Bringing 1901 into 2022 – The Decaturian

1901 Productions started as Millikin graduate and former Chief Art Technician Justin Taylor. However, the development of film production took Taylor into uncharted territory, both personally and professionally.

Taylor’s interest was initially piqued by the involvement of several students in the production and film curriculum, and this inspired him to consider ways in which Millikin’s programs could be expanded in conjunction with his study of art technology.

Justin Taylor

“I thought, that’s cool, but what if it spreads? At the same time, I was also filming with my friends. Every now and then I started working on a few local projects, whether it was helping out as a pseudo-production assistant or helping them turn up the mic,” Taylor said.

After seeing the success of other college production ventures, Taylor began to wonder why such ventures hadn’t sprung up at a school with such strong arts and humanities programs.

Taylor asked, “Why don’t we do it in Millikin? Why don’t we reach out to the English department for people who want to be creative writers? Why doesn’t the visual media side of art technologies transcend the video side and vice versa? Why is everything always so segmented in this school?’

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These early developmental issues seem to perfectly foreshadow a key strength of the 1901 production: its ability to unite Millikin’s several independent programs and departments not only among themselves but also within the local community.

Arts Technology Instructor Eric Hector saw firsthand the value of partnership and collaboration between the various Millikin-focused and community-wide organizations and their elevation to the 1901 production.

Crediting Millikin’s Center for Entrepreneurship for supporting 1901 Productions, Hector highlighted the specific campus and local resources that make Millikin an ideal institution to support student-led projects, from the Center for Theater and Dance to Lincoln Square Theater and Lavelle Hunt.

“It was the Millikin Center for Entrepreneurship that really helped us. We put together a proposal for them that was about growth, progress and rebuilding into something bigger. Thanks to this, they became our partners. I can’t say enough good things about all the people there. They really let it happen,” Hector said.

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Hector identified the Center for Entrepreneurship’s grant-writing assistance as extremely beneficial for 1901. He explained, “They gave us a big grant to really move the program forward.”

While finances were inevitably central to the development of the 1901 production, Hector described the importance of the creative elements that set 1901 apart from other student-led projects. These elements influenced the company’s lucrative decision to focus specifically on film production after receiving grant money.

“I think the way to make money from content is to make a movie or a TV show or something. We can’t actually make a TV show, but we could make a movie,” Hector said.

When it came to creating the film with the 1901 production, Hector left much of the development in the hands of the students.

“When I saw people doing full features and I saw the work they were already doing, I thought it would be great to introduce it to them and say, ‘Hey, would you like to make a film that we can show all these two semesters? ?” and they really took the ball and ran with it,” Hector said.

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Having worked hard to develop an impressive production repertoire, Hector praised the learning experience provided to the students involved in the venture.

“Was it a real process of how to run a business? How do you get to these dates? How do you do that when the event is coming up?” Hector described.

This experience recently allowed students to develop several projects into an anthology film. “It’s a good natural step from the shorts they were doing to the anthology,” Hector explained.

Throughout its development in 1901, from its earliest stages to its recent successes, student engagement and talent have remained paramount in its accomplished repertoire of productions.

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

The success of 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 enterprise.

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