Bringing Show Biz Savvy to Stern School of Business

Most people know it isn’t easy to make a living in the entertainment business. That’s why in 2008, New York University’s Stern School of Business launched a joint MFA/MBA degree program designed to bridge the gap between the “creatives” and the “suits.”

The partnership between Stern School of Business and the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at the Tisch School of the Arts aims to provide aspiring film producers the knowledge to navigate the fast-changing landscape of financing and filmmaking today.

“I want my students to have careers. And today that means being much more savvy about business,” John Tintori, the chair of NYU’s graduate film program who helped create the joint track, says in an interview with Variety.

Applicants must be accepted by both schools, and the program takes three years to complete, including two summers.  Students take core business classes such as accounting, finance and marketing in their first year at Stern School of Business. The second year is spent at the Tisch School of Arts, where they learn everything from camera skills to narrative storytelling.

In their final year, students take elective classes from both schools and are expected to devote summers to coursework, filmmaking and field experiences. The inaugural class is set to graduate this spring.

C. Samuel Craig, the Catherine and Peter Kellner Professor at Stern School of Business and director of Stern’s Entertainment Media and Technology Program, says in an interview with the Graduate Management Admission Council that the typical student wants to be a movie or television producer.

“They have to have all the analytical skills necessary to succeed in an MBA program,” he says, “but they also have to demonstrate the same level of creativity of someone who wants to be a film director.”

Craig says the NYU program differs from the few other graduate programs that combine business with film in the degree to which it is integrated between the business school and NYU’s school for the arts. Because deals to produce films have become much more complex, MBA-level expertise in finance can be invaluable, he says. “We felt it was critical that students get the full range of MBA skills along with the creative skills.”

Approximately 100 or so applicants have applied each year since the launch in 2008, and NYU has accepted about four students per year, with plans to boost enrollment to six or more, Tintori tells Variety. Tuition for the three years totals about $149,000.

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