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By Avery Thalberg

Before officially tossing my cap in the air at my high school graduation, I had the opportunity to participate in an internship to gain real world, professional experience. While my friends headed to more traditional office internships, I took a different route, dedicating my time to The Independent Picture House (IPH).

On my first day, I helped facilitate one of IPH’s Indie On Wheels events, a mobile cinema project making films available to those less able to come to the cinema. A docuseries segment, Democracy for Sale: Money in Politics and Voting Rights, was screened at the University City Regional Library. Following the screening was a group discussion about the film led by Mary C. Curtis, a journalist, podcast host, and educator; along with the opportunity for participants to register to vote with The League of Women Voters of Charlotte Mecklenburg. Being involved with the setup and support during the event, I was struck most by how the collaboration of the different groups and their representatives promoted diversity among the moviegoers and a dynamic experience.

Working behind the concessions stand, I got a different taste of how IPH operates. Beyond filling sodas, scooping popcorn (and coming home smelling like it!), and scanning tickets is a tight-knit crew. Their camaraderie and passion for film is palpable.

Rounding this front-of-house experience, I also had the opportunity to learn what happens behind-the-scenes during the weekly IPH Marketing Check-In. The idea of collaboration constantly guided this meeting, where the planning of future screenings was always met with a discussion of how to incorporate local groups. This is clearly an important principle to the creative team. With my brief experience interning at IPH, it is clear that the entire team is committed to the cinema’s value of community impact–working to spread the arts throughout the Charlotte region and giving back through promoting important causes. That is exactly what makes IPH so special: their events and screenings are not simply to drive a business but also contribute in meaningful ways to the community.

It has become evident to me that IPH’s growth is inevitable, as their screenings and events attract more than just cinephiles, but also audiences whose various subjects of interest are addressed at the Indie (political activism, women’s health, etc…). This internship taught me skills in customer service, events, marketing, and teamwork, and it also reinforced the idea that The Independent Picture House is the epitome of Charlotte’s arts community.

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