BBA Students went to Los Angeles in the spring to learn more about the film industry. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The BBA Program’s two-year-old concentration in film and media management, offered in conjunction with Emory’s department of Film Studies, is designed to provide students with educational content and professional exposure that will greatly enhance their ability to pursue a career in the film industry.  The program takes pride in offering participants a unique combination of integrated film and business coursework, along with access to Emory’s impressive alumni network in the film industry.

Such an opportunity was offered in the Spring with a two-day trek to Los Angeles where 18 students met with Hollywood agents and studio executives.

It was through a packed itinerary that included a large number of insightful meetings with industry experts along with extensive behind-the-scenes studio and lot tours that students gained, as finance faculty member Tom Smith puts it, a “very realistic understanding of what the industry has to offer from multiple perspectives.”   Smith teaches a film and finance course.

Through the incredibly generous cooperation of alumni and friends of the school, students had the opportunity to hear from executives, tour facilities and speak with a wide range of professionals at the Gersh Agency, Sony Pictures, Silver Pictures, Green Hat Films and NBCUniversal. The insights acquired were greatly enhanced during an alumni networking event in Beverly Hills where more than 85 people connected over food and drinks.

“Each and every industry professional we spoke to in Los Angeles warmly and enthusiastically encouraged the students and assured them, with hard work in the right places, they could find their place in the industry,” said Professor Matthew Bernstein, chair of Film Studies. “The entire trek was memorable, but of course there is a special significance for a member of Emory’s film faculty to see former students thriving in the industry.”

New BBA graduate Matt Gaynes who has a concentration in film and media management was also delighted to note “just how deeply Emory’s alumni have permeated the industry.”

“It was a truly encouraging experience to see how many people are in such high places in the film and media industry knowing that they came from Emory,” he said.

Because connections are vital to access in the entertainment industry, faculty members are particularly appreciative of alumni involvement.

“We were overwhelmed by the above-an-beyond support that our alumni provided,” said Andrea Hershatter, Associate Dean and Director of the BBA program who, along with Bernstein and Film Studies professor Eddy Von Mueller, has overseen and championed the establishment of the concentration.

“We are incredibly fortunate as a university that among our L.A. alumni we can count on rising stars with an absolute commitment to helping the next generation of Emory students succeed,” she said.

Being in Hollywood also helps students overcome any apprehension about heading West after graduation to tackle an ever-changing industry.

“Almost every person we spoke with told us to not be afraid to take the leap and head out to LA,” said Tyler Feinerman 12BBA, who also completed the film and media management concentration. “Even though [Professor] Von Mueller told us that countless times in class, it was refreshing to hear that from people who were in our position not so long ago. After the trek, I felt more confident about pursuing a more uncertain career path in LA.”

In addition to gaining confidence and contacts, participants were able to develop a much broader perspective about the industry and their own futures.

“Nearly all of [the alumni] asserted two immensely valuable facts,” explains Von Mueller.  “First, that personal relationships are the basis of almost all successful careers in the industry, and second, that there is no one path — everyone’s road forward is a winding one.  I think the trek helps start or cement exactly those kinds of personal connections for many of the participants and when they are further down that curving highway, some of them will look back and see that this trip to Los Angeles was where their journeys really began.”

– Meredith Farahmand