Art students learn entrepreneurship

11-10-08 Symposium
Rick Cleveland, producer and writer of “Six Feet Under” and "The West Wing," speaks during a symposium on business and arts on Friday. (Lindy Mapes/The State Press)
Published On:
Monday, November 10, 2008
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ASU students are learning how to use business techniques to support artistic ventures in the School of Theatre and Film’s arts entrepreneurship program.

The Performing Arts Venture Experience, p.a.v.e., held its Inaugural Symposium on Entrepreneurship and the Arts on Friday and Saturday.

Rick Cleveland, co-producer of “The West Wing” and “Six Feet Under,” spoke to students and faculty from the program on Friday about how careers are shaped in Hollywood.

Writers should be businesspeople if they want to keep working, Cleveland said.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent every day [on some sets],” he said. “It’s partially my responsibility to make sure that that money be spent wisely and efficiently.”

Cleveland said much of his success has come from capitalizing on chance connections with Hollywood big shots. The night before meeting Sydney Pollack about adapting a play he wrote for film, Cleveland found a documentary on Pollack while channel surfing.

The interviewer in the documentary then asked Pollack what he needed to see in a screenplay to know it’s a movie.

Pollack said he needed to see that it’s a love story. The next day, Pollack asked Cleveland what kind of movie he wanted to write.

“Without missing a beat, I say ‘A love story,’” Cleveland said.

He got the job before leaving Pollack’s office that day.

“Finding success in Hollywood is very much about fostering relationships,” Cleveland said. “The more people you meet, the more people want to meet you.”

These networking skills are as much a part of success as talent or persistence, Cleveland said. Connecting with other people and fostering relationships, he said, are very much a part of succeeding in Hollywood.

As part of the p.a.v.e. program, students receive grants and start their own ventures in the arts. Several ventures have already begun, such as a film festival and several production companies.

Film sophomore Marius Ciocirlan started his production company Kromatic Entertainment as part of the p.a.v.e. program.

The program, he said, helped him get the grant to begin his company, guided him through the process of starting it and empowered him to realize his ideas.

Although Kromatic Entertainment started out producing music videos and press kits, Ciocirlan said they want to pull ahead of competitors by developing new ways to distribute their content.

Recognizing existing technology and shortcomings of current marketing techniques, he and Kromatic Entertainment are currently working on video kiosks that advertise movies and music using touch-screen technology.

Current marketing strategies are underutilizing present technology, Ciocirlan said. “They’ve been advertising movies the same way since the first movie came out: with posters.”

ASU students from other majors are able to apply for a grant from the program for their arts ventures. Many of the participants are from the W.P. Carey School of Business, said Director of the School of Theatre and Film Linda Essig.

Teaching students to use entrepreneurial thought processes is partly why programs like p.a.v.e. are important, Mark Sheridan-Rabideau said during a panel on arts entrepreneurship education at the symposium Saturday.

Sheridan-Rabideau is a music professor at the University of Wyoming and is currently co-authoring a book on social entrepreneurship.

Students don’t feel they can affect the world outside of themselves, Sheridan-Rabideau said. Arts entrepreneurship education can be an agent to aid students from all majors in finding creative solutions to problems, he said, rather than just creating machines or companies.

The application of creative thought has been wrongly attached to exclusively the arts, Herberger College Dean Kwang-Wu Kim said in his introduction speech on Friday.

“We have to reorient people’s thinking so what they’re thinking about is the application of creativity to their lives and their connection to the larger world again,” Kim said.

Reach the reporter at cogino@asu.edu.