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The Business of Making Movies

The Business of Making Movies

Articles - Education

Dr. Fay Ran-Moseley

Dr. Faye Ran-Moseley

It’s no secret that the film industry
is part business and part artistry. But when it comes to film education,
a focus on the latter has long been the norm. Metropolitan College
of New York (formerly Audrey Cohen College) is breaking the rules
when it comes to film education and leaving a string of successful
graduates in its wake. With an MBA program that focuses solely on
Media Management, Metropolitan College is redefining the usual approach
to film school with fantastic results.

In an interview with MM,
Dr. Faye Ran-Moseley, the Dean of Metropolitan College of New York’s
Graduate School for Business discusses
the uniqueness of their program, its proven success and how a great
education translates to a trip to Cannes.

Jennifer Wood (MM): Can
you give me a bit of background on you: your education, experience
and how you first became involved with Metropolitan College of New York?

Dr. Faye Ran-Moseley (FRM): I’ve always been passionate about learning- and I have two doctorates,
seven master’s degrees, and an MBA to prove it! Learning shouldn’t
stop when one is 18 or 22, it should be a life-long endeavor. All
of the Metropolitan College programs are specifically designed for
adult students.

I started out as a writer/director
and multimedia artist, and ran Inroads, a theater/film production
company and a multimedia art center in Sohowith over 125 people.
It quickly became apparent that I had to take a renaissance approach,
understanding the aesthetic, economic, managerial and political
facets of the media industry, in order for the company and center
to succeed.

Later, a former colleague of mine
from Pitney Bowes, Barbara Smythe, was asked by Metropolitan College of New York to design an interdisciplinary
business program, and to create and develop a new paradigm for business
education. Knowing I had experience with humanities and business,
she brought me in to help develop what is now the undergraduate
business curriculum.

MM: Our tagline at MM
has long been “the art and business of making movies,” a dichotomy
that Metropolitan College of New York certainly
recognizes. Why the interest in the “business” side of things?

FRM: Film is inherently
an art and a business. There could be cinematic masterpieces lying
in basements all over the world but, without marketing and distribution,
they’ll never be seen. Knowing how to make quality films is important,
but managing and introducing films to the public takes a different,
specialized set of skills-skills that can absolutely be learned.
That’s what we focus on in this program. We teach students to turn
their passions and talents into viable projects, viable careers.

MM: Your educational
model is quite unique. Can you talk a bit about ” Purpose-Centered
Education?” How does the model work? How does it benefit students?

FRM: Purpose-Centered Education
is about having a reason for learning: applying what you’re learning
as you’re learning it and using what you learn to realize your career
goals. It’s reality-based learning, and it’s the best training for
real-world success.

Our MBA in Media Management program
is a one-year, three-semester long, 51-credit degree program. In
the first semester students write a business plan for a media-related
venture; in the second they implement it; in the third they focus
on marketing and disseminating their media-related product or service.
This business plan can be entrepreneurial, i.e., used to start a
business, or “intrapreneurial,” i.e., used within an existing business
or place of work.

Throughout the process, students
are mentored by high-level industry professionals. Graduates leave
Metropolitan College with an impressive business plan that’s already
underway. Sometimes they not only finish their project, but are
so excited that they expand their vision. For example, we had one
student who designed and implemented a business plan to create a
Website advertising Indian photographers. He’s now researching and
writing on an even broader topic: how to structure media industries
in the Third World.

MM: Your Media Management
MBA program focuses on not just film, but broadcasting, music, publishing
and other media outlets. Do students immerse themselves in all facets
of media, or can they concentrate on just one outlet?

FRM: Students come to us
from a media industry in which they’d like to further develop their
expertise, and each student does in-depth research on the industry
of his or her choosing and interest. But media and communication
arts students need to understand the history, structure, finance
and operating principals of all the major culture industries: broadcasting
and telecommunications, film, music, multimedia, publishing, visual
arts and theater and performing arts, because arts and culture industries
consistently interact and overlap. Students make connections to
these industries through fellow students, professors and alumni.
Small class sizes and strong alumni relations make this a very close-knit
community, and there are ample opportunities for networking and
the exchange of ideas.

MM: According to your
Website, your program teaches students to deal with the “complex
legal, ethical, economic and social dimensions” of a career in the
media. But many people, when thinking of a career in media, tend
to think only of the entertainment aspects. Can you give an example
of the legal, ethical, economic and social dilemmas or problems
that someone working in film is likely to deal with today?

FRM: If someone forgets
to get a copyright for a musical work or script, he or she can lose
control of his or her project. Students need to know how to read
contracts and negotiate them. Media and arts managers need to know
how to actualize their organization’s mission, construct and interpret
financials, resolve conflicts, motivate employees and reach and
satisfy their target markets. Students also need to be aware of
the dynamics of technological change. New technologies are constantly
inventing new art forms and reinventing the ways in which we express
ourselves, and communicate and interact with one another psychologically,
socially and economically, here and abroad. To that we have to add
the global nature of film. Movies are made, distributed and viewed
all around the world. We are a global film village, so the study
of international media-related business is crucial.

MM: Your MBA program
consists of a three-semester year. How does one go about obtaining
an MBA in one year? How intensive are the classes? When do classes
generally meet?

FRM: We’re in New York
City, in the heart of the business and entertainment capital of
the world. I think students feed off of the energy here, the culture,
the diversity, the pace of life, and come out of the program prepared
and excited to work in this very competitive industry.

Most of my students say the one-year
MBA in Media Management program at Metropolitan College was the
best educational year of their lives, and I think that’s due to
the fact that they’re totally involved in what they’re doing. It
takes dedication and discipline to succeed in our program. But the
students come in already loving what they do, and they want to learn
how to do it better. That lends itself to the experiential, immersional
nature of the program. The students are enacting their career goals,
they’re not understudies waiting for their future to happen.

Students complete three 15-week
semesters, meeting on Friday evenings from 5:45-10 p.m. and Saturdays
from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. This program is tailored to meet the needs
of working adults, and the students get a lot of support. Students
function as a learning community for one another.

MM: Part of your educational
design requires that students gain real life work experience while
pursuing their education. How easily are students able to balance
work and education? How do you work with students to help them balance
the two?

FRM: Our students are highly
motivated. When you’re doing something that’s relevant to your work,
you’re motivated to do your best. It’s also very common in media
and communication arts industries to multitask. So, I find that
our students are able to successfully balance work and education.
Computer assistance, tutoring and counseling services are also available.

MM: What companies is
the school working with in helping students to gain experience?
MBA students are expected to have prior experience in their desired
field. What sort of experience are you looking for? What is the
typical Metropolitan College student like?

FRM: We have a very hands-on
Office of Career Services for students to help them find internships
and work in their respective fields. We also work with the Media
Management Institute to bring in a wide variety of media-industry
guest speakers.

One of the great inherent advantages
Metropolitan College students have is networking with professors,
alumni and fellow students. We’re in New York City, which is truly
a melting pot of cultures and ideas. Our students make connections
with people from all over the world. We have alumni in highly-placed
positions in many media and culture industries. One former student
is an Advertising Director at AOL Time Warner. Another is a Vice
President at AMA (the American Management Association). A third
is a Financial and Special Events Coordinator at Time Inc., a division
of AOL Time Warner. Another MBA graduate has gone on to produce
plays in NYC, perform in films, on TV and on stage, and is currently
acting in Syndrome ,a play based on his concept, that is
receiving high praise from the BBC and New York Times, among
others. And one of our current students is a Vice President at Viacom.

Our students are bright, talented
and motivated. But there is no typical Metropolitan College Media
Management student because I think people in the entertainment industries
tend to be atypical. Students come from a wide array of backgrounds
in communication arts, radio, television, film, music. They also
typically come from the fine arts, museum administration, law, education,
public relations, creative writing, journalism, multimedia, publishing,
e-commerce, theater, dance and opera. They are a diverse group who
come from all over the continental United States and around the
world: Taiwan, Puerto Rico, Bangladesh, England, Puerto Rico, India,
Dominican Republic, Turkey, Israel, Canada, Latin America, you name
it. We offer excellent ESL courses to support our international
students.

MM: What is the one
way in which you think Metropolitan College distinguishes itself
as a film education institution? How is Metropolitan College different
as a business education institution?

FRM: You can’t be a filmmaker
without understanding how to develop and navigate your way through
the aesthetic, financial, technological and managerial aspects of
the industry. It’s not enough to just have the artistic skills.
You need to put students into a market context and ask: “Okay, you’ve
made your film, now how are you going to get it out there?” I want
to teach my students how to make a living doing what they love to
do, not just how to write a screenplay or storyboard a film. Most
film schools don’t do that, and as a result their graduates have
a hard time developing their respective careers. That’s what sets
us apart.

We were the first program in this
country to offer a developmentally designed real-world degree in
media and communication arts management and we remain the leader
in this field. Knowing how to make a film is just part one. Knowing
how to develop a career in film is part two. Both parts are equally
important. Our Website (http://www.metropolitan.edu)
gives a pictorial overview and tour of our unique program.

MM: Your Study Abroad
program is truly unique and exciting. Can you talk a bit about how
it works?

FRM: Every Media Management
MBA student attends and participates in the Cannes Film Festival
and Market. The study abroad program gives each student a first-hand
look at the conduct of international business in a vibrant, multicultural
setting. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip that our students cherish
and remember. At Cannes, one student signed a $3 million film deal.
Another was cast in two feature films. A third got distribution
deals for her movie in all French-speaking territories. Our Website
features a Cannes photo
journal
documenting the experience from our students’ point
of view.

MM: Any final comments
you’d like to add?

FRM: I believe in this
program. If you’re serious about pursuing a career in any aspect
of media, art or culture, whether you’re an artist, accountant,
producer or marketing manager, the Metropolitan College MBA in Media
Management is the only game in town.

For more information on Metropolitan
College of New York, visit
http://www.metropolitan.edu

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