Bringing 1901 into 2022 – The Decaturian

1901 Productions began as Millikin graduate and former arts technology major Justin Taylor’s capstone project. Developing a film production venture brought Taylor into uncharted territory, both personally and professionally.

Taylor’s interest was sparked by the engagement of many students with the production and film curriculum, and this prompted him to consider ways to expand Millikin’s programs in conjunction with his technical studies of the arts.

Justin Taylor

“I was like, this is cool, but what if it’s expanded? At the same time I am also participating in the shooting of the film with my friends. I started working on a couple of local projects here and there, whether it was helping them as a pseudo-production assistant or helping them boom the mic,” Taylor says.

After seeing the successes of other collegiate production ventures, Taylor began to question why such ventures were not established at a school with such a strong arts and humanities program.

Taylor asked, “Why don’t we do it at Millikin? Why don’t we contact the English department for people who want to be creative writers? Why isn’t the visual media side of arts tech joining the video side and vice versa? Why is everything divided in this school?”

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These early developmental questions seem to perfectly predict a key strength of the 1901 productions: Millikin’s ability to integrate several independent programs and disciplines not only with each other, but also within the local community.

Arts Technology Instructor Eric Hector has seen firsthand the value of partnership and collaboration between various Millikin-based and community-wide organizations and their elevation of 1901 productions.

Hector emphasized the specific campus and local resources that make Millikin an ideal institution to support student-led ventures, from the Center for Theater and Dance to the Lincoln Square Theater and the Lavelle Hunt, giving great credit to the Millikin Center for Entrepreneurship with its support of 1901 productions.

“The Millikin Center for Entrepreneurship really helped us. We pitched a proposal to them that was about growing, moving forward, and building it bigger. And that’s how they became our partners. I can’t say enough good things about everyone there. They really made it happen. ,” said Hector.

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Hector cites the Center for Entrepreneurship’s grant writing assistance as the most profitable 1901. He explained, “They gave us a big grant to really take the program forward.”

While finance is inevitably central to the development of 1901 productions, Hector explains the importance of the creative elements that set 1901 apart from other student-led ventures. These factors influenced the venture’s profitable decision to focus exclusively on film production after receiving grant money.

“In my opinion, the way to make money from content is to make a movie or a television show or something. We can’t really make a TV show, but we can make a movie,” said Hector.

With the 1901 productions, Hector left a significant part of the development in the hands of the students.

“I thought it would be great to bring it up to people after seeing the work they’re already doing, making full features, and saying, ‘Hey, do you all want to take these next two semesters? Make a movie that we can show?’ And they really picked up the ball and ran with it,” Hector said.

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After working diligently to develop an impressive product repertoire, Hector praised the learning experiences provided to the students involved in the venture.

“It’s a real process of how you run a business? How do you meet these deadlines? How do you do this when you have an event coming up?” Hector explained.

This experience has recently enabled students to develop several projects into an anthology film. “It was a nice natural step from the shorts they were doing as an anthology feature,” Hector explains.

Throughout 1901’s development, from its earliest stages to its most recent successes, student engagement and talent have been central to its accomplished production repertoire.

“We have really good actors. We have the ability to teach them the story and get the technology, and then, because of our relationships with the community, turn it into a business,” Hector said.

The success of the 1901 productions demonstrated the value of Millikin’s performance learning methodology not only as a leading campus initiative, but also as a community-supported arts technology venture.


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