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Executive Education

The business in showbusiness

By Peter Walker for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- It is a decades-old move industry cliché -- the maverick director strives to bring their personal dream to life on celluloid, while the penny-pinching, non-artistic producer counts costs and lobbies for a lowbrow box office smash.

With the film industry growing in size and importance every year, and hundreds of millions of dollars of investment sometimes hanging on a single picture, this tension has never been greater.

Now, a leading US business school and a top arts establishment have teamed up to try to, as they put it, bridge the gap between the "creatives" and the "suits" with a new course that covers both film making and film financing.

The joint MBA/MFA (Master of Business Administration/Master of Fine Arts) degree is a partnership between New York University's Stern School of Business and the same institution's Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, part of its Tisch School of the Arts.

Students who complete the entire three-year course will emerge with not only a pair of graduate qualifications but a range of skills covering both the creative and business sides of film.

On the business part, students will learn about the increasingly complicated way in which many films are financed, with capital often now coming from industry outsiders such as hedge funds and investment banks.

However, they will also learn about the artistic side for all forms of film, video, and digital entertainment.

The course has already received endorsement from industry figures, among them leading move producer Laurence Mark, whose recent titles include "Dreamgirls" and "I, Robot."

"Show business is in some ways a bit nuttier than most businesses, yet it is a business nonetheless," he said.

"So it sounds to me like a godsend that with NYU's new dual-degree MBA/MFA for producers that there will soon be people out there who will actually have equal expertise in both the show and the business."

"New York City's film industry is the second largest after Hollywood, and contributes $5 billion annually to the city's economy, according to the mayor's office," added Thomas F. Cooley, dean of the Stern School..

"Media and finance converge here in New York City, so NYU is in a unique position to be able to offer future filmmakers a world-class business and world-class film education that reflects current market realities."

Students who sign up -- and they have to first be accepted separately by Stern and Kanbar -- will spend their first year at the business school, their second at the arts school and their third split between the pair.

The joint course follows increased recent cooperation between the schools' students, among this the NYU Stern Promotion Pictures Film Competition, which sees Stern and Kanbar graduate students produce branded entertainment films for corporations, some of them subsequently used for marketing campaigns.

The new degree even has its own benefactor, an anonymous donor who has "an unusual career" spanning both traditional asset management, and film financing and production. This person has endowed a scholarship fund of nearly $1 million for the program.


Yes, but can she finance it? Barbra Streisand in movie mogul mode.


FT MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Columbia, U.S.
3. Harvard, U.S.
4. Stanford GSB, U.S.
5. London Business School, UK
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Insead, France/Singapore
8. Stern, NYU, U.S.
9. Tuck, Dartmouth, U.S.
10. Yale, U.S.
Source: Financial Times 2007



The classic MBA is a two-year full-time program. Accelerated and distance learning MBAs are increasingly popular.

A typical MBA student has several years' work experience and is in their late 20s.

Those who take an Executive MBA, or EMBA, tend to be older, more senior managers.

Courses are expensive, but the rewards are high -- some new MBAs now get a $100,000 basic salary, according to a survey.


What would be your primary motivation for taking an MBA?
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