Like many people, Joshua Lewkowicz filmed an ice bucket challenge this summer. Unlike anyone else, he shot it at the DreamWorks Animation Studio outside Hollywood. And to clarify, it wasn’t him getting iced; it was those adorable stars of the big screen, The Penguins of Madagascar, who had accepted a challenge from movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Sound fun? It was, but it was also just another day on the job for Lewkowicz while completing a three-month internship in the DreamWorks videography department. The experience allowed the senior interactive multimedia major and filmmaker to spend plenty of time behind the camera, where he shot everything from promotional footage for How to Train Your Dragon 2 to reference footage that helps DreamWorks animators make their digital worlds more realistic.
But the biggest thrill for Lewkowicz might have been spending two days inside the DreamWorks motion capture studio, where work was underway on Kung Fu Panda 3. He had mentioned his interest in cinematography to his supervisors, so they sent him to watch a production team use specialized cameras to plan shots for the forthcoming feature. (The footage is given to artists and animators, who use it to create what audiences will eventually see on screen.) Lewkowicz thought he was there to observe, but instead they put him behind a camera rig and told him to find some cool angles and get some shots.
“That’s what was so great about the internship,” he says. “There’s a production pipeline at DreamWorks, and as an intern, you’re involved in it.”
Lewkowicz, who’s already an award-winning filmmaker (his movie Iris won Best Picture in TCNJ’s Campus Moviefest and Best Special Effects nationally), says he started making movies as a kid. He’s kept at it through the years, honing his talent while using whatever money he can save to buy new camera equipment. He takes his craft seriously. “I’ve always loved visual storytelling, and worrying about camera angles and lighting and such.”
Beyond the hands-on opportunities the internship offered, working at DreamWorks was also an incredible learning experience, Lewkowicz says. “I got to talk with artists from all areas of the production pipeline. These are people who were busy making movies. But they were never too busy to talk to me and show me how they did what they do. It was remarkable.”