Make It Millikin: 1901 Productions

Student-run film company brings together creative and business elements

Student-run film company brings together creative and business elements

When it comes to Millikin University's hallmark learning model of Performance Learning, there is perhaps no better embodiment than its numerous student-run ventures. One such venture on campus is video production company, 1901 Productions. Instructed by Johnny Power, instructor of arts technology and administration at Millikin, 1901 Productions effectively marries the creative and business elements of running a business in the arts industry. 

1901 Productions is one of the newer student-run ventures on Millikin's campus. The idea for the venture was introduced in 2019 with 2020 graduate Justin Taylor's capstone project and his interest in creating a film company. Taylor, along with Power, worked an entire semester to lay the groundwork for 1901 Productions, deciding together on what they wanted the business to be and how they wanted it to run.

1901 Productions

"We looked at a lot of different models on campus, particularly Pipe Dreams Studio Theatre," said Power. "We wanted to make our own autonomous narratives. So we decided on having a creative side and a business side." Students participating in the venture are encouraged to both find a role that fits their strengths or to try a new role or skill to broaden their experience. 

Power said that the creative side handles details such as finding talent, obtaining screenplays and scouting locations, while the business side deals with contracts, money, advertising and marketing. These distinct sections of the business work together to make decisions to benefit the venture, and true to the Performance Learning model, Power chose to take a step back and let the students solve problems amongst themselves.

"That was the biggest challenge for me," Power said while discussing his involvement as an instructor in the student-run venture. "They are supposed to make the decisions and they are supposed to succeed or fail on their own merits. How much influence do I have to get us a good product without telling them what to do and really taking away the point of a student-run venture?"