Burnt Orange Productions

Byron reminded me about this New York Times article, which reports that the film program at the University of Texas has begun producing films, allowing film students to gain hand-on experience in the world of film production. The article reports that the university plans to produce eight feature films, with budgets of up to $3 million, over the next three years. Prominent Austin filmmakers, including Richard Linklater, Matthew McConaughey, and even Terrence Malick, have joined the advisory board. It’s a fascinating move, one that could provide a solid film program with even greater credibility, and I have to admit, I’m kind of jealous of the whole deal. Thomas Schatz, film historian and theorist, developed the idea in the mid-1990s, but because of economic factors, it has taken some time to get off the ground.

The article acknowledges what I regard to be the biggest potential problems with this kind of studio, specifically concerns about this kind of studio subverting union labor. The students who work on the films will also be unable to profit off of their work. Like scientific research that is often owned by a scholar’s university, a hit film would see its profits go back into the university (and to the private investors who help finance the films). No matter what, it’s very cool to see a major university get into the DIY spirit within the humanities.

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