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a film by Cynthia Helen Pandev


Money is not the root of all evil Illegal Unpaid Internships are!


In Canada, each year approximately 300,000 individuals (mostly female) take on unpaid work in the form of internships, but the number is likely much higher due to our government's lack of interest in tracking illegal unpaid internships, or even recognizing that they exist.


Pay Your Interns! is a brutally honest, unapologetic critique of the shady practice of Canadian employers turning a blind eye to the Employment Standards Act by “hiring” interns, who are expected to perform the work of a “paid” employee, for free!


What is an intern? What is the difference between a legal/illegal internship? Is a volunteer an intern? Is an intern an unpaid employee? What is our government doing to protect young professionals from unscrupulous employers looking for free labour? What can an intern do to protect their workplace rights? Pay Your Interns! answers these questions & many more.


The film delivers information and communicates ideas in a visually cheeky way by juxtaposing archival footage against interviews with advocates, brave unpaid interns, rally protesters, and people on the street, who offer their take on volunteerism, internships and paid employment.


Pay your interns! is not just informative and provocative, it's fun, too! And, the film's message is simple and clear - you guessed it - Pay Your Interns!



The first time I heard the term “intern” was during the Clinton/Lewinsky situation. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what an intern was; I wasn’t aware of the differences between paid/unpaid internships, or labour laws in the US and Canada protecting the rights of trainees. 


I continued living a life of blissful ignorance until Fox Searchlight, the studio behind the hit movie “Black Swan”, broke both New York state and federal minimum wage laws by failing to pay two interns who had worked on the set of the Oscar-winning film. The interns claimed the right to a paycheck and a federal district judge listened by ruling in their favour. People started to take notice, employers in particular. People started to talk; the “conversation” began. 


Pay Your Interns! evolved out of my research into the issue and my personal experience. Even though I am a pro picture editor, I have taken on unpaid work in the form of internships in the hopes of gaining new skills and more importantly, work. I failed to attain either, but what I did gain was the courage to make a film about an issue I am very passionate about: free labour.


I made Pay Your Interns! to not only communicate ideas and present opinions, but also to be part of the “conversation”. Free labour in the form of unpaid internships is wrong! An intern may lack experience, but surely their time has monetary value and they should be paid at least minimum wage. 


Pay Your Interns! Screenings: The Spoke Club; MFF (Macedonian Film Festival); University of Toronto; University of Ontario Institute of Technology; Pay Your Interns! Spring Summit (Innis Town Hall); LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference; CLIFF (Canadian Labour International Film Festival); TILFF (Taiwan International Labour Film Festival).


Director's Statement

"Thank you for Pay Your Interns! Cynthia: one of the few films on this topic. It does an elegant and compelling job of touching on virtually every issue that is connected to the question of unpaid internships." 

Ross Perlin, author of Intern Nation


"Cynthia's dedication and hard work are exemplary. Pay Your Interns! message and its impact are clear and courageous." 

Naguib Gouda, former President and CEO of Career Edge Organization


"Pay Your Interns! truly reflects the hardships faced by unpaid interns. Cynthia has done an excellent job in demonstrating that these issues are real and require redress."

Schenella Pinto, Director of Research and Labour Policy and Executive Team member of the Canadian Intern Association 


"Pay Your Interns! is an interesting look into the fight to change perception and legislation around unpaid internships."

Stephane Hamade, Board of Directors member of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), the Federation of Students


"Pay Your Interns! is an engaging and informative introduction to the problems surrounding and political responses to the recent explosion of unpaid internships in a precarious economy. A great primer."

Dr. Tanner Mirrlees, Assistant Professor, Communication and Digital Media Studies Program at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)


"Pay Your Interns! highlights the young voices speaking out about the injustices of unpaid labour and the activists working to reform the internship system. The film, a deep look at some pressing issues facing young workers today, is must-see classroom viewing."

Dr. Nicole S. Cohen, Assistant Professor, Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology at the University of Toronto, Mississauga

"Pay Your Interns! explores how precarious and insecure work is harming the next generation of workers. Students, young workers, parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in the lives of young people in Canada should watch this film."

Andrew Langille,  Barrister & Solicitor, General Counsel for the Canadian Intern Association, Youth & Work blog founder 

"In Pay Your Interns! Cynthia highlights the voices of unpaid interns and intern advocates, and manages to make an often misunderstood and confusing topic easy to comprehend. This film is essential viewing for interns who want to learn about their rights, employers who are considering hiring interns, and policymakers, researchers and labour advocates looking to take action on one of the biggest labour issues impacting the next generation of workers."

Katherine Lapointe, Organizer, Communication Workers of America, Canada (CWA)


Cynthia, I really admired how you set up the interview shots and edited the material. I can't even imagine how many hours you committed to the project, but your finished film is definitely a testament to a lot of hard work ... and a very watchable documentary.

Marlene Murphy, Senior Producer/Writer, CBC Television


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