Seems there's lot of chatter about "The Black Swan" and two "interns" who have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to get paid (at least minimum wage) for their unpaid internships at Fox Searchlight. NPR had a lengthy interview this morning with the 42 year-old accountant who is the lead plaintiff. He clearly was on board as a worker, not as a "student". And he realizes he's burned this bridge.
In my business affairs career we frequently had law students who came in for a three-month stint in our department. We certified the learning experience to their law school, and went to great pains to make sure it was a genuine learning experience. Sometimes the work product they turned out was completely unusable. But, occasionally, they did stuff that we actually sent out. contracts. red-lined revised agreements.
Many of those interns are now gainfully employed at studios, agencies and lawfirms; and they'll tell you that the internship was a valuable educational experience. But, some employers abuse the practice; seeking only unpaid workers.
What is it like in visual effects? Is this a pervasive practice? What can we do to help??