An Artist’s Advocate: Navigating the Business of Cinematic Arts

January 21, 2019
• by
Kevin Lu

It’s 8 PM at LA Live. The lights in the theatre dim as the first opening scenes of Crazy Rich Asian flash on screen. Suddenly, I hear a beautiful jazz song playing in the background, all sung in Chinese. As one of the first all-Asian casts in the last 25 years of cinema, I couldn’t help but smile while watching the film shatter toxic stereotypes surrounding Asian cultures.

And by the end of the movie, I was fully confident that I wanted to get involved in the movie business and be an advocate for underrepresented artists in the media and entertainment industry.

Growing up, I’ve always adored the art of film and television. I love how media has the ability to send impactful messages and channel emotions. And I knew that I wanted to somehow incorporate this passion into my life. Yet, I also deemed myself to be a more business-oriented individual, the reason I chose to ultimately pursue a degree in Business Administration. I remembered feeling frustrated during my college application process, wondering why so many schools didn’t provide a degree geared towards combining the art of media with business.

Fortunately, I discovered that USC crafted the perfect degree program suited for my creative endeavors: The Business of Cinematic Arts. Housed between both the School of Cinematic Arts and the Marshall School of Business, students who complete the four-year program to receive a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Cinematic Arts and are able to apply their education between both business and cinema professions. On top of the general business requirements, BCA students are placed together in a cohort and take business-oriented classes pertaining to entertainment, ranging from lessons on the management of video games to lectures on motion picture production techniques!

I decided to pursue this program near the end of my first semester at USC and applied for the program as soon as I saw the application open. Words couldn’t express just how ecstatic I was when I opened up an email weeks later notifying me of my acceptance into this one-of-a-kind program.

Currently, I am taking my first BCA class called Introduction to Television and Video, taught by Professor Ellen Seiter. Each Wednesday, we get to watch part of a critically acclaimed TV series and learn about how various forms of media are distributed. I believe that the knowledge I’m learning from this class will give me a significant edge when applying to internships in the entertainment industry. In fact, I was recently invited to tour United Talent Agency and was able to learn so much about how talent agents serve as the artists’ advocate to find jobs and opportunities for both growing and established entertainment professionals.

Even if you’re not interested in the Business of Cinematic Arts program, this is only one example of the plethora of specialized programs within USC Marshall. The beauty of the business program at USC is the ability to craft your own interdisciplinary curriculum. For example, on top of my BCA coursework, I am also taking entrepreneurship classes because I’m also interested in someday launching my own film and media studio! From real estate to data science to cinematic arts, USC Marshall truly has a place for all aspiring business leaders.

I’ll never forget the first time I watched Jon M. Chu’s film masterpiece. In the future, I hope to also use my Business of Cinematic Arts degree to pave the way for visionary artists who want to create new forms of media and generate social impact through their work. I couldn’t be more grateful to be living in the heart of Los Angeles at USC, for there is no better place meant to learn and train the next generation of business-entertainment leaders!