by Patrick Healy, Class of 2017
The first time I entered the Silver was January 2013. Re-opened and established in 2003 as the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, the Silver was a local cinema house founded almost seventy-five years ago in the heart of Silver Spring, Maryland. After hard times though in the 1980s, the theatre closed its doors, preserving the single screen and all of its art deco stylings inside. The American Film Institute in Los Angeles, California,
purchased the location in the early 2000s, restoring the original theatre while building an additional two smaller screens for a total of three theatres. Now, in 2013, I was a senior in high school, and had sworn for the first time to see all nine Best Picture-movie nominees before Oscar day. My dad and I arrived at the AFI Silver that night in January to see Ben Affleck’s Argo, which had previously premiered in October and was not yet out on BluRay or OnDemand. Walking into the theatre was like taking a trip to a different era; it was art-deco style and simply something I had never witnessed before. I had discovered something that was truly of another time.
A few months later, during the summer between my senior year of high school and college, I was tasked with finding a paying job; I had only interned before, and had no retail or sales experience whatsoever, so of course the search went great. After trying probably every J-Crew and Barnes&Noble in the Metropolitan DC area, I crossed paths with the AFI Silver Theatre again one afternoon in Silver Spring, and following the ideal of serendipity, I decided to drop off my resume.
A month later I was hired. I remember my boss pointing out how most of my work would be on the first floor of the establishment, making popcorn and selling tickets, and that, unlike my previous work experience, I would not be interning here, nor should I even dream of it. I asked him if in the past people have ever moved up as a ticket-taker or popcorn-maker in my position to work or intern in the executive office of the theatre. He said “never.”
About one year and four months later, I proved him wrong. Of course, he no longer works here, but that is beside the point. What gave me
joy was not proving him wrong but proving myself as worthy to work with those in our executive office. This past spring I have interned in the programming department of the American Film Institute, the parent company that owns and operates the AFI Silver Theatre. A typical day at my internship often includes the creation of some marketing piece, such as a flyer for a film series or a poster for a festival, that I, as an intern, have creative control over and work with people in both the marketing and programming department to seek final approval before implementation. My supervisor is the assistant programmer, and our boss is the director of programming. We work very closely as a team, and I help with all basic ground-work that has to be laid out for us to show a series or produce a film festival. I feel like an integral part of the department.
I have worked at the Silver for about two years now on the first floor, selling tickets, making popcorn, and talking with customers about what we will be showing. Now, interning in the office on the third floor, my experience goes far above what I expected, and I have been happily surprised at how much my coworkers acknowledge and respect my opinions. The lesson I truly learned, though, was that we create our own
paths in life. We can listen to others, and we can succeed when we follow their instructions…but I have never found happiness through someone else’s view of what should be my success. The happiness I have found is when I, for some odd reason or another, decide to tell my boss that one day I will intern for the office upstairs, and I do just that. Don’t let others tell you what a success is. The best part about life is that you get to decide.