Alumni Spotlight: Niko Schuelke

BBC Studios– Alumni Spotlights highlight the success of THF interns with BBC Studios, a Platinum Diversity Partner.

Niko Schuelke (THF ‘21)

1) Please share your internship title.

Business & Legal Affairs Intern

2) Please describe your duties & responsibilities.

Executed 15+ merchandise license agreements, rights summaries, and customs authorization letters with an emphasis on film, TV, and intellectual property law.

Analyzed potential risks for 15+ contracts to make the final draft process more expedient for the BLA and Licensing teams.

Researched and analyzed music submissions in podcasts by assessing licensing and clearances for fair use.

3) How did your role/department fit into BBC Studios overall business objective/mission?

BBC Studios – Americas’ motto is, “Well led and simpler,” meaning that our mission is to continue discovering efficient ways of developing, producing, and selling our shows, making deals, and sustaining our competitiveness in the industry. The Business & Legal Affairs department oversees every deal in the Americas, such as consumer products, licensing agreements, and talent contracts.  Our division also facilitates meetings with our colleagues in the UK, Canada, and Latin America.  BBC Studios would not be as successful as they are without Business & Legal Affairs.

4) What did you like most about interning with BBC Studios?

I loved collaborating with my team. I worked with a core team of four and partnered with others in licensing/consumer products and sales distribution.  I also enjoyed holistically learning about the business of scripted and unscripted television.  Ekin Kara and Lisa Vollen’s Lunch and Learns in different avenues of the business, like Unscripted Production and Development, were extremely eye opening.  The absolute best part of my internship with BBC Studios was discovering mentors to help guide me in my career.  My former direct-supervisor, Vernon Chu, has been an excellent person to go to for advice and questions about navigating the industry.

5) What were the most challenging parts of your role and how did you overcome those challenges?

The most challenging parts of my new role were learning legal language without a law background, overextending myself, and properly navigating an internship in a virtual environment. However, Ekin, my direct-supervising team, and fellow interns were always available for support.  Vernon reassured that I should never be afraid to ask questions based upon subjects that were completely new, like merchandise and program license agreements, customs authorization letters, and fair use analysis.  My fellow interns suggested more efficient ways of organizing my workload rather than overextending.  More importantly, Ekin helped me navigate how to balance out executing my deliverables while fostering new professional relationships.

6) What skills or talents (hard/soft) were most essential to be effective in your internship role?

The skills that were most essential for me to be effective in my internship role were my previous knowledge of BBC Studios – Americas content, like Dancing with the Stars, Life Below Zero, and Top Gear America. It was also important to read the trades, like The Wrap, Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety, so I would be knowledgeable on what was happening in the industry.  Effective communication with varying levels of personnel and being a student of the game were instrumental in being a successful intern.  Yet, the most crucial skill that assisted me through my internship was networking, especially after our Lunch and Learns.  If I was not comfortable reaching out to industry professionals, like Julie Mack, the Manager of Production and Development at BBC Studios – Americas, I would not be the company’s current Unscripted Office Production Assistant in Los Angeles.

7) How has your internship experience impacted your career goals?

My internship experience has helped elevate my confidence to further pursue production management as a career, specifically in Unscripted Television. I am currently in pursuit to become an Assistant Office Production Coordinator, to a Production Coordinator, a Production Manager, to the Manager of Production and Development of a production company.

My internship has also inspired me to pay-it forward and help others who look like me apply themselves to become industry leaders in Motion Pictures, Scripted, and Unscripted TV.  In fact, I recently became the Co-Lead of Campus Ambassador Programs for FUTURE NOW Media Foundation, Inc.  As a Co-Lead, I’ll be assisting with coordinating our FUTURE NOW Media & Entertainment Conference, which brings unprecedented access and opportunity for leaders on the forefront of the entertainment industry and undergrad and graduate students to connect, learn, and grow together!


8) What advice would you give to THF interns as they begin internships/careers in media?

The advice that I would provide to current and future THF interns as they begin their internships/careers in media would be to speak with as many people from each department at your host companies as possible and ask them a lot of relevant questions. Internships are quick, so I highly suggest utilizing your time wisely and taking advantage of every opportunity, like asking for 20-minute conversations, and leading an Intern Engagement Council, if offered.  Be eager and ready to learn, but don’t allow your eagerness to off-put the people around you.  Remember to never be afraid to ask questions if an assignment/task does not make sense, learn how to balance out executing deliverables and networking internally, and know that your THF community is always there to help.  The Motion Picture and Television industry was not made for people who look like us, yet we have proven that we not only belong in this business, but are leaders taking the charge.