1493156923431 - Making it in the film industry: One teen’s quest for success

Making it in the film industry: One teen’s quest for success

An East Auckland teenager has his sights set on seeing his name in film credits worldwide.

Joshua Sheehan, 18, is about to head off to the Big Apple to study at New York University’s film school, Tisch School of the Arts.

The former Pakuranga College student developed a passion for film during media studies.

But his interest in the movie industry ignited when he was given an internship on the upcoming blockbuster MEG, working for Barrie Osborne, the producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“I started one day a week as a camera intern,” Sheehan says. “The equipment is so expensive that I started from the bottom charging batteries and taking notes.

“But it was the environment that really fuelled me and just being on set increased my love for the film industry.”

Osborne says Sheehan was introduced to him by the director of photography, Tom Stern.

“Tom had met him and felt he was dead keen on working in camera.

“He’d taken the initiative to research the various positions and responsibilities in the camera department and proved himself to be diligent, responsible and a quick learner,” he says.

“As an intern this gave him exposure to how the camera department operates, an opportunity to learn, and to refine his career goals and how to achieve them.”

Sheehan says working alongside such key industry players was “incredible”.

“They’re really formidable because they’ve worked their way to the top and have so much respect around them. Their experience within the industry is massive.”

He now works as a special effects runner for New Zealand company Film Effects, which is involved in filming TV show The Shannara Chronicles.

“I get to see a different side of the film industry because instead of filming, I’m building and creating the sets. It’s a more practical, hands on approach.”

However, Sheehan’s time working in NZ will come to a pause in August when he heads to the Empire City.

He says one of the best days of his life was when he received his acceptance letter from NYU.

“I didn’t expect to get in. it was just a dream or a shot in the dark, so it was a really surprising thing.”

Sheehan will be studying an undergraduate in film and television.

“New York University’s film programme is one of the best in the world. They’ve had directors like Martin Scorsese and Vince Gilligan go through there,” he says.

Sheehan was also awarded a US$22,000 scholarship per year, which covers almost a third of his tuition and fees.

But even with the scholarship, his family needs to fund $84,000 for this year, with fees increasing every year after that. 

“My parents were planning to buy a house before I got in, but they’ve stopped that to help pay for my studies,” he says.

“I’m also working full-time, and everything I earn goes into savings.

“It feels like there’s a large weight on my shoulders to succeed, but I’m incredibly thankful to my parents for allowing me to go and sacrificing so much for me.”

One day he hopes to write something that will “connect with people and have huge impact on culture”.

“For instance, Once Were Warriors left such a cultural impact on the world and was a shocking enlightenment. I’m aiming to be able to write, produce and direct something like that,” Sheehan says.