A summer on the set of TLC’s Breaking Amish

use their summer vacation as a time to acquire an internship that can enhance his or her college education. For Sara Kaplan ’16, that internship was anything but ordinary: “This summer, I [interned] for a company called Hot Snakes Media, which is a reality and docu-series television production company based in New York City… Breaking Amish season three… was [my] main focus,” Kaplan said.

“Breaking Amish is about five young adults who were raised in an Amish community and are debating whether or not they want to stay in their faith or not. Technically, some of the cast members were on Rumspringa, which is, in their communities, a few years where restrictions are slightly more relaxed and they’re allowed to experiment a little outside of their faith…” Kaplan said. “This was just a kind of two-month period where they were exposed to New York City… and what life was like outside of the Amish community. The crew then filmed their journey and their reactions to this experience.” Kaplan explained.

“Additionally, a lot of them have different career aspirations—things that they can’t necessarily do if they’re Amish. So through this experience they were also able to get a taste of their possible futures see whether or not they wanted to do that with their life.” Kaplan said.

As an independent media studies major, Kaplan decided to work for Hot Snakes Media because of what her major entails. “[Media studies] is kind of like storytelling in a variety of different mediums such as creative writing, journalism, photography, video, radio… basically any different format to get information out there in a [creative way], ,” Kaplan explained. She continued, “I definitely learned that production is a path I really want to continue exploring. I love the idea of being able to tell a story in a meaningful and compelling way.”

Going to work every morning, Kaplan was never sure exactly what her day would bring. “As an intern for them… [I] was watching a lot of raw footage, logging, location scouting, transcribing… there was a whole list of things. But a lot of what I was doing wasn’t in the office; it was a lot of helping in the field with the shooting, getting people to sign press releases, stuff life that,” she said.

Kaplan believes that New York City heritage helped her be even better at the job. “Being a native New Yorker definitely did help because a lot of the tasks I was asked to do… you just need to know New York City very well. You just have to travel all around, you have to be [really on top of it],” Kaplan said. This was especially apparent when she had to help the cast move from one place to another in the city: “A lot of times, I would have to pick up the cast, and they’ve never taken the subway before. So, my job would be picking them up at their hostel and taking them to where we were shooting via public transportation. I have to know exactly what route I’m taking; I can’t be freaking out or worried about getting lost because I knew that the team was counting on me to get the cast to where they needed to go on time. Definitely having a good handle on the city helped me do my job better.”

Kaplan appreciates the fact that Hot Snakes Media gave her the opportunity to be more professional and truly experience what the production world was like. “It was really great because even though I started as intern, they expected a lot from me, and there was this sense where you needed to prove to them that you can go out and do the more highly regarded tasks. So, I think that this summer, I made myself work harder. They expected more from me, so I expected more from myself. I forced myself to be more professional… than I’ve been before and just show people [that I can do this],” Kaplan said. In the end it paid off, as Kaplan ended her summer with the title of  Production Assistant.

“It was a really amazing experience. I’m still trying to broaden my horizons in terms of different types of production,” Kaplan said, reflecting on her internship and where it will take her in the future. “Working in reality TV was a really great experience, but part of my major is experiencing all different types of mediums. So, now that I have reality TV checked off, I want to see what movie production is like, what broadcast journalism is like. This semester, I’m working on video-documentary, and I’ve already done a lot of radio and photography. So I’m really just trying to experience all the different types of ways in which news and entertainment can be delivered and this was a really great [way to do that].”

Working for Hot Snakes Media gave Kaplan the chance to share a unique story with the world, and she hopes to continue on this path in the future: “I’m really passionate about being able to share the lives and stories of others with the world, so why not help share the Amish story?”

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