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Film and Television Apprenticeship

Training New Mexicans in Film Industry Professions

Katharsis Media‘s Film and Television Apprenticeship Programs support our overall mission to provide access to the performing arts through training and professional pathways. The mission of these programs are to provide professional level training and an inroad into film union membership for emerging New Mexico filmmakers.  

We offer both  Pre-apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Programs. 

Pre-apprenticeship programs are for youth ages 16-18, and apprenticeship programs are open to those over the age of 18. 

Pre-apprenticeship Programs (ages 16-18):

Pre-apprenticeship programs are ideal for youth and young adults who are considering a career in film and television but do not have any experience and are just getting started. The pre-apprenticeship program is completed in two 180-hour phases: an exploratory phase and a focus phase, for a total of 360 hours.


Eligibility: Age 16-18 / not completed high school. No previous experience needed for the exploratory phase. Focus phase is by invitation only. In general, we select 15 exploratory phase interns each semester and up to 8 of those will be invited to the focus phase. On rare occasions, we may invite an exceptional student with sufficient previous experience and a clear area of focus directly into the focus phase. This is extremely rare. In general, students must complete the (unpaid) exploratory phase to be considered for the (paid) focus phase. 


Pre-apprenticeship Phase 1: Exploratory Phase

The exploratory phase is an unpaid training phase that introduces pre-apprentices to the various careers available in film and television. Pre-apprentices rotate through each film department, observing or working in an assistant capacity as they learn the skills needed for each department to function. This rotation provides a more complete understanding of the film industry, allowing students to prepare for and determine an area of focus.  Exploratory phase pre-apprentices spend roughly 12 hours in each of 13 departments:


  • Art Department

  • Set Construction

  • Costumes, Electric

  • Grips 

  • Hair & Makeup

  • Locations

  • Office & Admin

  • Paint & Scenic

  • Props, Script

  • Set Dressing

  • Sound

  • Video

They spend an additional 12 hours specializing in one department of choice, and 12 hours learning the business side of being a freelancer, resume building, and soft skills, totaling 180 hours to complete the rotation. Those interested in acting can spend their 12 specialized hours in front of the camera or working on acting technique. Exploratory pre-apprentices spend time supporting studio shows and field projects in an observatory or utility role. In addition, they are trained on all studio equipment and are generally proficient at basic use of camera and audio equipment by the end of this phase.


This phase is an unpaid internship designed for those who have little to no experience in film and aims to help interns decide on whether the film industry is a good fit for them, and if so, which area of film is of most interest to them. More than a focus on specific skills, this phase introduces interns to the Industry. It gives them a clear understanding of the time and schedule demands, and measures their work ethic and level of dedication.

Pre-apprenticeship Phase 2: Focus Phase

Those pre-apprentices who work hard and demonstrate a clear interest and dedication will be invited to continue to the Focus Phase. This phase is a paid pre-apprenticeship program where pre-apprentices declare an area of focus and spend most of the next 180 hours working in that department. On studio projects and small field projects, they may find themselves taking the lead in the department. On larger projects, they will be assistants or utilities, and may lead under the supervision of their mentor. Pre-apprentices interested in acting will complete a hybrid version of this, splitting their time between in front of and behind the camera work. 



In addition, these pre-apprentices have the option to write and produce their own small crew studio series and are trained in basics of preproduction, live editing and basic post production. They work both in the studio and in the field on large and small projects.


Pre-apprentices earn high school credit and also receive IMDb credit for all productions they work on. 

Completion of this Pre-Apprenticeship Program also allows individuals to earn 15 of the 30 required qualifying union days for IATSE Local 480. 

Apprenticeship Programs (ages 18+):

Apprenticeship programs are certificate programs designed for those who are serious about a career in film and television. The program is divided into four phases. Apprentices can start in Phase 1 and then move through the subsequent phases, or they can advance by credit based on previous experience or education. 

Apprenticeship programs are paid. Phase 1 and 2 apprentices start at 15.90 per hour. Phase 3 and 4 apprentices start at 18.00 per hour. 

Phase 1: Exploratory Phase: This follows the same pattern as the exploratory phase for our pre-apprenticeship program, and those who completed our pre-apprenticeship program can skip this phase if they choose. Please see description above for additional details. 

Phase 2: Focus Phase: This also follows much the same pattern as the focus phase for our pre-apprenticeship program, and those who completed our pre-apprenticeship program can skip this phase if they choose. Please see description above for additional details. 

Successful completion of Phase 1 and 2 count toward college credit, receive IMDb credit, and receive 15 of the 30 days required for union membership in IATSE Local 480. 

Phase 3: Below the Line Apprenticeship & Phase 4: Above the Line Apprenticeship: 

Phase 3 & 4 apprenticeships differ in FOCUS rather than in level. Phase 3 apprentices continue to grow their skills in below the line roles, while Phase 4 apprentices grow their skills in above the line roles.  Both Phase 3 and Phase 4 apprentices take on leadership roles in their departments, mentoring younger interns and honing the skills required for their respective occupational tracks.  They generally do not work on small studio projects, but may serve as community liaisons and KM representatives on smaller field projects. On large sets, they apply for open crew calls and often serve in crew roles under the leadership of a mentor or department head as they work toward union or guild membership. 


Phase 3 and 4 apprentices also have the option to write and produce their own studio or field series and spend a portion of their time setting up and running the production office. They are trained in basics of preproduction, production, and basic post production.


These phases are paid apprenticeship programs designed for those who have experience in film and are working toward union or guild membership. These apprenticeships are designed to provide stable work and income between on-set days for larger paid projects and union work as they strive to earn the membership requirements for their respective union / guild.


Eligibility required for Phase 3 or 4: an application, interview and one of the following:


  • successful completion of Phase 2

  • successful completion of an approved post-secondary film certificate program

  • current enrollment on the IATSE 480 Overflow List with at least 10 union days

  • placement on the Industry Experience Roster


This internship level is ideal for recent college graduates and emerging filmmakers with demonstrated talent and interested in camera work, editing, or above the line roles. 

Phase 3 and 4 interns receive college and IMDb credit. Successful completion of Phase 3 provides 15 of the 30 union days for IATSE 480 membership if the intern has not received these 15 educational days from another educational institution

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