By Jacob Nelson
Jonah Zeiger is a fitting choice for the new Associate Director of EPICS to support the MSLCE program: as a filmmaker, director, and producer who has been in the industry for almost 20 years, he knows his way around the creative world, from both the artistic and business perspectives. What’s more, as a former assistant professor at DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts, he has the skills and experience it takes to teach those perspectives to aspiring creative professionals.
While at DePaul, Zeiger created a visiting artists series that brought in directors like Werner Herzog and actors like Tim Robbins and Bob Odenkirk. These events were meant to “serve as a bridge between film world and the people who wanted to understand the industry,” Zeiger explained.
“I’m really passionate about the creative side, but I felt like a lot of people didn’t understand the way the business is structured,” Zeiger said.
Zeiger’s experience orchestrating these conversations taught him that there’s no one right way to make a successful career in the arts, especially as technology and culture change so rapidly.
Twenty years ago, the media was so much more regimented, it was very hard to get a big audience or find niche audiences and monetize it,” Zeiger said. “You have to be educated about what’s going on, how we got to where we are now.”
Most importantly, according to Zeiger, students who hope to find success in the arts needs to “rise above the noise,” especially in a media environment that is so saturated. The way to do that? By diving into and embracing a business savvy approach in addition to creative skills.
“You have to be half creative and half business,” Zeiger said. “You have to be constantly entrepreneurial about it,” he said.
It’s this perspective he hopes to impart on incoming MSCLE students. Along with assistant director Mandi Glowen, Zeiger will be working to cultivate a program that bridges coursework with preparation for internships and other real world, professional experiences. This preparation will include site visits to Chicago area businesses, speaker series events, professional development seminars, and spring treks to coastal arts, entertainment and media centers.
“I think really this is an incredible growth area, an incredible opportunity,” Zeiger said about the MSLCE program.
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