Interview: On Summer Film Internships in Cape Town

American college graduate Rob Weidner reflects on his intern abroad programme in the Mother City movie biz

Cape Town may not rival Hollywood, Bollywood or even Nollywood (the new nickname for Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry) in terms of the number of films produced per year, but it has established itself as one of the most attractive shooting locations in the world. 

Lured by affordable production costs, a knowledgeable local industry, breathtaking landscapes and reliable weather, countless international production houses have brought everything from big Hollywood blockbusters like Safe House and Invictus to smash-hit television series like Homeland to life in the Mother City. 

Needless to say, if you’re a college student or recent graduate looking for a summer film internship, South Africa’s most famous seaside metropolis is a destination extraordinaire. 

Don’t take our word for it though. Read what 22-year-old American Rob Weidner had to say about his intern experience with a local Cape production company and his time in the VACorps intern abroad programme. Why did you decide to do an internship in Cape Town? 

Rob: I always knew I wanted to work in the film industry and live abroad during my college career.  During my search, I was open to whatever Google would throw at me. To my surprise, I found out that Cape Town has a great creative scene with a plethora of resources to put together a production. VACorps has a great online presence and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to fill out the forms on their website and let the experts take over and match me with a good internship. Where did you do your internship? 

Rob: I worked for a production company called Big Sky Productions. What was your role at your internship – what tasks were you charged with? 

Rob: During my internship, no day was ever the same.  I was given responsibilities from the beginning and was excited to see what was going to happen.  A few of the jobs that I was able to do were casting photography, location scouting, camera assisting, editing, and more. Did you enjoy your internship? 

Rob: I thoroughly enjoyed my internship experience.  Not only was I entrusted with crucial jobs for Big Sky, but everyone there was very supportive of my limited time in Cape Town.  Whether it was giving me time off to travel, tips about the city or connections with other creatives, Big Sky made my time in Cape Town memorable and well worth every penny for the plane ticket. Do you think your internship will be (or has been) helpful in your ultimate job hunt? 

Rob: Without a doubt, my internship has been vital to my job hunt.  The connections that I made with creatives all around the world have helped develop my network and have allowed me to further pursue film on a freelance basis.  Additionally, considering where I’m at in my professional career, the work experience that I gained was invaluable and has proved beneficial even on other job fronts. How did you find life in Cape Town? 

Rob: Life in Cape Town was fabulous.  All of the great assets that the city has to offer are extremely accessible and the people living there take full advantage of nature, food and culture. What about the city surprised you most? 

Rob: The biggest surprise about Cape Town was how affordable it was.  There are so many activities that people can do without spending a lot of money, and when you do spend, it is worth it. What is your favourite Mother City memory? 

Rob: My favourite Cape Town memory was getting up on Saturday morning and heading to the Old Biscuit Mill for delicious food with great friends – it is the perfect way to kick-start your weekend. What is one thing you recommend that all future interns do? 

Rob: I would recommend that you try to do as much as possible on your personal “Cape Town bucket list”, but most importantly, leave a couple tasks unchecked so it gives you an excuse to come back. What did you find challenging about life in Cape Town? 

Rob: The biggest challenge about life in Cape Town is simply developing a strong sense of awareness about your surroundings - not only for your own safety, but also to realize how magical a city Cape Town is. The lifestyle is very unique and there are adjustments that need to be made, but embrace them and you will not regret it. What advice could you give to future interns that could help them acclimate to the Mother City? 

Rob: VACorps really fosters a great orientation to the Mother City.  Not only do they plan a city tour, but you are placed in living arrangements with other interns your age that have been living in Cape Town for anywhere from a couple days to many months, which makes your transition a breeze. What did you think of the VACorps programme overall and what was the best part? 

Rob: The VACorps programme is what made my time in Cape Town so worthwhile. Even though I was only in the city for a couple months, my seamless transition was a testament to the effectiveness of the programme.  They listened to what I was looking for in an internship, found a great match and provided all of the necessary essentials I needed to allow me to squeeze as much as possible out of my limited time in Cape Town. 

The best part about the programme is the planned activities for all of the interns. Whether it is a Friday afternoon wine tasting or a 10-day trip to Mozambique, the planning was always well polished and allowed for the interns to just soak up the experiences and not have to worry about the little details. Would you recommend it? 

Rob: Not only would I recommend it, but I have multiple friends that have gone through the programme after me and had equally amazing experiences.  The folks running VACorps are top-notch individuals who want the best for anyone interning in Cape Town. Would you recommend Cape Town as an internship destination overall? 

Rob: I would whole-heartedly recommend Cape Town as an internship destination.  It is unique and special.  The charm and culture of the city is only fully understandable if you experience it yourself.  If there is ever anyone who is considering making the voyage to the Cape, I encourage them 100% to do so and I ask them if I can come with. What’s your favourite word that you learned in Cape Town? 

Rob: My favourite word that I learned in Cape Town is “howzit”.  You can likely catch me saying “howzit ma bru?” to my friends and strangers back here in the States, and it will stick with me until I go back and learn another new favourite word. 


Want to learn more about VACorps programme? We interviewed the founders of the intern abroad initiative.


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