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SPE Hiring Practices... A bit of a shock


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#1 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 06:56 AM

I'm in a bit of shock.

 

As you may know, wiki leaks just indexed the Sony Leaks database and made it all searchable.

I thought I would pop over there and do a search on my fave directors and see if they get a mention.

While doing so I noticed Amy Pascal mentioning her niece worked at a small production company. I thought it was a slightly odd thing to say in a business email and it made me start ask to questions. I stated searching for keywords like Nephew and Niece and Son, Daughter etc which produced a ton of emails of people sending out Resumes (CV's) for their relatives. The emails were kinda extreme and a bit of a shock. I then decided to do a search on the word Resume to see how ordinary folks were treated. This is when my mouth fell open.

 

The search for Resume just turned up mountains of emails of people trying to get internships for their relatives. It was really hard to find people who weren't relatives. Finding just ordinary people with no connection to SPE at all was really difficult. On the face of it such people were treated far worse than anyone who had a connection. I guess it's not surprising that they feel the need to be nice to people who have a connection with other employees but it would be good it they made more of an effort to treat those outside the company as well as they do those who have an in. Nobody's contacting SPE were more likely to be treated like "I will try and fit this person in after my holiday".

 

Here are some examples of what is really going on:

 

This one is especially strange as they are fixing up an internship at WGBH which is the leading PBS station in Boston, so very prestigious but nothing to do with Sony really. Note she is a student at Yale too. I'm reminded of that stuff in Mullholland Drive. "This is the girl."

 

 

WGBH has a wide variety of internship positions (all of them for credit only) available (click here for a listing), and the contacts are specific to each department / position itself. There is a main email address to which she would submit her resume and cover letter: internships@wgbh.org.

 

Michael, if you find out that she has applied for a particular internship position, please let me know and I’ll send my contacts over there a note so they can keep their eyes out for her resume.

 

 

Get them into the golfing early:

 

My father told me that you had suggested to him that I meet with your son. I would very much like to do that. I suspect he had the same angst I am experiencing leaving USC, so hearing from someone who survived the transition would be helpful – particularly from a fellow Trojan and someone with a similar background. I don’t know if your son is a golfer, but if he is, then it’d be fun to play a round with him at Sherwood. Alternatively, I’d be happy to meet him at a time and place convenient for his schedule.

 

On the job front, I would like to start work at Sony in mid-September, if that is okay with you. For me, it’d be the perfect place to get started.

 

 

Hey yeah. It would be perfect for me too. I can think I can fit in working for SPE too, in October, if that is okay with you.

(note no question mark!)

and next the niece of the CEO of Direct TV. Lets hope SPT channels are a must carry on Direct TV in exchange for this help:
 

Would it be possible for you to meet with this young woman. She is the niece of Mike White who is the CEO of Direct TV. Huge thanks. M

 

Michael,

 

I just met with Emily. I also introduced her to Wende Crowley who oversees our film/tv music licensing department.

 

Emily is a talented songwriter.  She wants to intern so she can learn more about publishing and writing. If she wants to work here this summer, we will be happy to put together a program for her.


Edited by Freya Black, 18 April 2015 - 06:58 AM.

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#2 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:10 AM

Well it's worth a try isn't it. I think this one is interesting as I might have gone with the angle "I know you are all powerful and your influence spreads across the entire media domain":

 

I hope this e-mail finds you well and happy. My son in law, Andrew *********, is interviewing for a job in the Software Engineering Division of GSN Games. He  has told me that this is his " Dream Job". Andrew is extremely bright and passionate about his chosen field. I remembered that Sony Pictures Television has an interest in this business and was wondering if you could be of assistance. I am well aware that ones influence in a matter like this is limited. I am looking for and edge if he is a finalist for the position. I have attached Andrew's  resume as well as the specific job in the GSN system. He has finished the initial interview process with HR and meets tomorrow with Artie Leary, Senior Scrum Master in Waltham, Ma.
  I will be returning to New York on May 15th from Tucson. I will be in CT till late Sept.. When you're in NY, and should you have an opening in your schedule, I'd love to see you. Thanks for your time and please say hi to Amy.

 

 

Are you good looking? Do you have nice hair? Maybe there could be an entry level position for you at SPE if you are vaguely related to someone there:
 

While I was in NY last weekend at a cousins wedding my younger cousin Sam whose resume is attached approached me
and asked if I could help get his name out there and possibly an opportunity would come out of it.
He is a good looking and very nice 26 year old man. He is just getting started so his resume reflects that.
I am sending this to you and Jessica and asking that you consider Sam for any entry level position that may

come

 


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#3 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:13 AM

More golf. Want to work for the studios? Forget film school, learn golf:

 

I'm not sure if you remember me or not, but I played golf with you
and Bob ********** at Bob's place in Florida several years ago. I 
also saw you at Julie *********'s wedding.

My neighbor in Florida has a daughter who you met a few weeks 
ago. It was at the National Broadcasting Society convention and
she was the second person to ask you a question from the floor. She 
has done some work at VH1 and is currently looking for work in your industry 
starting in September after her current internship is over.

 


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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:18 AM

Short and sweet:

 

Here’s my lad’s resume. He would love to reach out to you,  introduce himself & get a little guidance on what path to pursue for financial/business opportunities with SPT.

 

Thanks love!!

 

xxxooo

 

 

Here's an example of someone getting extra special treatment. Rather than getting no reply:

 

Can u e mail me your resume.

Sent on the run

> On Sep 23, 2014, at 10:52 AM, ""<> wrote:
>
>
> My name is Will **** (Dennis ********r's stepson).
>
> He shared with me the email between you two, and I thought I'd shoot you an note. He had some great things things to say about you, and it sounds like we have some common interests.
>
> I have a great enthusiasm for the media field, with a few years of sports producing under my belt as an intern. I'm almost finished school and look forward to getting my degree so I can really pursue my passion.
>
> Whenever you are free, I'd love to chat about the industry, my career, and just pick your brain if you don't mind!
>
> Thanks so much,
>
> Will

 


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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:25 AM

This one's very weird and especially alien to those of us in the UK. Note Step Son, so not a blood relative. How can he inherit those billionaire genes then? Sorry no blood, not "born to rule". Hence I'm not sure what the angle is here. Maybe it's that some of the step-father may have rubbed off on the son at breakfast or something. Anyway his stepfather is a billionaire so they suspect his step-son will be very good. Note as well, that yet again, they are trying to fix up work outside of SPE!

 

I have not met this young man, but his father in law is amazing and a major major force in the new india.  and a billionaire in his own right who you should meet.  (he is an early supporter of Modi).  Would someone at Ares meet with Mahesh, he graduates from Stanford Business School this spring and is eager to work in finance in Los Angeles.  I suspect he is v good.

 


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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:34 AM

My son Brian wants to be a cinematographer:
 

We have summer interns. Send me his resume ASAP   Steve 

Sent on the run 

On Dec 17, 2013, at 4:49 PM, "> wrote:
 

Hi, Steve, and happy holidays to you and your family.

 

I am once again asking you for a favor (I am hoping to pay you back some day by donating an organ to you or any member of your family, so be sure to keep me in mind if any of you—God forbid – ever need one.  I’m O+, the universal donor).  Anyway, this is for my Brian, who is looking for a summer gig in production.  He’ll do anything – PA, assistant to PA, etc.  His focus is cinematography and still photography but again, anything would do. 

 

I’ve heard that SPE no longer has a summer intern program but I thought, if you have any production going this summer, you might have a slot for him there.  Obviously money is not an issue, it’s about the experience.  And if you don’t have anything, any ideas about where to look would be much appreciated.

 


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#7 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:52 AM

This one is interesting as it's not clear what is going on:

 

My name is ****** ******* and I am a junior, strategic communications, major at The University of Kansas. I am currently studying abroad at The University of Westminster in London. I’m reaching out to you because I am very interested in a possible internship at Sony Pictures or Sony Music this upcoming summer. This past summer, I interned at DeVries, a beauty PR agency, in New York City and would love to intern again in either New York or Los Angeles. Prior to studying abroad, I was my sorority’s (Sigma Kappa) Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator and highly involved with Public Relations Student Society of America. I have always been interested in entertainment/media PR and would love an opportunity to gain knowledge in the film or music industry, which is why an internship at either Sony Pictures or Sony Music would be an incredible opportunity. I wanted to be on your radar as soon as possible because I know this is a very competitive internship. Attached is my current resume and two letters of recommendation from previous employers. Please let me know if you need any additional information. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

At least they can write a nice clear letter. What's interesting is that the response to this is a big question mark sent to someone else who replies:

 

Hi Steve:This is my **** ***** daughter....who I was telling you about.   I told her she needs to apply online and that you were not involved in the decision making process.  A bit presumptuous that you would call her about this.If you delete and do nothing with it that's fine.
I'm annoyed **** asked in the first place.
Hope your trip is going well.

 

 

So they are assuming the question mark means that this is totally out of order. So we have to consider whether being a Sigma Kappa isn't the thing if you are trying to get a job at SPE (or possibly going to a former Polytechnic in London) or that she isn't the right kind of person to be asking in some other way. It's good that they recognise this kind of behavior might be wrong and out of order but we have seen already time and time again that it isn't actually thought of that way. I actually wonder if Steve was just asking "is this your friend?" to know if he should give them preferential treatment or not. His further reply might indicate that:

 

Got it.  Thought so.

 


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#8 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:59 AM

That's just a small sample of this stuff. If you want to go and see more either for a giggle or because it might be relevant to your future than there is loads more but I don't have time right now to post any more here. I'm not sure how I feel about the SPE hack as I'm quite into people having some privacy. HOWEVER this is a big insight to what is actually going on in these large companies. I would assume that there is nothing special about SPE in this regard and the fact that they are actually trying to arrange internships for their relatives in other companies, through people at SPE who have wide connections, would indicate that this stuff is very widespread.

 

It's a shock for me as we tend to assume that the States isn't as bad for this as the UK with its harsh class system. Getting a glimpse at this stuff makes me wonder what a large UK company would be like for this kind of thing.

 

It's all very messed up.


Edited by Freya Black, 18 April 2015 - 08:00 AM.

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#9 Jeremy Cavanagh

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 12:54 PM

Freya,

 

I'm originally from Australia and have lived in the UK for years and I think Australia has a worse class system than the UK, why should the US be any different.


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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 04:32 PM

Freya,

 

I'm originally from Australia and have lived in the UK for years and I think Australia has a worse class system than the UK, why should the US be any different.

 

It's a stereotype that the US is different in this respect and traditionally the caste system in the states has been run along different lines and of course different cultures organise things differently in this respect. I'm not sure quite what you are asking me there. Certainly my American friends are quite shocked by some of the more odd class based stuff we have going on in the UK. I am of course aware that there are the "IVY league schools" in America and all that stuff to do with whether you can think of yourself as being related to the "founding fathers" but as far as I know there aren't radio stations in America that exist to promote propaganda about the upper classes as we have in the UK. I never came across that kind of thing when I Iived there anyway.

 

If you are asking me what I think about the system in Australia then I have no idea as I've never been there and know little about it.

 

...but to be honest that wasn't where I was coming from, I was more coming at it from the point of view that I was shocked at the extent it was (and probably is) going on at SPE and that this is almost certainly going on to at the very least the same extent, if not a good deal more, in the UK and probably elsewhere as you are perhaps implying?

 

Basically I was aware of the problem but just not how acute and extreme it was. I wouldn't have expected to find that the Resumes of ordinary people were buried in the sheer quantity of Resumes from people trying to get an in for their relatives. Nor the harsh differences in attitude that you see in the emails.

 

I think this kind of information as revealed in the leaks is helpful as it allows you to make more informed decisions about things.

 

Freya


Edited by Freya Black, 18 April 2015 - 04:34 PM.

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#11 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:15 PM

More golf. Want to work for the studios? Forget film school, learn golf:

 

Why do you think we all play golf???  I enjoy the sport but I do more business than anything else out on the course...

 

G


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#12 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 18 April 2015 - 07:58 PM

Those all seem actually kinda timid. And yes, just goes to show why anyone would actually play golf and why country clubs are vitally important economic engines.


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#13 Richard Boddington

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 03:04 AM

Does any of this really surprise you?  This happens in EVERY industry on the planet.

 

If my son was applying for a job at a firm where a good friend of mine worked, of course I'd call him and say, "hey can you help out my son?"  Any parent would do that.

 

What's more interesting is that neither Lucas, Spielberg, or Cameron, had any parents or relatives that where connected to the movie industry, yet all three of them broke in and became the biggest names in film.

 

I had zero connections to the movie industry, yet here I am directing my fourth feature film.

 

R,


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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 06:05 AM

Does any of this really surprise you?  This happens in EVERY industry on the planet.

 

 

That doesn't surprise me at all no. I'm well aware there is a lot of Nepotism and other nonsense going on. I'm also very aware that this happens in every industry on the planet. I'm constantly saying to people on here "Hey that isn't just limited to the movie industry".

 

What did surprise and shock me was the sheer volume of it and the fact it that ordinary people were swamped in a deluge of this stuff to the extent that it was hard to find people who weren't someones relative. Also the way that people who didn't have an in of some kind were actually treated quite badly in comparison. I expected to find a lot of it which was why Amy mentioned her niece it made me search for those keywords. I wasn't shocked until I did the more general search on the word resume and found nothing but resumes being sent from peoples parents and uncles etc.

 

Freya


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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 06:09 AM


I had zero connections to the movie industry, yet here I am directing my fourth feature film.

 

R,

 

I know. I'm not coming at it from quite the same angle you seem to think I am.

I actually think it's helpful to see this stuff and the sheer volume of it and have an understanding of that.

 

Freya


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#16 Freya Black

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 06:12 AM

Those all seem actually kinda timid. And yes, just goes to show why anyone would actually play golf and why country clubs are vitally important economic engines.

 

Oh well I found them entertaining. :)  There is probably far better stuff in there if you can be bothered to trawl through it. I couldn't be bothered as I have better stuff to be getting on with.

 

Freya


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#17 Freya Black

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 06:16 AM

Why do you think we all play golf???  I enjoy the sport but I do more business than anything else out on the course...

 

G

 

See I am surprised by this. Clearly I need to up my game. Do you think I could get away with just hanging around the field leaning on golf clubs?

Personally I think this golf thing is just an unwelcome distraction from Archery.

 

Freya


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#18 Jeremy Cavanagh

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 08:18 AM

 

I'm not sure quite what you are asking me there.

I'm just pointing out, like the others here, that it is not peculiar to the UK nor one industry. You have pointed out an important thing that needs airing but Boddington's response shows that its possible to push past things like nepotism.


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#19 Gregory Irwin

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 12:21 PM

This just proves once again that one needs more than a particular talent for a craft to succeed in this industry.  There's the key word: "Industry".  This is Show BUSINESS.  If you don't have a business plan to go along with that talent, it's a very tough mountain to climb.  Whether it's golf or archery, it doesn't really matter if it opens leads to contacts and business relationships.  

 

As for me, I didn't have a single contact to break into this industry but I've always had good business sense.  That has always been my first and foremost approach to this along with being good in the camera department.  I just hope it continues to work for at least the next seven years or so when I can begin considering hanging this whole thing up.

 

G


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#20 Freya Black

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Posted 19 April 2015 - 01:45 PM

This just proves once again that one needs more than a particular talent for a craft to succeed in this industry.  There's the key word: "Industry".  This is Show BUSINESS.  If you don't have a business plan to go along with that talent, it's a very tough mountain to climb.  Whether it's golf or archery, it doesn't really matter if it opens leads to contacts and business relationships. 

 

Very true. Talent or ability in some form is the most overrated aspect of things quite often. Unless that talent is in doing business or sales or something useful like that!

 

Freya


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