Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

Designing a Transmedia Entertainment Business Management Curriculum

Academic journal article MEIEA Journal

Designing a Transmedia Entertainment Business Management Curriculum

Article excerpt

Introduction

As the number, variety, and availability of postsecondary educational offerings in the entertainment business increases, so grows the body of scholarship on the content, development, and delivery of entertainment industry curricula. This is particularly true in the music sector, where the industry terrain continues to shift dramatically. Hill (2003), Marcone (2004), McCain (2002), and Sobel (2007), are among the advocates for a careful re-examination of music curricula and represent a small sample of the voices contributing to a vital and necessary dialogue. Less abundant, however, is the literature on pedagogy or andragogy1 specific to other sectors of the entertainment industry, and more particularly, the business thereof. As Collis, McKee, and Hamley (2010) note, as recently as 2010 there were still relatively few university degree or certificate programs training the next generation of business-oriented producers of televisual content, even though the technical production of film and TV has been taught for decades at many renowned institutions of higher learning. As such it's no surprise that scholarship on teaching and learning the business of producing per se has not attracted as much attention in the academic canon. Rarer still are those educational institutions and programs that train producers of transmedia entertainment-that is, entertainment that "unfolds across multiple media platforms, with each new text making a distinctive and valuable contribution to the whole" (Jenkins 2006, 97-98).

The aim of this case study is to describe the evolution of one such transmedia entertainment business program curriculum from a constructivist perspective, outlining its goals, design principles, main methods of assessment, successes, challenges, and finally presenting some observations arising from the implementation and delivery of the program between 2010 and 2015 at the author's home institution.

Rationale for Program Redevelopment

The original Vancouver Film School (VFS) Entertainment Business Management program (EBM) was implemented in early 2006 as a natural complement to the range of entertainment production offerings at Vancouver Film School, which had grown gradually and organically from a single class in film production in 1987 (Vancouver Film School 2016). By the time the EBM program was launched, the traditional VFS program model was well established: each one-year, entertainment production-oriented offering is comprised of six terms of roughly two months each, and approximately 1,000 contact (classroom) hours. With rare exceptions, each individual, accelerated course consists of seven instructional sessions of three hours each, and aside from a relatively small number of full-time faculty members and staff members in each program, instructors are primarily (if not exclusively) current industry executives and practitioners. The school now houses a dozen such intensive technical/vocational programs including Programming for Games and Interactive, 3D Animation, and Sound Design. With a focus on hands-on learning of production tools and techniques, each student graduates with a portfolio of entertainment productions.

As originally designed, the EBM program bore only a superficial resemblance to this distinctive VFS model; it had all the basic duration and layout features, but lacked the production-oriented focus of the other VFS programs. The EBM student's portfolio was mainly limited to business documents like production plans, budgets, marketing assets, and so on, with the assumption or expectation that these would be used to produce the entertainment after graduation. In contrast, the other, less technologically oriented programs like Acting or Writing for Audiovisual Media culminated in a portfolio of productions, or at least one capstone project (typically a short film), for each graduate. Thus, EBM differed in its absence of course content devoted specifically to production methodology. …

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