Since 1995, Associate Dean and Director of the BBA Program Andrea Hershatter has been teaching a senior seminar that focuses on the entertainment industry. She has therefore come to know and work with many alumni who have successfully embarked upon careers in entertainment related fields. Among BBA alumni are prominent agents and executives—among them is Scott Budnick, executive-producer of The Hangover, the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time. Current BBA students are also increasingly getting more involved with film creation while they are still enrolled at Emory. In 2000, two Goizueta BBA alumni, David Roemer and Dan Costa, created iMovieFest in Atlanta — now Campus MovieFest— which has become the world's largest student film festival. Through this annual event, many Emory students have tried their hands at filmmaking, including BBA students Stephen Beehler and Chris Knific who have also been centrally involved with two independent Emory student films.
In addition to Business School momentum, the Emory Film Studies department recently shifted from focusing on theory and history to offering a significant number of courses that involve creating and directing films. These forces were the catalysts for the new Film and Media Management Concentration, a joint program of the Goizueta Business School and Emory’s Film Studies Department.
"I have always been committed to better utilizing the resources of Emory University and finding ways to partner with the College that make sense for BBA students as well as College students," Hershatter said. "This presents an opportunity for us to derive true synergistic value."
Over the last two years, Dean Hershatter, Dr. Matthew Bernstein, Chair of the Film Studies Department and Eddy Von Mueller, Lecturer in the Film Studies Department, began seriously discussing what a cooperative venture might look like. As a start, the Business School hired local producer Tracey Baker Simmons to offer a seminar on producing to students from both schools, and Von Mueller created a course called "The Biz" which focused on providing students with industry-specific insights and knowledge. The three considered this cooperation to be “Phase One” and began working toward next steps. Last summer, they traveled to Los Angeles to seek insight from those who were already succeeding in the industry. They hosted a dinner with 12 alumni, six from Goizueta and six from the College.
"We asked them how we could better prepare students, what we could have provided for them while they were at Emory, and how we could better tap into our substantial network of alumni in entertainment and film. Basically we wanted them to help guide us in providing more value for students interested in entering the industry," Hershatter said. This crucial alumni input helped shape phase two, which is geared towards assuring that students develop a working knowledge of both disciplines. The new film and media management concentration provides film students with background and exposure in business and gives BBA students an understanding of how films are conceived and created.
As Dean Hershatter explains, this program will provide two important benefits for those with Hollywood aspirations. First, the program will endow Emory students with a broader knowledge and thus help to differentiate them from the average graduate who has background in only film or business, but not both. Second, it will help students tap into Emory's network and build connections, which is "probably the single most important thing from an entry perspective."
Currently, the program is at full capacity with 25 rising juniors and 12 rising seniors. Hershatter anticipates the program will enroll approximately 25 - 30 new students each year, 10 who are BBA students, 10 who are Film Studies majors, and 5-10 who are pursuing both the BBA and a film studies major. An enhanced focus on internships and a planned LA trek to meet with agents and studio executives will offer students real exposure and an understanding of the complex world of Hollywood.
For BBA students, the concentration requirements include two core classes in Film Studies, two electives selected from an approved list (at least one of which must be in Film Studies) and a capstone course offered during senior year. For the semester-long capstone project, student groups will be asked to develop a concept and create content for television, film or new media. The project may take multiple forms, but students will be expected to generate original, creative content. At the end of the semester, students will pitch their ideas to entertainment executives. The project will help them not only develop their business skills by analyzing target audiences, the competitive marketplace, and the financial implications but also explore the fine art of creating content.
Hershatter hopes that once this concentration becomes fully established at Emory, there will be opportunities to secure funding for a third phase, which could include research projects, hiring specialized professionals to teach courses, and expanding the concentration in other directions. “The long term goal is to build the sort of program that will become one of Emory’s signature offerings,” she says. “We want to capture the imagination of prospective students, the minds of our current students, and the attention of industry professionals.”
Hershatter explained that in her Entertainment Seminar it has become much easier to find guest lecturers to talk about the industry because more of them are drawn from the BBA alumni who now have success stories to share. Her parting words to her class this year were "go kick butt and plan on my calling you to come back to speak!"
Julian Snow, BBA10