there are on a set, and how to create good storytelling. This later made me begin to write my own scripts during my free time.”
While researching colleges, Columbia quickly became a top choice because of the vast number of courses that matched his interests. “Many of the other colleges offered only business courses that were too broad. This was an advantage of my major having a concentration that had specific business courses tied to the film and tv industry. Some of the required courses that caught my attention were based in film marketing, managing licensing/ intellectual property, entrepreneurship, talent management, and introduction to management & entrepreneurship. Also, I was able to take the creative side of the industry such as TV Studies.”
Travon’s passion for the industry is contagious. He is becoming a true leader in the field by understanding the breadth that is required to be successful in the industry. Excelling in his classes is second nature, but the amount of research and genuine interest in the business side makes him standout in his pursuit of knowledge. According to Travon, “I believe learning about the industry's business side is vital to understanding that the intellectual property of a film is a product. Many people like to only worry about the creative side of the industry, but I feel that you have to understand both as it’s all interconnected.”
Taking classes such as Business of Film & TV, Law for Creatives, and Economics for Creatives, has given Travon the tools to successfully intern within the industry. Last summer despite the pandemic, he interned at WeVidlt as a creative content producer intern. “I was responsible for assisting in creating different 30-60 second story idea pitches in the format of trailers or elevator pitches. Furthermore, I became a judge intern for the Strasburg Film Festival, where I assisted in reviewing multiple films submitted from different countries. This internship taught me how to give proper feedback to filmmakers when watching their film.”
This summer Travon is also interning at two companies. In particular, his internship with Radiant Films International has been fulfilling in terms of his career trajectory. According to Travon, “I am an acquisitions intern where I assist in reading and writing script coverage. Radiant Films International is a sales agency that represents filmmakers who need help distributing their films and pitching them to film distributors that are in the international indie marketplace. I’m responsible for working with the team in developing marketing strategy ideas. The company culture is very welcoming. They have made sure that I received the most knowledgeable experience possible while also being fun. Also, my supervisor is respectful and provides clear expectations for me to succeed.”
Through these remote internships, Travon has become an expert in the medium. He has some fantastic tips for students doing a remote internship. “Make sure you have a quiet space to do an internship. Realize that much of your duties are independent. Research the company and see if interning there would benefit you. Communicate with the team/supervisor via a virtual or in-person chat. Connect on LinkedIn with employees. Finally, include everything you have done while interning at the company on your resume as you do them. Sometimes you may forget what projects you’ve done at the company as months go by.”
With four internships being a huge confidence boost to his future, Travon mapped out his career goals. “After graduating from Columbia, I expect to be working at an existing company in the film and tv industry. As for my long-term goal, I want to become an entrepreneur by starting my own film distribution/production company. The more I learn about this industry, the more I love it. I believe I can solve the distribution space problem by starting my own company.”