Chapman University wants to get into the movie business. Its Dodge College of Film and Media Arts has launched a new production and distribution company, Chapman Entertainment, that plans to produce and distribute a slate of five to 10 microbudget films each year.
Budgets are expected to range from $250,000-$625,000, with funding coming from equity partners and private donors. Chapman, which is located in Southern California’s Orange County, will contribute its facilities and equipment at a published-rate basis, which will be factored into the respective film’s budgets.
Chapman Entertainment plans to market the movies to “a young demographic” and “hopes this association with the university will help guide the talent pool of filmmakers and industry professionals emerging from Chapman through their post-graduate careers.”
Bob Bassett, Dean of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, will serve as president and CEO of Chapman Entertainment. In a statement, he said: “We are not making student movies at Chapman Entertainment. [This] is a commercial business enterprise dedicated to making films of the highest quality from the best storytellers, wherever they may come from. We do anticipate involvement from Dodge alumni but are firmly committed to producing films we feel can compete in the commercial marketplace.”
This isn’t the first time a university has tried to create a more direct — and profitable — connection between its film school and the industry it serves. In 2003, the University of Texas Film Institute contracted with Burnt Orange Prods. in an attempt to “redefine the film school model… to give students highly specialized filmmaking experience on commercial feature films and more effectively prepare them for film careers.”
Burnt Orange folded in 2008 after producing four titles: “The Quiet” (Sony Pictures Classics), “Homo Erectus/National Lampoon’s Stoned Age” (National Lampoon), “The Cassidy Kids” (B-Side) and “Elvis and Annabelle” (The Weinstein Co., DVD).
In 2008, the Austin Chronicle interviewed UT film professor Tom Schatz, “who championed the notion of connecting film academia with film business realities. ‘The question is whether we can produce films that are significantly successful enough to continue,'” Schatz told the paper. “‘Until we see revenue from our projects, we won’t make more.'”