Claire Evans: Majoring in Screen Business

November 14, 2023
One of the founders of recently launched artist studio Junior Major, used a forward-thinking course, Master of Arts Screen: Business (MASB) at the Australian Film Television and Radio School [AFTRS] to road test her intuition that the business had legs. 

A Managing Director at experiential production company Grumpy Sailor for 7 years, producer Claire Evans was looking for rigor behind her next business move.

“I’ve never really been formally trained in management or leadership and was interested in cementing things that I learned on the job with more theoretical research and formal education,” she tells us over a virtual call, with the buzzy Junior Major workplace studio in the background.

In our fast moving world, especially in an industry that revolves around tech and innovation, continually educating yourself is key, and Evans found the solution in AFTRS’ Master of Arts Screen: Business two year course.

“I’d participated in small cohort learning before and I found that for me it really made a difference because I’m someone who needs that presence and focus and accountability. This small cohort model and so much access to the lecturers was really great – I was seeing the same people, we were doing things on weekends.

“The MASB suited my learning style, and it could also work with balancing a family life and other business responsibilities.”

Evans added that the course has flexible study options, both online and on campus, or a combination of the two, and you can choose between 1-4 subjects per semester.

“Also, I thought it would be perfect because included in the course is a capstone project; you work on it over two years and develop up a business which is based on industry research.”

Upon starting the course, Evans was surprised that most of the participants had traditional film backgrounds. “I had the most digital background but a lot of the ideas that people were working on and developing for the course were technology based. One of the teams in our cohort was a technology startup which is about bringing sustainable generators to film sets; there were also people working to build virtual production studios.

“Students come in at different levels. I have a fair bit of experience running a business. Some of the financial modules were validating things that I’d learned on the job, but there were other students who had never built out a profit & loss sheet or cash flow, so you could come in with no financial experience and gain the skills that you need to run a business.

“The other thing that the course did was give us tools and frameworks for horizon scanning and looking into the future and asking, ‘what trends do we think are there and how do we identify a gap in the market?’ The course really took me through the process of research, identifying an opportunity, developing an idea that speaks to that opportunity, get feedback on that pitch, refine it, develop it. It’s a bit like an incubator in a sense.”

Claire Evans’ capstone project focused on Metaverse Technologies in the museum sector. “Putting on a headset and experiencing this Metaverse world where everything is interconnected,” she explains. Doing the course, though, she realised that this tech is still some years away from being a practical business. “But what is happening now and the niche that we’re interested in, is transforming a physical space into something immersive; using projection, objects, screens and developing an experiential, embodied experience in a physical space that can be communal.

“What we’re doing is building out our own IP in these artworks. We originate ideas for an artwork and then get it commissioned in different ways, but we retain the intellectual property.”

These include THE LAB at Powerhouse Museum, CANOPY at Museum of Discovery, PLAYSCAPES and UNREALISED at Museum of Sydney.

She may have pivoted from her capstone project, but Evans believes that the learning she did during the 2 year course has paid dividends. Within 18 months of opening Junior Major, “we’ve been able to get to a pretty accelerated place because of some the work that was done in the MASB course.”

AFTRS is taking applications for Master of Arts Screen: Business for 2024, with applications closing 27 November 2023. For more information, head here.