Bringing 1901 into 2022

The Conceptual Success of Millikin’s Film Production Venture 


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

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

Justin Taylor

“I was like, this is cool, but what if what if this was expanded? At the same time, I was also getting into filming with friends. I started working on a couple local projects here and there, whether it was helping them as a pseudo-production assistant, or helping them boom a mic,” said Taylor. 

After seeing the successes of other collegiate production ventures, Taylor began to question why such ventures hadn’t been established at a school with such strong arts and humanities programs. 

Taylor asked, “Why don’t we do that at Millikin? Why aren’t we reaching out to the English department for people that want to be creative writers? Why isn’t the visual media side of arts tech reaching out to the video side and vice versa? Why is everything always so segmented at this school?” 

These early developmental questions seem to have perfectly forecasted a key strength of 1901 Productions: its ability to unify several of Millikin’s independent programs and departments not only amongst each other, but also within the local community. 

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

Greatly crediting Millikin’s Center for Entrepreneurship with its support of 1901 Productions, Hector emphasized the specific campus and local resources that make Millikin an ideal institution to support student-led ventures, ranging from the Center for Theatre and Dance to Lincoln Square Theatre and Lavelle Hunt.  

“It was the Millikin Center for Entrepreneurship who really helped us. We put together a proposal for them, which was a proposal about growing, moving forward, and building it into something larger. They have been our partners through this. I cannot say enough good things about all the folks over there. They really allowed this to happen,” said Hector.  

Hector specified the Center for Entrepreneurship’s grant writing assistance as hugely beneficial for 1901. He explained, “They gave us a large grant to be able to really move the program forward.”  

While finance was an inevitably central component to the development of 1901 Productions, Hector described the importance of creative elements that distinguished 1901 from other student-led ventures. These elements influenced the venture’s lucrative decision to focus specifically on film production following their acquisition of grant money.  

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

 In regards to creating a film with 1901 Productions, Hector left a significant portion of development in students’ hands. 

 “Having seen people make full-on features and having seen the work that they were already doing, I thought it would be cool to bring it up to them and just say, ‘Hey, would you all like to take these next two semesters to make a film that we could show?’ and they really picked up the ball and ran with it,” said Hector. 

After working diligently to develop an impressive production repertoire, Hector praised the learning experiences afforded to students involved with the venture. 

“It was a real process of how do you run a business? How do you get to these deadlines? How do you make this happen when you’ve got an event coming up?” described Hector. 

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

 Throughout the development of 1901, from its earliest stages into its recent successes, student engagement and talent has remained paramount in its accomplished repertoire of production. 

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

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